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Not Enough Time? How to Stop The Illusion

Photo by Vadim Pacev
It is not enough if you are busy. The question is, what are you busy about? ~Henry David Thoreau

Do you find that there is just not enough time to get everything done?

How many times a day do you usually use the word busy? I often catch myself busy working, cleaning dishes, cooking meals, doing laundry, catching up on the email, running errands and so on.

Our modern lifestyle creates time famine that we are forced to live with; there seems to be never enough time for anything. Even if we manage to get most of our tasks and responsibilities done, our personal time and time with our loved ones suffer.

Just the other day I was doing my house chores in the evening. One of my three-year-old daughters came up to me and wanted to play. By habit I told her that “mama was busy” and this is when it hit me.

How can I be too busy for my child? Is it really important whether the laundry is done if my child does not get enough attention from me? Does it really matter how many articles I publish on my blog if I miss precious moments with my little girls?

This situation made me realize that I was suffering from “time and intimacy famine” – the dis-ease where we feel that there is not enough time to do everything, and in the result of trying to “catch up”, we miss out on previous intimate moments with the people who matter the most to us.

We jump from one thing to the next one and completely lose the present moment. Just recently Tina wrote about her experience on the topic in Stop Chasing Start Living and it triggered a few reflective moments in me.

Problem with Staying Busy

I think that staying busy has become one of the social norms in modern world. Many people enter a race of “Who can be the busiest today?” Our kids are busy with all possible after-school activities. We take on social commitments and new tasks just to cram more accomplishments in our day.

Unfortunately, no matter how much we accomplish and how busy we remain, we do not experience happiness or joy because of this. It fills us up with inner emptiness. It drains us and we lose connection with the things that really matter.

How to Overcome the Not Enough Time Illusion

The illusion that there isn’t enough time can be conquered only by living in the present. Thinking about now. Simplifying life.

I have been following a few strategies lately that helped me better control my time and take productive steps toward overcoming the pressure to chase the next moment caused by the ‘Not Enough Time’ illusion. I list them as follows:

1. Treasure Your Time

Time is a valuable resource that we do not have to spend all at once. Let’s imagine that you inherited a huge amount of money. Would you go out and spend every bit of it immediately? Sure, you can do it but a wiser decision would be to spend some, invest some, save some. Our time is much more valuable than money (because once it’s gone you can never earn it back); then why do we constantly waste it?

If you have extra 5 or 10 minutes during the day, just enjoy them. There is no need to water the plants, file your nails or call to schedule an appointment just to become more efficient and productive. These extra few minutes have a wonderful purpose in your life—they are to be savored and enjoyed in silence, in deep thoughts or with your loved ones.

2. Stop Getting Things Done

There is nothing wrong with being productive but it is unhealthy to make productivity the sole purpose of your life. There might be times during the day when you need to be efficient (at work, while running errands, doing housework etc.) but there are also times when you need to relax. Be as diligent about your rest time as you are about your work hours.

3. Leave Your Job at Work

Job takes a big part of our lives and sometimes it is difficult to turn off your work mode. It gets even more difficult if you work from home because technically you are always in your work place.

While I am not a big fan of the term “work life balance” I think that work rest balance definitely deserves your attention. I can talk for hours about why it is important to forget about your work while you are resting, but deep down you do not need any convincing. You are the person who will benefit the most from this change and only you are able to make this decision your personal priority.

4. Simplify Your Commitments

Frequently enough we take on too many responsibilities that completely clutter our day. Distinguish between tasks that are truly important to you (because they are a necessity or because you truly enjoy these activities) and get rid of all the clutter. Do you really have to go to your colleague’s party? Do you really enjoy this TV show that much? You get the idea.

5. Discover Who You Are

A lot of times we stay busy because of fear. We are afraid of down time because we are afraid to discover who we are.

Instead of really getting to know ourselves, discovering our passions, developing our potential we hide behind a busy schedule. Sometimes we stay busy to cover up some painful memories or emotions that we feel we can’t deal with.

This no-conflict strategy is emptying your inner well; it drains your energy and robs you of happy and joyful living. Schedule some time for yourself: meditate, pray, write in a journal or just dive deeply into your thoughts.

6. Simplify Your Information Streams

How many books are you reading right now? Chances are that you are reading a few regular books, following regular updates on a few blogs and reading an eBook or two all at the same time. I am not even mentioning news, TV shows, magazines and newspapers that are a staple in almost every house.

There is too much information available to us right now. This information takes time and energy; in fact it takes over our lives. We can be watching TV, looking through a magazine and trying to play with our kids at the same time. As a result you get a headache from the noise, you get no value from the magazine and you get upset at your kids because they start whining and complaining.

