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Time: Why is there never enough of it?

Photographs: Pexels

Text: Monika Pedersen

Time is a very precious commodity, and it has a will of its own, almost. To be able to have a handle on it is a falsehood, but the effort to manage time is what many of us try to do. Time management is trying to use time as effectively and wisely as possible. This is usually a goal for many students, working people, and parents.

Though not a master of time management, there is always the endeavour to maximise a day, especially the older you become!

Despite rising early to enjoy quiet, reflective time each morning, the minutes disappear as the checklist of jobs for the day is reviewed, emails are checked, a couple of news stories are read, and an essential coffee is drunk. We have no children in the house, so our morning schedule is not as chaotic as it is for parents with little people. Then there is the morning bathroom scene, breakfast, lunch packs to be made, the school drop-off, the cycle to work, etc.

It is often a stream of work, emails, discussions, and job-specific tasks punctuated by a trip to the coffee machine, bathroom, and canteen. Once work is over or the allocated hours, then for many, it is the child pick up, school clubs, grocery collection, homework help, and finally, a little time to enjoy a meal and a family discussion before clean up, bedtime stories, etc.

Finally, there might be time and energy to enjoy some television, a book, music, or a hobby, and then it is bedtime. The day has disappeared, however productive it may have been, and the time spent never to be recouped.

With this being the regular schedule with a little more flexibility at the weekend, the question remains: how can we buy back or make more time?

"There might be time and energy to enjoy some television, a book, music, or a hobby, and then it is bedtime."

Strategies that may help:

There are no magical formulae, only a few strategies to reallocate time:

  1. Plan the day or overview what needs to be done. Be realistic as to how long a task may take. Consider whether the plan is feasible and whether tasks or activities need reallocation.

  2. Prioritise the tasks and activities using a number scale and then allocate the tasks for the week.

  3. Some days will not go to plan, which can bring upset and irritation, so try to be philosophical and reallocate tasks to stay upbeat. Not every day will run smoothly; this is just a regular part of life.

  4. Observe work hours and work effectively, but unless it is unavoidable or in the day’s plan, be protective of your time and leave to carry on with the other activities that need to be covered. Most adults wear several hats, which must be respected and observed.

  5. It may be hard but necessary to turn down a request for adding tasks to a workload. To manage this, a longer time frame is required, or other duties need to be removed to manage the workload effectively and healthily.

  6. Develop some routines so that there is a smoothness to your day and not a sudden roadblock. For example, when are the groceries bought or is this an online activity? When is it laundry day or household cleaning time? So, these basic chores are built into the schedule and are part of the standard functional order. Can there be a sharing of tasks with a friend or a family member, so one party does the delivery of children and the other the collection if they are younger etc. Is there a rota to make the evening meal, so time is regained.

  7. Multitasking can also help be efficient, so listening to podcasts whilst on the exercise bike or jogging whilst taking the dog for a ‘walk’ and other versions.

  8. Avoid procrastination or distractions as these do not give time but reduce it and increase stress levels, so try to take challenges face on and enjoy the completed result!

  9. Try not to waste time but use time well. If there is a delay at the dentist or on the train, check emails, read a book or use the time to reflect over the day and refocus to feel re-energised and ready to embrace the remainder of the day.

  10. Aim to be as organised as possible using systems such as files for your information on your computer or labels for piles of papers on your desk or have tidy cupboards at home, so time is not lost searching or dealing with wardrobe explosions!

There are only 24 hours in the day and sleep is also needed even if some of us need less than others. We can only try to use our time as best as we see fit to enjoy life and manage the things we need to do.

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