minimalism · musings · personal growth

MINIMALISM + TAKING CONTROL OF OUR TIME

A little while ago, I started critically evaluating my relationship with time, and I think I’m now at the point where I’ve come to some conclusions. I noticed the people around me saying “I don’t have the time” or that there’s “just too much going on”, and I noticed myself saying those things too. It’s almost as if we have this idea that the world decides what we do with our time, as if our time is constantly being stolen from us by the people and things around us, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

I want to challenge that notion by proposing that instead of seeing ourselves as time-poor, as constantly “not having the time”, we should see time as something we have a large – albeit finite – supply of, which we must allocate to the things we value. With this mindset, when we allocate time to something in our lives, we’re acknowledging that it deserves our attention, so that’s what we give it.

As a minimalist, this mindset helps me to not feel so overwhelmed by the demands I often feel creeping up on me, both on a professional and a personal level. When I think of giving my time as allocating value, I’m really forcing myself to think about how much any given activity means to me and then acting accordingly. Often, we’ll need to practise the art of just saying no to free up the time we crave so that we can engage in this process. What I’ve found is that reclaiming my time has brought back a sense of empowerment and control not only to my day-to-day schedule, but to my life direction, too.

I’ll give an example to illustrate my point.

By the end of 2016 I was breaking down practically every night because I hated my job. I had been there for two almost two years and the situation was getting progressively worse; I was at the point where I could barely get out of bed because I dreaded it so much. One evening, Mr SLE said to me, well, why don’t you just quit? Now this is going to sound strange, but before then, quitting had never actually occurred to me as an option. I falsely believed that my time belonged to the company I was working for instead of to me, and because of this I was essentially telling myself that my time had no value.

The telltale signs of this were there, if only I would actually notice them. Due to severe understaffing at the company, new responsibilities were constantly being added to my role, but without any extra compensation or discussion as to how I would actually fit these responsibilities into my day. I would therefore often skip my lunch break and even work unpaid overtime just to wrap things up, thinking that getting things done was more important than getting home to do the things I wanted to do. Because of this, I would arrive at home late, with no energy left for any self-care activities like reading and exercising. Sadly, this went on for a long time because I didn’t value myself enough to think I could ever get any other job, and I certainly didn’t value my time enough to recognise I was wasting it on that miserable job. Eventually, however, I reached breaking point and booked in a meeting with my manager, put in my resignation and walked out of her office feeling on top of the world, knowing that I would soon be leaving that place forever.

Now if I bring myself back to the present moment, I realise I’ve come a long way since that day I resigned in December 2016. I’m learning to say no, and I’m learning to recognise the value of my time as a precious resource. Thanks to the wonderful influence of minimalism in my life, I’m also challenging the false notion that if we decide to do less with our time, we will be less. The opposite is actually true; if we decide to do less, in many ways we’ll be more. More present, and more engaged in what we’re doing, since we’ll no longer mechanically be going through the motions of trying to get everything done. If we begin to believe in only allocating time to the things we value, we can confidently erase those we do not value from our schedules, content in the knowledge that we are taking control of one of our most valuable assets.

As a new year offers itself up before us, I encourage each of us to ask ourselves, are we making time for the things we really value, or are we allowing time to slip through our fingers, too afraid to put our foot down and reclaim it for ourselves?

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6 thoughts on “MINIMALISM + TAKING CONTROL OF OUR TIME

  1. This is such an interesting idea! I’m so glad that you realized your time doesn’t belong to any company – what a game changing realization. I often struggle with the idea that if we don’t have jam packed days, we’re wasting our time. I find myself sometimes saying ‘i don’t have time’ for x thing. But, what I actually mean is that thing isn’t important to me. And I’m ok with that. Not everything, and in fact, very few things are actually worth my time. Once we realize that, I think we’ll find we have much more time than we originally thought. Such an insightful post, Lisa!

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    1. Thanks Britt! It definitely was a game changing realisation and worked wonders not only on the level of managing and allocating my time, but also on the level of self-worth. It’s so true that very few things are actually worth our time. There seems to often be a certain level of procrastination and avoidance involved when it comes to those things – definitely an indicator that we don’t want to do them because they just aren’t important to us and we don’t feel they will be bringing any value. It’s so refreshing to just tell it like it is instead of pretending we want to do things we have zero interest in!

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  2. I think often people are concerned with “being busy” or “looking busy”. I have a family member who is in a similar situation to your previous one, stuck at a job because of the money, but unwilling to take that step to reclaim her time. It’s been so ingrained in us that our career is part of what defines us. I think it’s important to remember that it should actually be an extension of something we enjoy. It’s difficult to find the “perfect fit”. but it can certainly be better than miserable!
    I have found myself complaining to people about not having enough time. Even recently, when I started freeing up my time by focusing on things I love. It seems the water-cooler discussion usually turns in one way or another, to the short hours in a day. I want to start avoiding contributing to this conversation, and instead walk away and make better use of my time. I think it will really bring into focus how much I actually have every day.

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    1. Thanks for your input on this topic Steph 🙂 What a great point you make about our careers being an extension of something we enjoy. I agree that they really should. Life is too short to do something we hate every day or be surrounded by negative people that bring us down. This is something I’ll be working on in 2018 – retraining so I can pursue a career that will bring me fulfilment and meaning rather than just a paycheck that will keep me fed and clothed. I’m currently feeling that not having that kind of career is a missing piece in my puzzle towards a simpler, more meaningful life.

      Good on you for walking away from the discussion about not having enough time, too. I often hear those conversations going on around me at work as well. It seems to me that those conversations quickly descend into negativity and feelings of victimisation. Much better to just get on with it and make use of the time we do have, focussing on taking action to change things if they are not as we would like them to be instead of feeling as if we are fighting a losing battle against the world.

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  3. Love this! Sometimes we are so caught up in the rat race, we did not even have time to breathe, let alone hobbies or exercising! Once we get out of this mindset that we need to “do this and that”, we can finally focus on what truly matters to us. I have a different perspective on YOLO. Instead of “you only live once, so you gonna try everything, no regret”, I believe in “you only live once, so live according to your life calling the best as you can”. Actually, I’ve written a post about my personal journey on minimalism and living life to the fullest. Check it out if you like:
    https://rachelhayashiaki.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/minimalism-is-more-than-owning-less-stuff/

    I wish you all the best in living a simpler and fulfilling life:)
    Btw, love your blog content, keep it up!

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to comment, Rachel. Your kind words mean a lot! I’m so glad to hear you could relate to this post. All the best to you as well for a simple and meaningful year ahead 🙂

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