My high school guidance counselor, who was also my Physics teacher, once addressed our class and said "People, there is one thing in this world that you will never have enough of, no matter what. That is Time."
At the time, I thought it was very profound and absolutely 100% true, I myself being a person who has perpetually struggled with the art of time management since I arrived into this world. However, now that I have some more age and experience under my belt, I can see that while on the surface this appears to be true, it is also the generally held idea of "not having enough time" that keeps us stuck in habits of time wasting and stressing about time, all the while holding us back from truly enjoying and using to our highest benefit the time that we do have. Let's be honest: we have days, weeks, months, and years. We do have all the time that we need; it is a matter of learning a balance between prioritizing how we spend that time and also going with the flow, and that I think is what was at the root of what my teacher was trying to impart to us. He was trying to tell us that we needed to learn to live our desired lives while accomplishing what we needed to get done in the time that we DO have, rather than to focus on an idea of endless time that does not exist.
It is easy and very human to get stuck in a broken record message of "not having enough time" to cook dinner, bring lunch to work, go to the gym, take a walk, play with your kids, have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner, look for a new job, or clean your apartment. In reality, we spend minutes, hours, days and weeks telling ourself how little time we have while we tune out in front of the internet, the TV, or at work, numbing ourselves to needs that we want and deserve to fill "if we only had the time". Everyone can relate to this...when was the last time you got so worked up about how little time you had that in the end you got nothing on your list done, not even the "important" things? We need to tune out that mental noise and still the anxiety inside of us about not having enough time, and instead repeat the message to ourselves that we have all the time that we need, and WE decide how we are going to use it. Because, no matter what, it is important for us to realize the truth in that statement. Everything that we do, everything that we say, everything that we make, use, or eat, is a choice.
So what matters to you? I hear so often "I don't have time to do that". So often, it is an excuse that a person is using to keep themselves in the same safe, numb routine of not having to push themselves, not having to face the fear of bettering themselves or taking on new goals. It is a message that's been repeating in the person's mind for so long that they don't even see the damage that it's causing by depriving them of the satisfaction that they are capable and deserving of. At the root of it, it's a way of cheating oneself, and keeping oneself down, because it's familiar and easy that way. We do it all the time, and we don't have to!
Let's take exercise: people say that they don't have time to go to the gym or exercise. Generally speaking, 45 minutes to 1 hour of the day, 5 days a week should be spent doing some kind of physical activity or exercise, but 30 minutes a day is a great start. So let's say you have a heavy work schedule and feel that you can't give one hour of the day 5 days a week to the gym. You say to yourself "Well forget it, if I can't do that, then why bother with anything". But wait. If you live in a city, you can walk to work. 9 out of 10 days, the weather is just fine for walking to work, even in winter. We all have coats and scarves and gloves; bundle up! 20-30 minutes each way walking to and from work gives you between 40 minutes - 1 hour of exercise 5 days of the week; it's completely free, and actually saves you money on your transportation costs. Not to mention, most people's subway commute with walking on either end winds up taking about 30 minutes anyway, so that gets rid of the "not having time" excuse. Not into walking outside? Weather just too awful? Buy yourself a few inexpensive workout DVDs online. They usually run about $12-$15 and many of them on the market are designed to give you a full toning workout in 20-30 minutes. Pop one of these into the DVD player when you get up in the morning before your shower, or at night after work and before dinner, and there you go: that 30 minutes you would have spent reading email with your coffee has now been spent giving you a healthy, energized body. If you really get into it, do one in the morning and a different one at night. You will hardly notice each 30 minutes you've spent in the comfort of your own home, but at the end of the day you've exercised for an hour without really having sacrificed much.
The same goes for cooking and preparing food. So often people tell themselves they don't have time to make a healthy lunch and bring it to work. In reality, it takes less time to whip something up at home and toss it into a bag than it takes to leave the office, walk or drive over to the deli or take-out place, stand in line, and return to the office with your food. And when you add in the money you save from bringing your own lunch, the health benefits are the biggest benefit but by no means the only one! Generally what I see when I begin working with people is that lunch is their unhealthiest meal; they are either skipping lunch entirely because they "don't have enough time", or they are scarfing down a nutritionally-deficient meal laden with calories, fat, and sodium because it was whatever they could grab at the nearest food joint. Instead, try stocking the kitchen with the following easy lunch staples: nuts of various kinds, fresh fruits, hummus, beans (either home-cooked or in a can), chopped raw vegetables, cooked vegetables (dinner leftovers are great for this), cooked rice (can be made ahead of time and kept for days), carrot and celery sticks, dried fruit, whole grain bread or wraps, zip lock bags and small plastic containers. Here is a lunch idea: fill one ziploc bag with a small handful of nuts mixed with a little bit of dried fruit, another one with a bunch of carrots and celery sticks, a small plastic container of hummus, and a small container of beans tossed with brown rice and a little olive oil and vinegar. If you have some raw or cooked vegetables (dinner leftovers are great for this), toss them in with the beans and rice.
Another lunch idea: grab a piece of fresh fruit or a little bag of fresh berries, a little bag of olives, a whole grain wrap spreaded with hummus and filled with raw or cooked veggies, and a small container of fresh salad on the side. You can mix and match the parts and use your imagination; it doesn't have to be fancy, it has to be functional. For some great, easy veggie ideas and to make sure you are covering your bases, read the Varying your Veggies post further down on this page.
Most importantly, when it comes to time and having enough of it, as paradoxical as it may seem, you need to SLOW DOWN. We do so much rushing around these days, it's no wonder we are in a fit over having enough time. This is such an important thing to remember in our day to day life, because the days will pass whether we are noticing them or not, and our valuable moments can pass us by if we are not careful to appreciate them. Take this lesson into the most basic aspects of your day. Remember to breathe, and be calm. You cannot and will not accomplish everything in one day; you aren't supposed to. Start to rethink the messages you repeat to yourself about not having enough time, and then be honest with yourself about it. Where can you carve out some more time from tasks that are not important to you and give that precious time over to the things you have been promising to do for yourself?
Stay tuned for more Tips on Time in following entries, including information about the importance of eating slowly and chewing, and how to save time and bucks by preparing easy, wallet friendly meals at home!
Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org