On Having No Time

It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! Today I am lamenting the fact that I have no time. Join me, won’t you?

Back in late August I talked about our culture’s Cult of Busy-ness. Money and status come with Important Responsibilities, and Important Responsibilities mean you’re busy. Having Too Much To Do is almost like a religion for us, and productivity is how we measure our value as people.

As the mother of a two young children, I feel as if there will never be enough time in the world for everything that I need to do, let alone half the stuff I merely want to do. I have been at home full-time, I have worked outside the home and I have worked at home, and lack of time has remained a part of my reality regardless. There are upsides and downsides to whatever choice you make, but as long as you have little kids you are going to be hard-pressed to find the hours in a day to do it all.

Having ‘no time’ and being ‘busy’ are relative. I thought I had no time when I was a single university student, and then I thought I had no time when I worked full time and did some volunteer activities, and then I thought I really had no time when I had my first baby. These days, my friends with more than one child and I say to each other, “Do you remember how we thought we were busy with one? Yeah, we really didn’t know from busy.” Your definition of ‘busy’ changes, along with your definition of ‘sleeping in’ or ‘getting out the door quickly’.

As my life has gotten fuller I’ve discovered that being busy is less about having stuff to do, and more about how you choose to spend your time. I complain to my husband that I can never finish an article in the paper, yet I read dozens of blogs every day. I used to complain that I had no time to work in my garden, and now I find that time more easily because I am home during daylight hours and my kids like to be outside with me. They help me water and we kill two birds with one stone, but I don’t get through my email inbox. And even in the middle of the lost socks and Jacob peeing on the floor and trying to get dinner on the table and do some freelance work, if something really important comes up I do it. I find the time.

In the place I’m in now, trying to build a new life, I do not have the luxury of long, uninterrupted stretches in which to work. While I write this post I am holding Jacob, who is napping in my arms because that’s the only place he sleeps during the day. The cat is on my desk, the dishwasher is running, and the room I’m sitting in is a terrible mess. I have to set my priorities, though, or I will not get any writing time at all. By necessity, I have gotten better at seizing the time I have and pressing through, because it’s the only choice I have, the only way I can get work done.

There are lots of ways to manage your time and become more efficient. But the best way that I know is this – recognize that you are never going to have ‘more time’. Waiting for the magical day when you do is fruitless. So in the little time that you do have, set priorities and do what needs to get done. If that means turning off the computer and writing with a pen and paper so that Twitter doesn’t call to you, so be it. If that means setting a timer and saying, “OK, I have 15 minutes to clean this room,” then so be it. And if that means that you need to take a little downtime so that you don’t fall in a million pieces, do it and do it unrepentantly. The only time you really have is right now, so you’ve got to make it work to your advantage.

How do you combat the reality that just aren’t enough hours in the day? Or, have you managed to overcome that feeling? Please share!

February’s Crafting my Life series is about time management. Exciting? Debatable. Important? Absolutely. On the last Thursday of the month, which just happens to be the 25th, I will include a link up. To participate, write a post on this month’s theme and add yourself to the list. Then go off and read everyone else’s ideas and thoughts and be inspired! Check out January’s link up to get a feel for how it works.

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  1. Hi Amber,
    Being the mother of two as well, of course I can relate to everything you said. Also, I’ve blogged recently about my frustration with rushing around and having no time or money since I had kids. I really appreciate your perspective and enjoyed this statement “Your definition of ‘busy’ changes, along with your definition of ’sleeping in’ or ‘getting out the door quickly’.” It’s so true. I don’t have any advice on how to get more time. I am having a struggle right now trying to make myself go to the gym for some “me” time. The struggle I have is that I’d actually rather be home playing with the kids than spending more time away from them. If I was to go after then went to bed then I’m cutting into time where I could be sleeping or preparing for the next day. I’ve just had to face the fact that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Just like our definition of busy changes, so does your definition of “me time” which for me these days is sitting up in bed and reading for 30 mins to an hour before going to sleep.

  2. Excellent advice, Amber. It really is all about prioritizing. Right now, I’m prioritizing sleep–that’s where my “free time” is going–but I consider it time well spent.
    Wake me up when Spring is here!
    .-= Sarah´s last post ..Santa Baby =-.

  3. I’d just discovered this website: flylady.net. It’s helping me find a good work/life balance, when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your household, but a lot of it can be extended to other parts of your life. I will need it as I’ll be going back to work from my mat leave in just over a week! Eep!

    I also try not to get sucked into something like Twitter, it’s a waste of time for me. I *dont’ need* to know what’s going on in the world every few minutes, and it’s just too much information overload already.