Instead try to read fewer books and follow fewer blogs. Look through the news headlines on the Internet and read only what is relevant to you. Spend your time only on the information that truly benefits you and enriches your life.

7. Gift Yourself A Day

If you are a religious person you can use this time for spiritual matters. If you are not religious you can spend time with your family, read all day, go on a hike, goof off, try new recipes or enjoy any other hobby.

It does not matter what you are doing. Just don’t work. It will be the biggest nourishment for your starving mind and even body.

Parting Words on ‘Not Enough Time’

The illusion that there is not enough time is just that: an illusion. You can overcome this idea and this internal drive towards chasing the next moment under the excuse of “I’m busy” by slowing down.

While you cannot control everything in this world you definitely can control your time and how you spend it. Enjoy it. Treasure it. Spend it on what really matters and be happy.

**If you had all the time in the world, what would you be doing? :)
Consider doing that. What activities can you do (or not do) to feel more relaxed and calm? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section. See you there!

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Anastasiya Goers
About the author

Anastasiya is the author behind the Balance In Me blog - a place for people interested in practical life balance strategies. She is passionate about helping people find their balance in different areas of life: work, family, health, lifestyle, spirituality and others. She also a runs virtual Life Balance Retreats for people interested in making lasting changes in their lives.

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33 thoughts on Not Enough Time? How to Stop The Illusion

  1. It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The
    question is, what are we busy about? | Henry David Thoreau
    Ya, everyone tends to make their life busy with nothing, get themselves fell into a trap of distraction. Checking mails all the time, Facebook, social media, chit chat with friends, messenger, internet surfing, blogs, forum and many more.
    When the day end, a question would stuck them: ” What had you done today?”
    Being clear with self target is important too, and get rid of all distractions.

  2. I really like this one Anastasiya. I think I need to work on simplifying my information stream. Thanks! RT’d.

  3. Jacqueline Way

    Great article Tina. A reminder I need every day. I love the line “time is the one thing you can control” Since I am a control freak at times it reminds me my business is my own doing. Thank you for my morning inspiration to enjoy my time and find the moments that are not filled with anything.

  4. We have 168 hours in a week. I realized how precious time is when I took a job that allows me to leave the office at 4:30 *every* day. In the summer we get out at 3:30 on Fridays. Yes, it’s less $ every week but I have all sorts of time that I have not seen in more than a decade!

  5. Guys, I am glad you enjoyed the article and it provided inspiration for your day.
    Leah, I completely agree about the balance of $/time. I have the same attitude – it is better for me to earn less but actually have time to enjoy what I have (plus, in the end I think it all equals out. If you work at a stressful job with long hours over time you start spending too much time and money in the doctor’s offices. Can you imagine that 80% of our medical expenditure is stress-related?)

  6. Time is our most valuable and irreplaceable commodity ~ a bank account which mandates daily withdrawals, prohibits deposits, and pays dividends when we spend it wisely.

    This is a good post. I’m surprised there aren’t more comments. Maybe the adverts on this site are turning people off?

    Think Simple Now doesn’t seem as “friendly” as it once did. :D

    • @nrhatch

      Thank you for your insightful comment (as always).

      I think it’s a beautiful post too.

      Re: comments

      I wouldn’t necessarily judge how good a post is received based on comments. Historically, readers on TSN don’t tend to leave comments. A lot of silent lurkers. Actually, I receive more emails in response to posts than there are comments. I’m not sure why that’s the case.

      What does “friendly” mean to you regarding a site? What can we do to be more “friendly”? :)

      The adverts have to be in place to keep the cost of running this site.

      -Tina

  7. Historically, readers did leave comments. I just read a post from January 2009 with 77 comments. This post has 7. That’s a rather dramatic change.

    Maybe the more ads you add, the less inclined people are to share their input?

    Also, I think that the more writers you add the less “friendly” this place seems. It used to feel like I was visiting your living room. Now it feels like an over crowded auditorium with a panel of speakers.

    • There are many reasons why certain posts received 50 or more comment, which I won’t go into detail here. If you like, shoot me an email.

      But trust me in saying that “historically, readers (regular readers who have been reading from the beginning) do not leave comments.”

      Majority of people who comment are:
      1. People who own a blog themselves.
      2. New reader from search engine or social media sites.

      Most regular readers are not technies or bloggers. They get the posts delivered in their email, or read it on facebook.

      It’s a common assumption to associate the number of comments to a blog’s traffic or reader interest. In my situation, it is not the case. Traffic have doubled since 6 months ago and it continues to grow.

