Day 12: Too much to do, not enough time to do it

Leading up to Thanksgiving, each day I will blog about what I’m doing to be more grateful. I invite you to join me, and to share your thoughts, observations, suggestions and ideas.

Day 12: Making time to give thanks

All this week, I have been writing about the many reasons I’m not as grateful as I should be: wanting what I don’t have, being frustrated by life’s annoyances, regret, anger at other people.

stopwatch

Are you racing against time like a sprinter?

There’s yet another reason that’s perhaps less toxic but in some ways more insidious: lack of time.

I’ve noticed that the socially appropriate way to answer when someone asks how you’re doing is not necessarily “fine,” but instead “busy.” Maybe you add a flourish like “crazy busy” or “swamped.”

If we’re all busy racing around, even the best intentioned of us can find the week has slipped away without getting to the gym or making dinner at home. Writing in my gratitude journal every day takes time and maybe at the end of the day, I realize I haven’t done it and I just want to go to sleep.

Here are two ways to cope with lack of time:

1. Do less

You’re already skeptical, aren’t you? You’re busy at work, you’ve got obligations at home, maybe the kids need to be shuttled to lessons, you’ve got social plans if you’re lucky, and you can’t see how you could possibly do less.

One of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits, has suggestions on just that.

It may seem paradoxical that Do Less can mean you’re more productive — and if you define “productive” as meaning “get more done” or “do more”, then no, Do Less won’t lead to that kind of productivity.

But if instead you define “productivity” as a means of making the most of your actions, of the time you spend working (or doing anything), of being as effective as possible, then Do Less is the best way to be productive.

Consider: I can work all day in a flurry of frenetic activity, only to get a little done, especially when it comes to lasting achievement. Or I can do just a couple things that take an hour, but those are key actions that will lead to real achievement. In the second example, you did less, but the time you spent counted for more.

The post goes on to give specifics about how to do less, including cutting back on buying, busy work, over managing and over parenting and complaining. Check it out here.

I have tried to do less this year, cutting out some activities I was doing out of obligation and saying yes less cautiously. Still, it’s a work in progress, so #2 is still pretty helpful.

2. Make use of small chunks of time

Keith Ferrazzi, whose book Who’s Got Your Back I pimp regularly, has a helpful free e-mail newsletter. He provides practical tips on improving your relationships, including this one:

Use your taxi time. We all have wasted time slots; the grocery store line is another. They’re wasted because we’re not prepared to use them.

For me, this has meant spending time on the subway writing in my gratitude journal. It could just as easily mean thinking about the reasons I’m grateful while I blowdry my hair or while I’m waiting for a meeting to start.

Does being too busy get in the way of taking time to be grateful? If so, how do you deal with that?

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Categories: lifestyle

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7 replies

  1. ‘I’ve noticed that the socially appropriate way to answer when someone asks how you’re doing is not necessarily “fine,” but instead “busy.” Maybe you add a flourish like “crazy busy” or “swamped.”’

    So true Colleen, especially here in New York.

    Joseph Campbell said you’ve got to have a space or time that is sacred: your Bliss Station. Without that, we’re like chickens with our heads cut off.

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