I engage with many people on a daily basis, despite my somewhat reclusive behaviour as a writer and broody human. One of the most common problems I hear people talk about is the lack of time. Aside from work, family or educational responsibilities, in our digital age everything is out there trying to grab your attention for a couple of minutes, while we have access to hours upon hours worth of entertainment and distractions at the mere push of a button. Essentially, now more than ever, time management is an imperative part of modern life, and as is totally not surprising it’s one of the most difficult things to figure out. I would hope that sharing my experiences and thoughts here may possibly help anyone, who finds that they don’t have time to do the things they really want to do, to perhaps understand why that is.
I feel the first step to managing your time is to stop and be honest with yourself. What is eating your time? There is nothing embarrassing about it. All of us are subject to time wasting, to getting distracted, to just wanting to unwind. We aren’t robots. We can’t function optimally at every minute, and no one can be blamed for just wanting to kick back and indulge in something fun for a while. But I ask because frequently when speaking to people who claim not to have time to do things, I discover that what they should actually be saying is that they don’t make the time. Yes, time management is something that requires a conscious effort, and in order to begin you need to understand where you’re perhaps devoting too much time to the unnecessary. Please understand that this is not some sermon on how you’re wasting your time or anything like that. I love my entertainment, and I indulge in gaming and movies and comic books and TV series as well. But I also make deadly sure that I have time to write my books, to increase my knowledge and further my interests and to aim for self improvement where possible. I’d go mad if I didn’t engage with my passions or interests.
Of course the flaw in what I’m saying here could be that I’m a third year university student, which means I don’t have job responsibility or duty to my family. Naturally I have more precious free time than my senior. But then I’ve looked to my brother, who began working this year and is married, and he has enough time that I see him regularly and he has recently finished writing his second book. Yes, that shared brotherly passion. I’ll give you a moment to go ‘aww’ or roll your eyes. My brother is someone who has aimed for better time management for many years, and of course he too engages in pastimes like watching football or movies like any normal person. So, obviously taking into account that everybody is different, a thought experiment would be, is it that you don’t have the time, or you’re not making the time? I really do understand that adults with young children are among the most strained for time, and I hope that something can still be taken from this if that is the case. Otherwise when I reach that stage in my life I’d love to revisit the topic and see if I could contribute further. Also keep in mind that I’m addressing people who feel they don’t have time for the things they want to do, so if you’re spending all your time with what you love, then perhaps you’re in a content state of mind.
For now, especially for those who are young, my age or below, I would urge you not to underestimate the time that you have. You really do have a lot, and all it takes is for you to be aware of it and just put aside some hours to be productive and see what it can get you. I’m not some monk who devotes all my time to one particular thing, but as I said time management is an active, conscious effort. Think about it. In this day and age, the internet and Facebook and Twitter and forums and all our lovely distractions sometimes can offer too much to be able to keep up with. There’s just too much, acquirable in too little time. You start reading one thing or watching one video, and before you know it you’re left wondering where all the hours went to. That is the central problem of the digital age, as we know, and it’s exactly why filtering and time management are essential concepts to grasp. It’s up to you whether you’d like to be involved in everything and every hot topic, but sometimes being a jack of all trades or wanting to do or be involved in everything can result in mastering no one thing. I speak from experience here, as in the last year I fell victim to that at EGMR when I started dabbling in so many other things instead of what I actually loved most and enjoyed most and felt I was best at: writing opinions, creating discussions with the community and reviews. I underwent a huge restructuring of my role, and emerged this year so much happier and more focused for it. Sometimes, it is necessary to do that in your life.
To apply it with a more general example, it is sometimes necessary to take an honest look at what you’re doing on a daily basis, and what you wish you could do, and then trimming down the excess. I used to watch a ton of TV series, for example, but after self-reflection I realised that not all of them were great in the sense that I couldn’t wait to watch them. I rather just watched them because they were there, was partially invested or curious or I was outright lazy. Whatever your barrier is to doing what you’re excited about, whether it’s a lack of self-belief, not having the commitment or just putting off starting, the very first step must surely be the will to make time to do it. No one is telling you that you can’t watch or play or do anything you enjoy doing for fun or for some entertainment, but it is important to understand that if you are doing those things, you do actually have the time available to you. It’s just a case of neglecting the reality that perhaps you aren’t making the time for what you want. And that is something that can be changed with effort.
In closing I know that I’ve maybe been a bit too brief with such an important topic, but I also aim to keep my pieces shorter and with the intention of provoking thought within the reader. I’m still figuring my way out myself, and perhaps you’ve been there, are there or have much more wisdom and experience than me and can even help me out with any of the issues I speak about here. Learning from other people’s experiences, actions, mistakes, shortcomings or wisdom is a good way to learn, but it is equally important to learn from your own missteps as well. If you’re doing too much or spending too much time with pastimes you feel you don’t need and they are preventing you from doing other things, perhaps it’s time to make some changes or do some trimming. Don’t go to the other extreme and give everything up, because often things like time management are a process. Slowly but surely phase excess out, and substitute them with more productive or important things to you. Regardless, however, avoid falling victim to underestimating the time you actually have, and allow yourself to watch it fly by without realising you had it all along.