Time Famine vs. Time Affluence
In today’s fast-paced culture that values achievement and productivity, many of us feel like our days are jam-packed without a spare moment to breathe. In some ways, constant busyness has become the norm. Feeling like there is simply not enough time in the day to get everything done is known as time famine. Living in a frantic state of rushing from one task to the next can have detrimental effects on our mental health, causing exhaustion, burnout, depression, anxiety and decreased feelings of life satisfaction.
The opposite of time famine is time affluence, which refers to the feeling that we have time to engage in activities that are the most meaningful to us, Interestingly enough, time affluence is less about how much time we actually have as opposed to how we feel about the time we have. A recent study revealed that just perceiving there is time in the day for rest, relationship, leisure and pursuing meaningful hobbies significantly increases our feelings of happiness.
7 Tips for Becoming More ‘Time Affluent’
If you are among the many individuals feeling time-starved recently, let’s go through 7 simple ways to create more time affluence in your life:
1. Gain awareness over where your time is going.
Logging how you spend your days is a good place to start. Writing down how many hours are going to certain activities each week will help you to see how you might re-prioritize. You may find that you are spending more time than you’d thought scrolling on social media or lounging in front of the TV. When you really stop to think about it, these activities are not serving to enhance your life.
(If you find that you are losing time due to compulsive behaviors that feel out of your control, visit Mind Diagnostics for resources on various types of addiction, such as gambling addiction: https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/blog/gambling-addiction).
2. Revise your schedule.
Looking at your weekly schedule, think about what activities and responsibilities you could potentially cut out. In doing this, make a list of what you value the most in your life and assess whether your schedule is reflective of this. Remove anything that is taking up time without providing a sense of meaning or allowing you to utilize your gifts and skills to serve others.
3. Optimize small breaks throughout the day.
It’s all about the small moments. Instead of using the several minutes between meetings to answer an e-mail or browse through your news feed, take a moment to enjoy the cup of coffee you’re holding, take deep breaths or simply stop and think.
One study published in the Journal of Psychological Science found that experiencing moments of awe increases time affluence and life satisfaction. Ways you might incorporate awe into your daily routine include spending time in nature, listening to music reading or watching things that inspire you, practicing meditation and taking time to reflect on the incredible wonder of life.
4. Consider how you might ‘buy more time.’
Research has shown that spending money on time-saving services is correlated with higher levels of life satisfaction. Buying time can look like anything from meal delivery to cleaning services, all of which can decrease time pressure and allow you to focus on the activities and people that are most important to you.
5. Rethink how you are spending your down time.
Experts recommend limiting passive leisure (such as hours of Netflix) with more active leisure activities such as spending quality time with friends or family, engaging in volunteer work, exercising or pursuing meaningful hobbies. Paying attention to how you spend leisure time can make room for the things that matter the most even in the midst of the demands of life.
6. Become comfortable with saying ‘no.’
Saying no can be incredibly uncomfortable, especially if you consider yourself a people-pleasers and find that you frequently commit to things that you don’t truly want to do. Remind yourself that you are allowed to protect your time and set boundaries to avoid handing over control of your days to others and the requests they make of you.
Increasing time affluence requires learning how to be okay with declining certain things in favor of the things that infuse your life with the most meaning. Intentionally creating the room to think, rest, connect and dream allows you the space to feel truly alive.