I have no time syndrome

Case study

Jenny is a mother of two toddlers, aged 2 and 4. Jenny is also a senior finance manager at a boutique financial consulting firm. It would be an understatement to say that Jenny’s life is busy. Jenny knows that she has a lot more to give, both to her family as well as her career.


However, by the time she finishes her work, pick-up the kids from daycare, does the dinner rituals and puts the two kids to bed, she feels exhausted and drained. Though she has a supporting partner, she feels like that there’s not enough time to do everything and there’s hardly any time for her to unwind and be herself. And, most frustratingly, she would have to repeat the same cycle the next day, and the next and the next…. Only if there was a bit more time in the day!


What can Jenny do to alleviate this situation, and get back to feeling energetic, fulfilled and joyous?


Solution

Jenny is, unfortunately, not alone in feeling this way. A lot of us experience this lack of time, also known as “I have no time syndrome” - at least in certain stages of our lives.


If we distill it down, here are some of the most common time consumers that keep us from getting important things done:


  • Watching TV (Average American watches 5 Hours of TV a day. Average Australian is not that far behind)

  • Surfing the internet

  • Running “errands” whenever they pop-up

  • Non-Productive reading

  • Time spent on “making up our minds”

  • Gaming (video and smartphone games)

  • “News”

  • Inefficient house routines/ work methods


By no means is this a condemnation of the above activities. In fact, if we are being intentional about conscientiously participating in the activities listed above, it can be quite entertaining and fun. These activities are highlighted for the purpose of illustrating that we tend to engage in above activities in quite a mindless/ non-conscientious manner.


As a result, we don’t recognise how we spent our available time outside of work and doing routine/ ‘must do’ activities (i.e. taking care of the kids). When we are not conscientious about how we spend our time, it just blends in from one activity to another. And, at the end, we feel like we haven’t done much, and there’s no time left to do anything else either.


A part of formulating a solution for the “I have no time syndrome” is to understand the scientific reasons behind why we feel this way. As Jayson DeMers shared in the Inc. magazine, there are 7 scientific reasons why we don’t feel like we have enough time.

  1. Not waking up early

  2. Engaging in mult-itasking

  3. Not practicing time management techniques and/ or having inefficient work methods

  4. Not getting enough rest

  5. Being too concerned with time

  6. Pessimistic thoughts/ attitudes towards time

  7. Too engrossed in work


Here are the top 3 things we can employ to immediately claim back the overwhelm or nagging feeling we get around not having enough time.

  1. Wake up 30 mins earlier than usual: This will enable you to have a calm and peaceful moment everyday, by yourself. In this time period, either stay awake and be mindful, or read or write something positive. This makes a huge difference over time.

  2. Be grateful: practice gratitude everyday before falling asleep. Just find three things you are grateful for today. Writing this down on a journal is the best. But, if it feels like a big stretch, visualise the moment you are grateful for in your mind, and feel the good vibes and energy in your body. Be grateful for the things you were able to get done with the time you had, rather than focusing on all the things you weren’t able to get done.

  3. Cut down screen time: Reduce your screen time (TV, mobile, gaming etc) to no more than 1 hour a day. Don’t be the person who spends 3+ hours everyday staring at a screen for unintentional entertainment or using screens as a distraction. Instead use screen time as a reward mechanism, or to celebrate the end of the work week by watching and enjoying a movie on a Friday and Saturday night.


Outcome

Jenny did a bit of a self assessment on where she spends her time. What she found surprised her. Below is the assessment:


  • Jenny was spending more than 3 hours a day watching TV and scrolling through social media. Though challenging, she cut this down to no more than 1 hour a day.

  • She also observed that when the alarm goes off in the morning, she just snoozes the alarm, then lies in bed, tossing and turning until the alarm goes off again. Then she repeats the cycle a couple of times before getting off the bed. This accounts for more than 20mins everyday. Jenny decided to make it a habit to get up and out of the bed when the alarm goes off the first time. Thus regaining a good 15 - 20 mins back.

  • Jenny also assessed that they don’t follow a routine when it comes to kids bedtime and an easily repeatable method when it comes to meal preparation. By doing simple things like cooking a batch of meals on one day, rather than cooking everyday, Jenny and her partner were able to save about 30 - 45mins everyday. It also removed the anxiety the family would feel everyday around what we are going to eat tonight.


By making the above small adjustments, Jenny was able to reclaim 3+ hours a day back into her life, especially on work days. She was able to use this time to connect with her partner in a conscientious manner and also learn and read new things in her professional field.


Most importantly, during the first few weeks, Jenny made sure to commit and be disciplined on the new time reclaim practices. Now, Jenny feels that she has time to focus on her interests as well as the family in an intentional and joyful way.


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