One of the most frequent statements I hear myself say is ‘I don’t have enough time’. Sound familiar? We talk A LOT about time – having it, not having it, wishing we had more of it, in fact sometimes it feels like we are governed by time. This linear journey of our day and the commitments that fill it can feel restrictive, stressful, and let’s face it – exhausting! No time = no energy right?
So how can we shift away from this dialogue of ‘not having enough time’? Is there a way to find more time and more energy? A way to find more time for the things we love?
A great way to help identify the moments where you may be able to create more time in your life is through an exercise called ‘Nourish/Deplete’. I have done this a number of times and always find it incredibly useful to list out the things I do on a day to day basis and then rate them in a variety of ways.
Step 1 – List Making
First of all take a given day from your schedule and list all the things you do. You could start at top level (go to work; cook dinner; see a friend) or dive a little deeper into the granular level (i.e. list your individual work tasks, your individual chores at home).
Step 2 – List Rating
Now rate your list into:
- N = Nourish. Which activities from your list nourish you (lift your mood, connect you to yourself, make you feel calm, energised, happy)
- D = Deplete. Which activities deplete you (make you feel tense, drain your energy, make you anxious)
You should now be left with a list of D’s and N’s – what does your balance between D’s and N’s look like? Does one clearly outweigh the other or are they happily balanced?
Nourishing tasks help us to build resilience to life’s stresses and strains, they connect us to ourselves and bring us joy, whereas deplete tasks drain our energy and eat away at our capacity to enjoy life. Having the awareness of where your balance lies brings with it the power to change it or at least deal with it better.
Step 3 – Deplete Focus
Now look at just the depletes – so what can we do about those pesky things that take up our time and energy? Take your deplete list and rate them again:
- S = Skip. Are there things you can skip this week? We are used to going full pelt with our diaries (I am SO guilty of this) but do we really have to? I mean REALLY? Going to the gym 4 nights a week is admirable and so is seeing a friend on your one night off but could you skip these on the odd week? Don’t feel guilty cancelling something every now and then and instead giving yourself the gift of time (my ultimate favourite phrase!!). Time to rest at home, time to have a hot bath, time to read a book, go to Yoga, spend extra time with family. Whatever it is, it is valid if it restores and brings you back to a place of wellbeing.
- C = Chuck. Are there things you do in your day/life that don’t serve you well and you can drop? For me cleaning my house was one – I switched around by budget and treated myself to a cleaner once a week and gained a precious 2 hours! It doesn’t sound much but I now spend that time reading = nourish!
- A = Attitude change. The hardest one of all but probably the most rewarding, is if you can’t skip it or chuck it can you instead change your attitude towards those tasks. So instead of thinking ‘oh god I have to walk the dog AGAIN’ can you look at the task in a different way? It might be that you change the thought to a positive statement i.e. ‘fantastic, I get to go out into the fresh air again today!’. Alternatively can you take a deep breath and work on dropping the negative thought as soon as it enters your head – by dropping the thought you drop the stress associated with it. So the task stays the same (walking the dog) but how you deal with it alters.
In conclusion, the boring and mundane time consuming tasks will always exist but by trying to shift the balance to doing more of the things we love, by giving ourselves the gift of time or by changing our attitude to one of acceptance, we can begin to move towards a happier, healthier, calmer and more joyful way of life with more time to live, love, laugh and breathe.
Get list making!