Wasted Time

One of my biggest complaints in life is that I don’t have the time to do the things I want to do in full. There is a constant battle between personal interests, self-care, relationships, parenting, education, work, and responsibility to name a few. I know, I am not alone in this struggle and it is a normal part of aging. Adulthood is the art of mixing all of those together into one coherent piece.

No matter what I have tried though there is always something that gets left behind. If I manage to eat healthy and do Yoga like I want my blog or gaming gets neglected. If I spend the extra time to tame the Einstein eyebrows I have been rocking then I risk sacrificing sleep or my grades.

Recently though my fiance pointed out something I had been overlooking. Many times I will utter “I wish we just didn’t need sleep after we became adults, like I could use that extra 6 or 7 hours a night” or “I didn’t have any time this week to do things I wanted to” as I sit on my phone scrolling Facebook or standing in the middle of our kitchen staring blankly like I am waiting for someone to direct me.

I get so caught up in needing more time to do the things I want that I squander away time I do have. Part of that is because I have short bursts of time rather than substantial periods. An hour here, forty-five minutes there, or an occasional 15 minute snippet. These don’t feel like enough time to actually do anything so I put it off until I have “the time to do it”.

Then I get stuck in my own head. The never ending mental load of to-dos weighs down on my existence, invites anxiety to sit next to her on my chest, and then I feel paralyzed by the pressure. During those times, I end up focusing so much on what I can’t do because I “don’t have time” or listing out all the things I need to get done that I don’t do anything at all. I am honestly a little shocked at how bad I really am about this after some self-reflection.

Here is the good news, realization is the first step to improvement. I can’t change a bad habit that I won’t admit is there. This is me formally and fully admitting, I have been wasting time fretting over things I can’t do instead of doing the things I can. The second step is understanding why I do this and how I can work on changing it.

Google is my worst enemy and my best friend. Thankfully today I found some really great information from numerous sources all listed below!

Apparently wasting time by scrolling through Facebook or aimlessly wondering around the house waiting for a task to feel worth the time actually appears to be 1) a pretty common experience and 2) a form of procrastination often linked to anxiety. This is commonly called time-crunch stress which is defined as the feeling that you have too many things to do and not enough time to do them.

I love having a name for things. It honestly makes them easier to deal with just being able to say “I am feeling some time-crunch stress” rather than “I am stressed”. Being specific always helps me feel more grounded because then I can find solutions for this exact situation!

After some reading and research here are some valuable lessons I took away and hope to implement in my own life.

  • Just start doing something. Waiting to feel better before starting a task is a mental trap because the guilt of putting it off often makes it difficult to feel better. Distractions only last so long before we have to face whatever our to-do list holds.
  • Prioritize. If you are a list person, list all the nagging to-dos out and number them from most important to least. If you aren’t, mentally categorize them by priority. Or do whatever works for you as long as you figure out what is most important right now.
  • Break tasks into smaller parts. Thinking about a whole week’s worth of tasks is obviously going to be daunting if you are considering what you need to do right now. This is particularly true if you have unrealistic expectations for yourself. Instead, list out the big, important things then break them down to small things.
  •  Utilize the activating nature of anxiety. Anxiety is an emotion that encourages action because being stagnant often leads to worsened emotions. Anxiety and Excitement are actually sister emotions, one negative and one positive. Transform the anxious feelings into excitement for progress.
  • Practice self compassion. I mentioned before one of my favorite affirmations is I can do ALL the things. I don’t have to do them all today. Acknowledge that what you are going through is a struggle and that you are human. Do the best you can and be gentle to yourself.

Tonight I started by just doing. I stood in my kitchen, again, staring at my cabinets waiting for the motivation to do something, anything to strike so I could be productive. Finally, I sluggishly climbed my staircase and decided to tell you my thoughts. Now, I am going to polish this post and go do my night time yoga routine (even though I really still don’t have the motivation to).

I feel really proud that I wrote tonight instead of scrolling through Facebook for another hour before bed.

If you experience time-crunch stress or similar feelings, how do you cope with them? I love hearing everyone’s thoughts so I invite and encourage you to comment them!

Here’s to just starting.

Below are the list of references I used to make tonight’s post!
Mikel, Betsy. (17 May 2016). 5-Minute Activities to Instantly Boost Your Productivity and Energy. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/betsy-mikel/6-ways-time-crunched-leaders-stay-positive-and-productive-under-stress.html.
Richards, Thomas, A. (2018). Wasting Our Time and Increasing Our Anxiety. Social Anxiety Institute. Retrieved from https://socialanxietyinstitute.org/procrastination-wasting-our-time-and-increasing-our-anxiety.
Why Your Feeling of Not Having Enough Time is a Lie. (23 March 2015). Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3044004/how-to-stop-feeling-like-you-never-have-enough-time.

 

3 thoughts on “Wasted Time

    1. That is an excellent point! It’s so easy to almost glorify being “busy” that I forget to consider if what I’m doing is adding value to my life. Thanks for the comment!!

      Like

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