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Have time for adventures.

Laura Vanderkam shares five tips on how to feel less busy while getting more done.

Ever feel like you’re always busy? No one can make more time, but a few simple strategies can make the time we have feel richer and fuller.

Where does the time really go? We tell ourselves plenty of stories about where the time goes (“I’m so busy! I have no free time at all!”) but why not find out for sure? Try tracking your time for a week. You can use an app, a spreadsheet, a notebook – whatever works. Use your Google Calender to log in the tasks done every hour. We will then discover that we have some pockets of time that can be redeployed for meaningful activities if we wish.

Plan in little adventures. When time isn’t memorable, we don’t remember it. That’s how whole years can disappear into memory sinkholes. I still remember the highlights of my life during my childhood till about 19 then everything is one big mess once I hit my 20s. I no longer remember when I visited which country and the only clues are in the photos taken with the date imprinted in the file.

Try planning in little adventures to make the days stand out from each other. These adventures don’t have to be elaborate. Grab colleagues or your siblings for a picnic lunch. Take the kids to a playground after dinner. Gather your friends for a meal away 2 hours away from where you stay.

Be careful with “yes.” If you want to have time for adventures, you can’t pack your schedule with things you don’t want to do. One strategy? When asked to do something in the future, ask yourself if you’d do it tomorrow. That makes the opportunity costs clearer.

If the answer is that you’d be willing to move things around or cancel things to fit in this new obligation, then by all means say yes. But if the answer is an absolute no for tomorrow, probably that should be your answer for the future, too.

I’m always guilty of wanting to help people out. That really is my weakness. Now I’m slowly learning how to say “no” so I can give the important things in my life and work, my full attention.

Slow down. Rushing just makes you feel rushed. Try noticing a moment when all is calm. Consciously call your attention to sights, sounds, details. Notice the flowers blooming around you, and the smiles people exchange with each other. The soft breeze in the air. Take deep breaths. Savoring good moments makes them seem longer – and that can stretch the experience of time.

Put friends on your calendar. People who spend lots of time with family and friends actually feel like they have more time than people who spend equivalent quantities of time watching TV or perusing social media. A meal together takes effort, but it’s more rewarding than looking at photos on Instagram of other people’s food or them at dinner parties. At these gatherings, be fully present. It’s always tempting to look at what your other friends are doing on social media while waiting for your food to arrive. Fill these gaps with questions and wait for the answers before telling your story.

Aim to schedule in relaxed time with friends this week. You’ll look forward to it – and feel like you’re the kind of person who has the time to get together with friends. That will make you feel less busy right there.


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