      I know what you mean about adding other writers. But I have to do what I feel is the right thing to do to create a sustainable site. I too have this bias when I visit other blogs. But sometimes, you can learn new things from different perspectives (other than my own). For example, I love Cat’s writing. She share insights on issues that I would never think or write about.

      We do filter through submissions very carefully and strictly, and only accept submissions if we believe they are good and helpful and written from the heart. And many hours is spent in editing these posts to give it the TSN touch.

      For me, this site will always be my living room. I don’t let just anyone crowd my house. Because I love and respect my home, I only invite friends who I trust, and people who I feel have a good message to share. That’s all.

      Thanks for sharing nrhatch.

      Tina

  8. Also, the number of ads have not changed from January 2009. It has no correlation to comment count.

    I simply stopped focusing on the number of comments each post received and the total number of subscribers.

    Now, I focus on writing useful things that come from the heart, and growing the site traffic in a sustainable and organic way.

    I have been toying with the idea of removing comments all together, like other bloggers in the personal development field. Now, I am leaning towards yes.

  9. Wow! I think you just answered your own question . . .

    This blog seems “less friendly” because, even when you specifically solicit input by asking a question, you apparently only want people to comment if they agree with your view of the world.

    In short, Think Simple Now is no longer a place for people to exchange valuable ideas on being happy . . . it’s a lecture hall.

    Bye.

    • >you apparently only want people to comment if they agree with your view of the world.

      I don’t edit comment, and allow all opinions to come through (provided they are not purposefully bashful or hurtful towards the writer).
      Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I wouldn’t conclude the above statement so quickly.

      Do you stop reading ZenHabits because Leo removed all comments? Or allow guest writers? Would you call ZH a lecture hall? No, it’s just sharing of ideas. We’re all just sharing of our own stories and ideas.

      A site changes direction just like a person does. Each site owner makes decision that best fit their unique situation. I’m sorry you are not connecting to the underlying intent we are trying to do here.

  10. Hi Anastasiya,

    There is always so many things to do and so little time to do it. So I am glad that you have shared your strategies on how to manage time better. The following thoughts came to mind as I read through your strategies.

    1. Treasure your time

    Time can pass us in a flash when we are busy. I remember the many times when I was so focused on the task at hand that I did not even notice what went on around me or the time that had passed me by. I feel we actually need to set aside some time to enjoy time. These few precious moments for ourselves helps us to see things in perspective.

    4. Simplify your commitments and information streams

    This can be a real problem for many of us. We tend to complicate matters until it becomes and undoable mess. More is not always better and can result in information overload. As you rightly point our, we need to get to the heart of the matter to determine if something is really worth doing or spending time on. If so, do it. If not, write it off.

    Not having enough time is usually an illusion. I believe we can manage our time better if we are clearer about our priorities. What truly matters and what does not. When we have clarity, we are clear about what we need to do. If we do not have that clarity, time is never enough.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  11. Hi Anastasiya,

    I’m not sure if my last comment worked? This has happened to me before. Anyhow, here is another one in case the last one got lost somehow. Feel free to delete one of them if there are two!

    I really enjoyed your post. I often feel overwhelmed by all the things I need to get done and books I have to finish reading and everything else! I think I am partially addicted to busy-ness and I enjoy crossing things off lists because it makes me feel productive.

    I feel convicted after reading your article (but in a good way). I see now that sometimes those tasks and list items aren’t the most meaningful things and I feel encouraged to take more time to pursue quality activities and moments of silence and reflection.

    I recently started a blog on living life intentionally and your article is a practical way to live your day intentionally for a more meaningful life. Thank you for sharing:)

    Leana Huberts
    feetinyourshoes.com

  12. I believe we don’t have time, because we don’t make the time. We have time for other frivolous things, but leave the important things by the wayside, and wonder where did all the time go? It didn’t go anywhere, because we didn’t manage it properly!

  13. @ The Vizier,
    Thank you for your thoughts. I think your comment definitely expanded the post and provided new insights for people suffering from time famine.
    I also agree that lack of time is just an illusion. It is our personal choice (or, more likely, a series of choices) that over time turns our schedule and life into a mess. As a popular saying goes “You have time for what you make time for.” I support this saying 100%.

  14. @Leana Huberts
    I am glad that you found this post helpful. I wrote this post because I was in the same situation before: staying busy all the time just for the sake of being busy. It was a difficult habit to break because every minute spent without purpose seemed wasteful to me. But not anymore.
    I actually stopped writing daily to-do lists because I do not like the burden of all those tasks hanging over me. I create a list of major things that need to be finished within a week just as a reminder. Anything that is not important or urgent never gets on my list.

