Do you feel as if you are about to splinter into a million pieces?
Are you dragging yourself to the end of the day–only to start dreading the next one? Are you tired all the time, having trouble sleeping, lack of concentration or unusually indecisive?
You’re not alone.
In fact, many consider time famine as a new epidemic. We are overwhelmed by work, exhausted from the chaotic lifestyle that is now the norm and struggling to meet up with the fast-paced nature of our ever-accelerating world.
All you need do is look around you – and even within yourself – to realize that time poverty and time famine has now become our culture. Time poverty – the feeling that individuals are constantly overworked and stressed without enough time for rest and leisure, domestic work and other important activities – has been linked to lower levels of life satisfaction.
But what does it take to become time rich? Is time wealth really possible?
Being time-rich is basically the same as financial wealth. Benjamin Franklin’s famous adage that “time is money” helped to inspire time management skills and principles.
Over the years, these principles have driven economic development plans and regulated workplace practices. But according to a new generation of activists and economists, time is worth more than money. It is more powerful, more valuable and even more scarce.
Just as you need to track your budget and ensure you spend within your means, tracking your time is key to ensuring balance. This is because time is fixed. Unlike money, relationships, or social media following, time cannot be increased or expanded through harder work or better connections. No matter how well you plan and organize your stuff, there are only 24 hours in a day.
Are You in Control of Your Time?
Where are you spending your time? Are you really in control? Truth is, some individuals have more control over their 24 hours than others. For instance, physicians and those undergoing their residency program may be busier than a typical 9 to 5 employee. Indeed, time wealth is especially important for those who have a limited amount of time for their work and other important life activities.
Time Control Wars: Work-life Balance vs Work-life Integration
Achieving work-life balance – the balance between time allocated for work and other important aspects of life – can be of great help. However, you will never really be able to fit in all your stuff and split your energy perfectly.
Work-life integration, on the other hand, is the perfect formula for today’s busy professional. With the evolution of technology and tools that can help us manage our time, we can start to integrate our business, work and occupation life into our day in incremental steps. This means you are able to achieve a lot more stuff in 24 hours – and spend a lot of time doing the things that truly make you happy.
Work-life integration helps you create systems. Creating systems is important because we typically do a lot of repetitive and unnecessary stuff during the day. For instance, rather than get home from work before heading to the gym, maybe you could just pack your gym stuff ahead of time so you can go straight to the gym after work.
Now you would have cut off the time taken to get you home and back to the gym, allowing you more time to handle other important stuff after work. This improves your awareness and helps you build your life in a way that works for you instead of against you.
However, work-life integration isn’t about being perfect. You’d definitely have some days when you basically are not able to do anything; you are just able to focus on your job and maybe get home and fix dinner.
This is just fine because work-life integration isn’t about achieving perfection every day. It is about being consistent with those small steps that help you accomplish huge tasks.
You could start by writing down things you hope to achieve on a weekly basis. One valuable work-life integration hack is: if you want to gain knowledge about business, entrepreneurship or marketing, you have to listen to a podcast. In your car, you have a 15 to 30-minute commute; if you take a train or bus, you have a commute that could be totally integrated into your work schedule where you’re just learning, educating yourself about a new field, and digging deeper into something that you are interested in.
These ‘small’ efforts can compound into beautiful results later.
Becoming Time Rich: Delegate, Eliminate or Automate
With the right time control mechanisms and techniques, you can become time rich, making your work more productive and efficient, and ensuring you lead a relatively stress-free life.
Time is the most valuable resource for the modern worker. Effective delegation gives you the ability to prioritize your values. It massively reduces delays in achieving tasks and allows you to make better decisions and take more actions.
Delegation needs to be seen not only as an investment in the people you employ to take charge of tasks but one that is crucial for your long-term health and success.
Everything in your life takes up space. Whether it is physical, mental or calendar space, there is only so much room for you to accommodate them all. Eliminating unnecessary stuff does not mean that you have to change everything at once.
Start by getting rid of one redundant thing from your life every day. Clear some mental space, eliminate some clutter, allow some room so you can feel freer and lighter. The simpler your life becomes, the easier it is for you to invest in efforts that bring you pleasure and happiness.
Eliminate toxic people.
Whether you have a friend who calls often to complain about how unfair the world is or a relative who finds only problems in every solution, negative people take up loads of space in your life. While you should be cautious so you don’t cut people off just because they are experiencing tough times, it is important that you set healthy boundaries.
Even if you do not spend so much time together physically with such people, the time invested in dreading the visit or calming down after a visit can take its toll.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself and for the next person is to say no. saying no should be your default reply often. You should only say “yes” to things that align with your values and what you strive to achieve. Do you want to spend more time with your spouse? Your kids? Your parents? Or are you trying to achieve something special in your career?
Severing ties with toxic people, clearing up some mental space and eliminating redundant stuff is a great way to manage your time and spend it on stuff that you truly value.
Today’s worker juggles more tasks in 24 hours than ever before. There are a lot of different things you wish you could accomplish within your limited time. However, most of the time is lost to unplanned meetings, emails, long conversations, and work notifications. We spend a lot of time managing tasks on our to-do list, only to realize that we haven’t achieved much after all. To worsen matters, we end up feeling drained, tired and even unwilling to go on with more important tasks.
These draining tasks – often referred to as “busy work” – creates a false illusion that you are busy and have a lot to do. But you can get these time-consuming tasks out of the way and become time rich by automating them.
Automation, the process of converting manual tasks into automatic operations, is a great idea because the tools you need are just a click away. Automating manual, yet important, processes can create room for high-priority tasks that require your commitment and attention.
Hobby Your Way to Becoming Time Rich
By now, you probably agree that time is more valuable than money. But while many of us understand the value of time in our lives, we still spend hours watching TV programs that we are barely interested in. Or a few hours scrolling through our social media feeds.
You are already spending loads of time managing your working career; so, why spend the little time left on stuff that adds little meaning to your life? Why not consider taking on projects that are time-independent?
Yes, it is time to turn your passion into work. Doing things that you are passionate about can help you increase your time in the long run.
For instance, you can become an exquisite writer (there are emerging physician bloggers every day nowadays) by tapping into your passion. While the writing project will yield income for you in the near future, it can be incredibly rewarding for you on a personal level. You are able to go with the flow, get lost and enjoy the process.
Though your passion may not be completely time-insensitive, time becomes irrelevant for you when you do what you love. Spending your time on projects that add value can be financially beneficial for you in the long term, but most importantly, allow you to make the most of your 24 hours.
Still, you need to remember you are not perfect. We all are works in progress, so you stop beating yourself when you do not meet up with your objectives as this wastes a lot of emotional energy.
While you should channel your passion into doing the things you love, there is always room to learn and grow. For instance, the writer may have mastered best practices, but still need to learn how to invest your time, effort and energy right into writing a book. Do not wait to start after you’ve mastered that craft. As you walk the path of your passion, you will continue to hone your skills.
You can become time rich in your own unique way.
Like a few others who continue to attain time wealth, take a piece of paper and pen down those little valuable moments that will allow you more quality time with those you love and let you do things you enjoy.
Consider your time as an invaluable gift, a luxury that you cherish.
Then your time will become a priceless asset for you. Then you too can walk the path towards becoming time rich.
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