Feeling time affluent?

Or are you feeling like you are in a time famine?

The good news is you can become time-rich just by changing the way you look at it.

An article on this topic by Michael Arloski made me stop and think. He noted that the earth's 24-hour cycle hasn't changed, but "time is about our perception of it, and too frequently we view it as a scarce commodity."

This reminded me of a change this manifesto by Laura Vanderkam - How to Have it All: A Career, Kids, Free Time, and a Full Night’s Sleep. In several time-tracking studies with executive women who were also mothers, she noted: "Their lives didn't look that bad." 

Laura pointed out "There are 168 hours in a week. If you work 44 hours and sleep 54, that leaves 70 hours for other things. Not surprisingly, the women in my study were able to have full personal lives during these 70 non-working, waking hours. Why not? It’s the equivalent of 10 hours per day!

"The popular narrative about women, work, and life is full of what I call, “Recitations of Dark Moments:" these lamentations about missed soccer games, or waking up at 5:15 a.m. to do laundry. They imply that working motherhood requires becoming some maxed-out mess. And yet the reality is that women with big careers have far more balanced lives than the popular narrative conveys." 

One of the reasons we have this dark narrative is explored in the book: The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. In an online interview with author Barry Schwartz, writer Paul Heibert summaries well: "[Schwartz] explores the stress people feel when confronted with ample opportunity, and the regret that follows from choosing poorly (whose fault is it other than mine?). He also discusses our loss of presence (why am I doing this when I could be doing that?), our raised expectations (with so many options, why settle for less?), and our tarnished sense of self that comes from comparing our choices with the choices of others (why do I continue to pick the wrong things when Alex always picks the right ones?). In sum, Schwartz's work poses a serious challenge to the notion that more choice brings about more freedom, and more freedom brings about more happiness. As the book's subtitle implies, sometimes a lot is simply too much."

In his article, Michael Arloski also gave two recommendations to feel more time affluent. First, change our language from "I don't have time to..." to "This is not a priority for me." Second, "live your life with greater mindfulness... tune in to what you are doing in the present moment and see if it is something you want to savor."

So can we focus on what we do have instead of focusing on the "dark moments" or the regret from possibly missing out on the choices we didn't make

We can if we decide and act on what's really important to us personally.

Chris Hutchinson and Josh Schuler explore the topic of urgent versus important in our latest Ripple Leader podcast, Do the Hard Stuff, asking, "Is all this stuff I'm spending my time on really worth it?"

When we know what matters most to us, we can prioritize the time we have, and feel present and powerful in the choices we make on how we spend our time.

Photo courtesy of Grace Cooley.