It’s Monday morning and I’m grumping and tugging the dog down the street, speed walking through the neighborhood. I smear on my makeup with my fingers, slick on some mascara and call it good enough. I eat my breakfast standing over the sink.
Crumbs of granola rain down onto a pile of dirty dishes as I eat and check email simultaneously. I’m out the door at 8:00 am and I arrive at my meeting 15 minutes early, frazzled and unpleasant.
The dog and I meander around the block. I let her smell trees while I make small talk with my neighbors and pinch the mint growing on the boulevard. I paint on my eyebrows and eyeliner – two things that make me a) feel beautiful b) look less like a beige thumb.
I arrange my yogurt, granola, and fruit into a pleasing, pretty mound and tuck into it at the table. I duck out the door at 8:06 and arrive at my meeting looking and feeling damn near flawless.
Did you catch that, friends?
The difference between these two mornings? Six minutes. SIX MINUTES.
Have you ever done this? Convinced yourself you don’t have time to eat sitting down/return a text message/do something that makes you feel more attractive and put together?
Because those things take forevvvvvver! And we are very busy people with very limited amounts of free time!
But are we? Like, really?
Last week, I started timing myself while doing these ‘time consuming things’ I’m often ‘too busy’ to do. Would you like to guess how long it takes for me to apply the liquid eyeliner I love? 45 seconds.
How long does it take to send the thank-you email that makes me feel like a good friend? 62 seconds.
Sometimes the difference between ‘good enough’ and ‘way better’ is 62 seconds. Click To TweetAnd I’m guessing this might be true for you, too. If you’d like to find time for a slightly calmer, more intentional, ‘better’ day here are three things that can help.
3 ways to find time for ‘better’
Time how long those ‘too time-consuming, put them off till later’ things actually take
No, really. Use the stopwatch on your phone and see how long it takes you to put your food on a plate, on top of a placemat, and eat it at the table. How much longer does that take than eating it out of Tupperware, standing in front of the fridge?
How much longer does it take to put the plate in the dishwasher instead of on the counter?
How long does it take to bring your laptop onto the patio and work there, instead of working in the corner of the bedroom? (Note to self: Why are you so weird about this, Sarah? IT TAKES 30 SECONDS.)
Next time you feel like rushing through something or putting it off because you think you don’t have enough time, pull out your phone, turn on the stopwatch, and do the slightly-more-time-consuming version. You might be amazed by how little time it actually took.
Track how much time you spend online and how much you spend on your phone
But where do we find time to do these slightly-slower, life-improving things? “I’m not a wizard, Sarah! I can’t create time!” you cry.
Dude, I know. But we can rescue time we’re spending elsewhere. There are a jillion apps and plugins that will help us do this.
Install timeStats in Chrome to track how and where you spend your time online. THEY EVEN SHOW YOU A TERRIFYING PIE CHART #gratifying. If you discover you’re spending more time than you’d like on a specific site, timeStats even lets you set limits and block yourself from select sites!
If you’d like to measure how much time you spend on your phone. The Moment app works with iphones and QualityTime works with Androids.*
Now, this is not where I shame you for enjoying Netflix or Instagram. This is not where I tell you that Facebook is ruining the world. This IS where I remind both of us that life’s a lot nicer when we spend our time and energy with intention. (And I’m guessing nobody is spending three hours a day on Facebook on purpose? I mean probably not?)
Notice how taking these extra few minutes affects your life + makes you feel
When I spend 15 minutes speed walking through the neighborhood, yanking the dog along behind me, I start my day feeling rushed and grumpy. (What am I rushing towards? Back to my house, where I work for myself and set my own deadlines?)
When I spend 18 minutes taking the slightly more scenic route and giving the dog the luxury of smelling something for LITERALLY SEVEN SECONDS I start my day feeling relaxed and centered.
When I decide I’ll email my Airbnb host tomorrow, I think about it 10 times and feel vaguely nervous that I’ll forget about it. When I spend 60 seconds emailing him as soon as I think of it, I feel accomplished/productive/smugly on top of it.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. Notice how these tiny upgrades and slow downs feel. Pay attention to how they affect your life. When we notice that something makes us feel good we’re waaaaay more likely to do keep doing it.
Of course, I’m not saying every single aspect of your life needs to become the slightly longer, ‘more intentional’ version. Sometimes you really need the two minutes you saved by eating a Clif Bar for breakfast, in the car. Sometimes you just don’t feel like putting on eyeliner. That’s fine!
But I think you might be surprised to find how little time it actually takes to make your daily life feel calmer, sweeter, and ‘better.’
I want to hear from you! Do you do this – convince yourself you don’t have time to do life-improving things that actually take two minutes? What are the slightly-slower things you do that improve your life?
*Shout out to Donna, one of the members of our Money & Happy Facebook group for telling me about this app! Come join us if you’d like more money or happiness in your life! (Uh, who doesn’t?)