We may have significantly longer life expectancy’s than those who lived in the Victorian era yet are we achieving more? Parkinson’s Law may very well play into this phenomenon. According to this law, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” The average life expectancy was age 35 for century’s before our current era. Yet so much was achieved! We had Newton, Tchaikovsky, Alcott, and countless accomplished women who managed the home. Imagine how much more we could get out of life if we imagined we had a shorter lifespan. Time is short. Live with intention!
The knowledge that we have a limited amount of time on Earth can give us a sense of urgency. This is not to be mistaken with rushing around, filling up each time gap with activity. This time constraint should drive us to seek the most from every moment. Here are a few common time traps that can detour us from our life goals:
Signing up the kids for more than one activity. Try to stick with one (or even zero!) extra curricular commitments outside of the home. Not only will you save a tremendous amount of time, your children will have time to reflect and think about their own dreams. Equip and allow them time to do creative or entrepreneurial pursuits at home. Once they are 13 or old enough to have their own email account, the world of social media content creation will be open to them. They may gain an interest in Instagram photography, blogging and YouTube video creation. These skills will be highly valuable as they grow older. At any age they can practice drawing, take photographs with their digital device, and write in their journal.
Having notifications turned on your digital devices. This is completely unnecessary as it will only interrupt your routines, causing a loss in momentum. Instead check your social media in a small batch session of 15 minutes. There is also a big countercultural movement to switch to what some term a “dumbphone.” This is simply a basic cell phone which I use. You may find you’re pulled out from the matrix and into the world before us. Relationships will improve with those in your environment as well.
Not limiting your time spent on social media, messaging or texting. Instead set aside 1-2 times per day that you check your text messages, email, Facebook, Instagram and so on. If you are concerned others will be frustrated by your delayed response, know that this is because you have trained them to expect immediacy. I personally reserve lengthy message communication for email or Facebook, as I can type with thoughtful clarity on the laptop.
Running to the grocery store more than once per week. This common time trap is avoidable by being flexible in your meal prep. Do your best to plan ahead with your shopping list, yet if you forgot an item switch out the ingredient with a substitute or make an alternative dish. Time is too precious! Stock your pantry with basic non perishable provisions so that if you run out of food too soon, you have other options. I go no more than once every two weeks. Frozen veggies and other perishables can go in the freezer to lengthen freshness.
Create a Game-Plan to Save the Most Time.
Write down your top key tasks of each day. This is your map. Make sure each day is filled with a balance of necessary daily tasks, life time goals, action steps and rest. Fun tip: Consider keeping this list in a journal as it will double as a life documentation entry.
Time each activity. It’s wise to budget our money, food intake and time! I use a vintage style, cherry wood 15 min hour glass. Lifestyle design is dependent on how we allocate our hours. When planning your day, allow for a reasonable amount of cushion time. Yet stay on course. Imagine you are on a bus ride, which makes key stops at specific time points. Keep moving.
Minimize possessions so that you have more time to follow your passion. The video Man Quits $80K Job to Work in Grocery Store Part Time – Minimalism illustrates the connection to possessions and time drains. Make a habit out of simplifying your possessions. Spend less time browsing online and in-store. Many people fill up precious free-time with unessential shopping!
Common Beliefs for Procrastination:
The Illusion of Retirement or “When the Kids are Grown” We often put high value goals and dreams off indefinitely because of circumstances. They could be recreational dreams, life work goals or daily habits put off into the horizon of “someday”. Most people once they get into the routine of life put off major creative goals. In James Altuchers article When I Retire I Will… he illustrates this point. He has a conversation with his dad, stating that once he has completed all of his schooling and 40 years of work, then he can enjoy life again as he did as a boy! The following are common statements of “Someday….”:
“I’ll paint landscapes again when the kids start school.” Instead of waiting for a massive block of time, it’s best to make small incremental steps. This technique also prevents writers block as you’re creating for a short timed session, which will make you feel less pressure. Set your timer (or hourglass) for 15-45 minutes and work toward your creations.
“When I retire I’ll have time to write the book in my head.” The truth is even if we did “retire” today, the less desirable habits we have in place today would remain if we didn’t make a concerted effort to live intentionally. Work on your “side hustle” project in time chunks. This takes us to the next common statement:
“I can’t work on my side business dream as long I have a day job.” This is where you need to search for time pockets as a treasure hunter would. Time will become available once a lower priority activity or time waster is illuminated. Both James Altucher, who wrote Choose Yourself and the author of the book 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller have said the same thing: Keep your day job until your new business takes off.
“When the children are no longer toddlers I straighten the house.”
Here is another example of putting off a goal for a later date unnecessarily. Setting healthy boundaries and limitations creates wonders. Encourage the kids to play with 1-2 toys at a time. If a set of Lego’s, trains or Barbies are sprawled out, have them gather the pieces into a bucket and put away before getting out a new toy. This also helps with Children’s attention spans.
“Once the kids are grown we can travel.” You may not be able to go oversees, yet you can certainly find ways to travel within 10 hours of your location. Make it a goal to go somewhere new annually. It can be as a close as a 30-60min. drive. At the same time develop the habit of discovering activities within your community. You will also gain a sense of abundance when making this habit.
Not only will we achieve more in the short term by using Parkinson’s Law to our advantage, the compound interest of this habit will build over time! Seize the moment and live “as if.” Avoid time wasters and live with passionate purpose! There is no guarantee that we will live to age 80, so we should act as if we only have a few years to live. Yet hope for the best.