‘I don’t have any free time’ is a myth. It’s an excuse we use to justify why we haven’t achieved a goal, invested in ourselves or stepped into our growth zone. It’s possible to reclaim your free time by working out what your priorities are, creating boundaries and holding yourself accountable to where you invest your time.
Time is one thing we all have in common. Regardless of our age, status, gender, race or religion, we each have 24 hours each day. Those who have achieved great things in their life haven’t purchased extra time, they just use their time efficiently and you can too.
Some days, most of our time has already been accounted for due to work, study or other commitments. Even on these days, we can still make time for our priorities. It isn’t about finding time, it’s about determining what your priorities are and making it happen.
Before you can reclaim control of your free time, you may want to do an audit of how you spend your time currently. Consider: What time do you wake up? What do you do before work? How do you spend your lunch break? What do you do after work? You may want to download a smartphone application that allows you to analyse your screen time. If you haven’t done this before, you will probably be surprised at how much time you spend on your phone each day, most of which you may not even do consciously.
Once you have established where you spend your time, you can determine what changes you want to make. Elizabeth Gilbert said she was once asked the following:
‘What are you willing to give up in order to get the life you are pretending to have?’
This question leads me on to priorities. What are your priorities? Does how you spend your time currently reflect this? Our priorities are not stagnant, they will change depending on what stage we are in of our life. It’s okay for your priorities to be fluid. What really matters is whether or not you are directing your time and energy towards your priorities and if not, why? If a priority for you is exercising daily then it may be appropriate to turn off the tv or switch off your phone and work out instead.
Once you have established what your priorities are, you can create boundaries. A boundary is not about saying no to everything, nor is it about saying yes to everything. It is about putting yourself in the centre of a circle, surrounded by your priorities and your values so you can make informed decisions about who and what is allowed near you. This may seem like a selfish exercise but it isn’t, when you create healthy boundaries which empower you to achieve and focus on your priorities, you can be the best version of yourself. When you do everything for others, you may end up resentful because you have chosen to give away your most precious resources, your time and energy.
As an example: If you have discovered that you spend 2 hours each day on social media applications and it’s not serving you well – limit your screen time. Set a time limit on your phone and once you have reached your daily screen limit, you will be notified. Alternatively, you could remove the application off your phone or put your phone away while you are trying to focus. That way, your distraction is gone.
If you find it challenging to hold yourself accountable, tell others what you are wanting to achieve. Ask a partner, friend or loved one to check in with you to see if you are focusing on your priorities and if you haven’t, asking why. You can also use a journal to track your progress or create a schedule which incorporates your priorities so you can keep on track.
So, there we have it. You do have time, you just need to establish your priorities, create boundaries and hold yourself accountable. It’s freeing to let go of your excuse and start achieving.