All around the world, people are working longer hours and drowning in the quicksand of ever-expanding task lists. And somehow they still feel guilty when they take time for themselves. It’s madness — and it probably feels like madness for those in the middle of it, too.
Admit it, you know what I mean. You work harder and harder each year and yet it feels like you’re not getting closer to those big goals that you set yourself. After a while, it starts to feel like Groundhog Day.
I know I’m not the only one who has felt like this, so I took a quick survey of my friends, family, and clients. The results painted a clear picture of what people want: more time to enjoy themselves. Doesn’t that strike you as interesting? People want more time to themselves but they are trying to get there by working more. That just doesn’t add up.
Somehow we’ve lost our way. Instead of working to achieve our goals and enjoy life, we just work and have no time for ourselves. So how do you go about getting off the hamster wheel and finding a way to add time?
Realize That Time Is Elastic
People complain they don’t have enough time — as if time itself is the issue. You’ve probably heard Parkinson’s Law, it states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you haven’t heard it, you’ve probably experienced it. Remember that time you left your chemistry assignment until the last minute and you still managed to finish it by the due date? Or that time you took forever to complete a simple task just because you had the space available in your schedule?
Time is somehow elastic when it comes to work. Please don’t ask me about the physics involved, it’s probably quantum and way beyond my comprehension. What I do know is that there’s always time to fit in the stuff that’s important. That might be work or play or something else entirely.
You don’t have to be a slave to your task list, nor do you have to fill every available moment with work. To prove that you have more than enough time to do the things you want to do as well as the things you have to do, I’ve written you a short guide to getting more out of the hours you have.
(Don’t worry, it won’t take up too much of your time.)
Step 1: Meditate
There’s a great old Zen saying that goes something like this: “Everyone should meditate for twenty minutes each day, except those who don’t have the time. They should meditate for an hour.”
As usual, those Zen folks hit the nail on the head succinctly and brutally. In this case, they are pointing to the fact that you do have the time, you just allocate it elsewhere. They are also suggesting, rather elegantly, that you can find the time if you want to. And the kicker is this little saying also points to the importance of times of quiet in your overall well-being.
So, commit to meditating for twenty minutes each day. Finding the space to carve out twenty minutes for yourself might feel daunting at first, but I’m sure you can find it. Spend those twenty minutes in quiet contemplation. Just sit, and breathe. If nothing more, you’ll discover that spending twenty minutes doing nothing doesn’t mean you don’t have time to get other stuff done.
Step 2: Plan Mini-adventures
Chunking things down is a great way for us mere mortals to get around insurmountable obstacles, to achieve unthinkable goals, and to realize our greatest dreams. We all chunk things down when we want to get “important” work stuff done. We often don’t use the same strategy when it comes to fun.
If you are convinced that you just don’t have the time to partake in a big adventure due to your workload then it’s high time you started undertaking mini-adventures. This idea comes from Robin Sharma, author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, and involves planning small adventures so that no matter how busy you are you always get some time to enjoy yourself.
The idea is quite simple. All you have to do is schedule time in your calendar to have fun for a few hours at a time. Schedule this fun time for once a week and respect it like you do your other appointments. To get started, plan six weeks of mini-adventures. Choose anything that you enjoy that you can fit into two to four hours. You might go to the cinema, visit an art gallery, take a dance class, it doesn’t matter — just go and have fun.
Step 3: Book Your Next Vacation Now
After you’ve taken those first two small steps and proven that your whole world won’t fall apart if you dedicate time to yourself, it’s time to make something big happen.
Many people share the dream of traveling extensively. And for most people, it remains a dream. It remains a dream simply because they don’t take the jump. If you want to do something out of reach, then sometimes you just have to make the leap to grab that goal. If you need some inspiration regarding making things happen, read Richard Branson’s story, How I Bought Necker Island. It’s amazing what happens when you make the jump!
So, here’s the final step: book your next vacation now. Don’t agonize over the price or the time. Just book it. Sure, be realistic, but don’t miss out because you tell yourself it’s not possible for you. There is always a way.
I don’t want to give away the ending, but here’s what will happen when you book that holiday — you’ll find a way to make it all work! You’ll arrange your work to allow the time off. You’ll find the money to pay for the trip. You’ll probably even have a good time. Don’t believe me? Well, you’re welcome to prove me wrong, but you’ll still have to start with scheduling that vacation.
It’s Up to You
You can find time to enjoy your life more—right now. To state things more correctly, you don’t have to add time because you already have the time. All you have to do is put yourself first and aim to experience fun and adventure now rather than after you complete all the work ahead of you. None of us are guaranteed that future time, but we do have right now.
Start putting yourself into your own schedule by taking the following three steps:
- Make a daily appointment to meditate for 20 minutes
- Schedule six weeks of mini-adventures – 2-4 hours of fun each week
- Book your next vacation, no matter how “impossible” it seems
Life is for living. So don’t waste it stuck in the hamster wheel.