  4. This what you wrote: “recognize that you are never going to have ‘more time’. Waiting for the magical day when you do is fruitless.” is what I’m realizing now. I’m coming to terms with being happy about baby steps towards my goals. No, I can’t pull an all nighter to clean out our garage, but I can sort out a pile to be donated.

    I find it is amazing what i can accomplish when I have “no time”.
    .-= AmberDusick´s last post ..Speaking of Detours – Free Diaper Bag Pattern =-.

  5. Oh totally! I am struggling with this right now, taking a step back to see what I really do want to make time for, trying to be thoughtful about it… Can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be with kids! 😉

  6. Oh no, I’ve totally solved that problem. I just don’t clean my house or cook or do laundry any more. 🙂

    I’ve been rushing around like an idiot all week making preparations for Eve’s birthday party. I tend to overdo everything and I tend to get frazzled about everything, so I just have to be very organized (which is very out of character for me) about what’s going to get done on what day. Eve started grade one this year, so I have until 2:45 off every day, and between working in the library, volunteering in their classes, working out and my course and the normal house crap, I still feel like I have no time. And yes, I’ve said that exact same thing about really believing I was busy before I had kids. (hearty slightly maniacal laughter).
    .-= Allison McCaskill´s last post ..**************Yes, I do get rather passionate about my tinned fruit =-.

  7. You know what’s funny? After that tweet where you announced you’d completed all your posts until next week I was convinced that you were some Superwoman to find the time to do everything you do. Even though this post claims otherwise I think it could be true. Or I’m just woefully unorganized. 😀

    Lack of time is something I lament daily and I’m still trying to figure out how to get things done. I would LOVE to go to bed before 11:30pm every night.
    .-= Marilyn´s last post ..What I Learned: Costco Shopping Trip =-.

  8. I love this post. Thank you for reminding me how important the “present” is, after all it’s the only time I can count on.

    I’m afraid I don’t handle my time all that well. I tend to procrastinate until panic-mode MAKES me do it. Somehow it usually gets done (and I convince myself that was thi important thing) but I know there are better ways….
    .-= *pol´s last post ..Du-oh! =-.

  9. You are so right, Amber! Time is never going to magically appear! It’s a matter of creating moments for oneself. Thanks for this post!
    .-= Old School/New School Mom´s last post ..Toddler Headstands =-.

  10. Love this post. Sometimes it’s about prioritizing, other times, it’s just about letting go.

    I have found that the really important things will get done. And the dust bunnies don’t bite.
    .-= Rebecca´s last post ..Valentine’s Day is a day for…chocolate =-.

  11. What a great post.

    I am right on the brink of going back to work and am wondering what my day is going to look like. I am starting to think of all the things I get done ‘during naps’ that will soon need to be done before or after work. There are things I have started doing in the last year that are time investments, but I don’t want to give them up. Like doing a lot of cooking at home and, recently, starting to bake our own bread, muffins and granola bars. I think I am just going to really plan ahead and try to use my time wisely (like cooking a BIG pot of something I can freeze and get a bunch of meals out of), so I get at least an hour of ‘downtime’ in the evening- something I need to keep sane.
    .-= kathleen´s last post ..Attention all Moms =-.

  12. Between the crazy job and the crazy (in a good way) family, I don’t have much time for many of my old hobbies and pastimes. However, I do find myself reading blogs late into the evenings sometimes, when I should be sleeping. I’m going to try to be more mindful of my time and not just let it slip away when I’m not paying attention.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..Brothers =-.

  13. I’m not sure I can add much more because you’ve described it so well. Next week I return to work after my maternity and my stomach is seriously in knots over how to cope with chaos that is sure to ensue. People keep telling me I’ll have to pick my battles (easier said than done). I’m a list maker, that helps, but sometimes that just makes all that you have to do that much more visual and depressing. I’ve got no answers but will be blogging about my journey to “manage”. Can’t wait for this month’s posts!

  14. You always write things with such clarity. I only recognized that I wasn’t going to have “more time” when my second child was born, and then I started getting things done, instead of waiting for that long stretch of time that never came in order to do things.
    PS it’s snowing here by the Mediterranean, and as I watch the snow fall I’m thinking of you happily watering your Canadian garden:)
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..One full year =-.

  15. When I grow up, I want to be a blogger just like you.

    I have similar conversations with my friends with children and even my husband. We often say, “What did we used to do with all our free, open weekends??” It feels like a million years ago.

    My big time-management tip is making a schedule. I love lists and structure and I always feel better to tick things off a list. Sometimes things get carried over to the next day, and that’s totally ok, but it helps me manage my time and feel more organized.
    .-= Jessica – This is Worthwhile´s last post ..The nuclear family is not my friend =-.

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