All The Time In the World

If you ask any aspiring early retiree why they want to retire early the answer is often about freedom.  Yet another common answer is related to time.  We want the major of our time to suit our own purposes, which seems very similar, but in some ways is a bit different.

Time is really a subjective experience, it goes fast or slow depending on how we view it. Work can feel like it was twice as long was it really was or when you are enjoying what you are doing hours can vanish in what seems like minutes.  Also feeling busy comes out of your perception of time as well.  So if you have that awful feeling of being frantically busy, keep in mind that it is mostly in your head.

The major issue with our time beyond our basic perception that there isn’t enough of it.  Which ironically exists only in our head.  So the other way to look at the world is just reverse your basic perception and think to yourself: I have all the time in the world.  I know that sounds incredibly nuts, but if you do start adjusting your basic thoughts about time you tend to take those odd moments and actually enjoy them.

For example, I was recently driving home later in the evening and the clouds turned that perfect pink colour in the sun set and it for a moment reminded me of one of my favorite Monet paintings.  So I looked ahead and behind me on the road to confirm no one was near me then I enjoyed the view for a few seconds.  I took the time to enjoy the moment.

The other major thing to take back your time is to restructure what you are doing with it.  So often we end up trying to cram way too much stuff into our days and feed that feeling of being frantically busy.  So the solution to this is be honest with yourself and develop so priorities and stop trying to do it all.  Cut out 80% of the crap you were doing with your time and you will suddenly have lots of time to do the last 20%, which is often the most meaningful anyway.

So for me this meant I stopped writing endless to do lists.  Instead feeling guilt over things I thought I should be doing I’ve realized that if I just write down the few most important things I need to do in the day I can typically manage to get all those items done and feel better about things.  I accept I might forget the odd thing, but mainly I’m just forgetting the crap that would just stay on the list for weeks and not get done.  So how important is something if I can safely ignore it for weeks: the answer is not at all.

I also got honest with myself and stopped trying to do too much at once.  I realized that relaxing is just as important as doing something for long term health.  So yes I do a few items on a weekday after work and then I typically spend the last few hours relaxing reading a book or watching a movie with no guilt at all.  I stay in the moment of what I choose to do and actually enjoy it more.

In the end, you don’t need to retire to get more time.  You have enough time right now if you allow yourself to use it and accept you can’t do it all.  Even with an extra 52 weeks of 40 hours you aren’t going to be able to do it all. So start adjusting your life now to enjoy your time.

So how do you make yourself feel less busy?  Or what have you stopped doing that wasn’t that important?

3 thoughts on “All The Time In the World”

  1. Great tips. I think we all need to step by and take some time to “do nothing” every day so we can reflect on our lives.

    People tend to sign up for way too many commitments which quickly cause you to feel that you have no time to do things that you really enjoy.

  2. Tawcan is right on the commitments being the cause of feeling like there is not enough time. Unfortunately sometimes they aren’t things you’re willing to or can let go of. Kids, pets and houses come to mind there. While working, I pruned my “must do” list down to seriously the bare minimum outside of work. Things just go to shit after awhile without time put into them. Dogs (and me!) gain weight from not being walked enough. Houses get seriously dirty. Reno projects go undone and the to-do list (that’s a serious to-do-freaking-needs-to-be-done-list not a wish list) gets quite overwhelming. So no, depending on your circumstances, there really isn’t a lot of time for everyone.
    As a 20 something single parent working part time, full time university student renting a small apartment with a small child, I felt I had loads of free time. As a 40 something single parent with a dog, house and teenager that likes to make and collect things where I feel like I’m constantly rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic every time I clean the house, not so much free time. So the job had to go.

  3. @Tawcan – Good point. Too many commitments are easy to overwhelm people.

    @Jacq – I think you nailed with “willing to or can let go of” We tend to add too much to our plate because we feel we need to do it. Yet most things can or will wait if you need them to.


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