Do you really need an extra hour in the day?

putting sand in the jarDo you really need an extra hour in the day?

I think that if as naturopaths we could teach our clients how to triage their busy schedules by helping them get better time management skills then we’d see a massive change in their lives. One thing I hear everyone say is “I’m so busy” (including myself). So often whenever the question is about doing something for your health the answer is “Oh I was going to – but I got busy.”

Sometimes being busy keeps us from doing the thing we feel we should do (but actually don’t want to be doing); it might sound convoluted, but this kind of thing really does happen. We might say we want to lose weight, but deep, deep down we aren’t really sure if we want the attention that would come with that. Or we might say we want to have more time so we can clean, do our taxes or hang out with certain friends etc but in reality – you don’t really want to clean with your only day off in a month, the thought of doing your taxes just doesn’t inspire you and catching yo with that particular friend leaves you feeling exhausted rather than renewed and so being busy is a legitimate way to avoid doing these things (I’ve talked a bit more about being busy in this post here recently).

Some people are really hard to say “no” to, they can be snarky, bitchy and manipulative and sometimes it can feel like you’re only armor against these people who would use all you have to give and “suck you dry” only to discard you when you’ve outgrown your usefulness is to actually be perpetually busy.

I had a counselor once say that these kind of people can be a bit like dogs, they can smell your fear (or in this case ambivalence, lack of confidence to say “no” and hesitation) and so if you can’t say a confident “no” and they can get a foot in the door and think they have a chance, they’ll keep asking until they get the “ok.” (The same could be said for telemarketers as long as you’re still on the phone, they’ll keep trying to sell and convince you to sign up for their product).

So do we really need more hours in the day or are the 24 actually enough?

One of the solutions to being busy and needing more time so there is time to relax and take care of our own health is to say something like, “Oh if I only had more hours in the day?” Have you said this? I know I have! So I was surprised the other night while reading a passage in the book Work Smarter Think Better where the author (Cyril Peupion) paraphrased a story about a teacher demonstrating a metaphor about time management to their class by filling a jar with large rocks, then smaller rocks, then sand and then water.¬† Basically it was a metaphor for being able to still find time to do things even when the schedule looks full.

Wow. As you know, I’m a fan of stories, metaphors and analogies and this one really hit home and I had a couple of epiphanies.

Firstly, the author explained that that story demonstrates the importance of doing the important tasks first because if your jar is full of sand and water then there is no room for the big rocks.

While I’ve heard this concept before, the image of the sand and the rocks really hit home for me especially with what he said next which was this: As he often hears people saying they’d like more time in the day, he asks his seminar attendees what they’d do with an extra hour if they could have an extra hour each day.

I asked myself what I would really do with an extra hour. Right now, as I am with my current “to do list” and list of goals, aspirations and desires and it was right then in that moment that I realised something – when I looked at my current diary and my adult life: We already have that extra hour; I’ve just been spending it on sand and water and small rocks or other people’s big rocks instead of my big rocks.

Imagine my surprise at that revelation!

24 hours in a day is enough. The problem is that we are trying to stuff too much into the days, weeks, months and years of our lives. And it’s not “big rock” stuff. Most of the time, for the really busy people, it’s not even our own “stuff” but someone elses!

So what would you do with an extra hour in your day today?

I was horrified to realise that if I actually got an extra hour at the moment, I’d probably be spending it checking email, figuring out the wording in a social media post, answering the interview questions for a project I agreed to help out with,¬† or doing one of the many other tasks that I’ve inherited, offered to take on or was delegated. Things which even when at the time I said yes “I had just enough time to do” but I hadn’t taken into consideration things that come up like the kids getting sick, pupil free days, worthy causes I’d feel like I should help out with and as a consequence that I’d be playing catch-up for the next month or more on my “big rocks” and I’d be scrambling myself to the point of burnout to get it all done.

What would you really like to do with “spare time”?

I asked myself what I would really like to do with an hour of spare time each day. I decided I’d like to read for fun again. In high school I was one of the students who’d read the most books in one year in my English class. I soon outgrew our library and began working through our community library and buying books until I went to Uni and joined a writers club. I’m eclectic and love to read everything from fantasy, paranormal and romance fiction to non-fiction. But over the last few years most of my reading is “for work”. I still enjoy it, like this book by Cyril Peupion, but it’s not the same as reading Harry Potter or the Black Dagger Brotherhood books which give complete escapism.

My husband gave me a book for my 37th Birthday (It was one of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward if you’re curious). I knew what it was and by a series of events on the morning of opening presents (kid dramas, running late for a family event followed by working on the show) the book stayed wrapped up until Christmas that year. On Christmas day I opened it as a matter of principle, and then I defiantly read a couple of chapters last year when I was stuck in bed with a bad cold. I’ve just turned 39 and I still haven’t finished the book. In the “old” days I would have read that book in 1-2 days.

I realised that over the last couple of years, at best I’m lucky to read a couple of pages of any book before bed each night, when I used to read a couple of hundred pages a day. And I’ve been putting the “for fun fiction” reading off until that magical time in the future when I have this “free hour” in the day.

Other things I could do when I create time in my schedule for this magical “extra hour” is exercise, cook, or sit and chat with my kids and my hubby.

So I’ll leave you with this thought – what would you do with an extra hour in the day?

Is there enough room in your jar for your big rocks?

When I went to the beach yesterday to take the photo for this blog post, I decided to create a couple of reminders about this particular epiphany so if you’d like to get the little worksheet I put together and the hi-res version of some of the images I took down at the beach to help prompt you to work out and remember the “Big rocks” in your life, just enter your name and details below and I’ll send you the link.