    I hope that your new blog, Leana, will help you live a less busy and more intentional life that you are striving for.

  15. @Anastasiya
    Thanks for a great post. We all have the same 24 hours in the day. Choosing how to use them is the trick and your post offers some great tips.

    @Tina
    I’m a recent newcomer to your site, and while yes, I do have blog, I’m not selling anything, just looking for like-minded folks to share ideas with. Thank you for offering that. Happiness is a tricky thing–if we pursue it too much, it escapes our grasp. It’s only when we’re able to stop that we see it was right here all along. Your site and your writers are a great reminder that happiness is both a noble and subtle pursuit. And I love coming to a site and not knowing who I am going to be reading next. What a gift!

    That said, if you want to turn off the comments, then do it. I’ve noticed when I pop in it seems to be the same people, with the same sites, giving you props in the comments section. You have to decide what’s best, and I don’t think you own anyone an apology if the comments section has turned into something different than what you originally intended.

    • Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for taking the time to leave this comment and for your encouraging words.

      I really loved this article from Anastasiya–so honest and beautiful, and a good reminder for so many of us to slow down in our race towards the next moment.

      Re: Comments

      You are right. I don’t owe anyone an apology. I should not have been so defensive above, and just allowed things to be. Lesson learned for next time.

      I’ve decided to leave it on for the time being. Some have expressed that they’ve found the comments to be a resource in certain situations. And I agree. In the 15 Questions to Life Purpose article, people would share their own mission statements and life purposes. I’ve always loved reading what people shared on that space.

      If I ever decide to turn the comments off, however, I will be directing the conversation to a forum instead–where it is setup to better facilitate conversation and connection between people.

      Warmly,
      Tina

  16. Ama

    Hi Tina, Anastasiya,
    First thank you for creating and letting this place live, and all the wondrous articles for us to get better still. :)

    I’m just dropping by to share my own experience; I’ve been learning the value of time and of the way we spent it during my last year, when I took a time and strength-eating job that was not made for me – and I kind of knew it when I applied.
    Curiously enough, I took this job as a challenge : I felt I had failed in the past, and that now I was more experienced and more mature, I should try to take -and succeed – this kind of operational job – because that was what I was supposed to do, because of my diploma, because in this world we need to be operationnal, efficient, mathematic, logic and so on.

    I nearly stopped all my other activities, because I felt I didn’t have much time, neither much energy, between work hours and traveling home (which takes like 2 hours and a half!). I felt like I just needed to succeed to be fulfilled and happy.

    But that was just an illusion, and last December, it hit me. Realized I was completely frustrated, because whatever I did, was only for getting the best data, and was completely deshumanized. It was, indeed, at the exact opposite of my values. And that made me come back to myself : Values. Humanity, creativity, tolerance, and solidarity. It may sound cheesy and childish and so on, but that’s the way I see things.

    After reading this article, I think this is a perfect example of the .5 : because I was too afraid to dig in myself and reveal the artist craving to radiate since 20 years or so. So now, I am working to overcome my fears and spend my time singing, composing, creating, and having quality moments with all the people I love.

    As we say, the hardest step is still the first. And in second place, to keep fighting for what we believe is right. FOR US. Turning the novelty into a habit, and the habit into pleasure.

    … I apologize for this long post, and I hope that everyone will understand the value of time, and get closer to their true self.

    #Ama~

  17. Tina,

    Love the site AND the comments. It’s always interesting to see what other people say. Although I personally may not comment much, it is a fun part of the article to see what others have to say. Either way, love the site. I’m sure whatever you do, it’ll be fabulous.

  18. Thanks Anastasiya. In summary – find out what’s important and then get busy doing it!

  19. Ashit Vora

    But seriously, number of Ads and Popup is not making reader (atleast me) of happiness blog happy. :(

  20. Tina~ You’re so good to us. Very excited about the positive changes. Grateful for all that you do :)

  21. VimalKumar

    Tina, I am following your site for quite some time and this is my first comment. This site really had changed the way i perceive things in the life and is having great bearing on my life. Of late, i see lot of new writers and i thoroughly enjoy them.. Good article Anastasiya…

  22. Denise

    I’ve always believed that all the busyness in this world is a result of this immense fear of finally having to be alone with oneself, and getting to know oneself intimately.

    I know I am always guilty of using “I am busy” to stop and really contemplate on what truly is meaningful and purposeful for my own life.

  23. Hello my friend! I want to say that this article is awesome, nice
    written and come with approximately all vital infos. I would like
    to look extra posts like this .

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