How to Gain Control of Your Free Time – Laura Vanderkam.
Time is one of the most incomprehensible things that humanity has to count. Most people think that they are too busy to find free time to do anything. They search on the internet and find articles that are as doable as a grain of wheat in a packet of rice. Laura Vanderkam is one of the better writers writing about time management. Here are some facts that she has shared:
Time can't be saved, it's a constant, you can only make the most of it.
How much we put in and get out of time, determines how much we make of it.
Time is fixed but how you spend it is highly elastic.
Some important facts to know about
What the common mind thinks
Laura shares that through her vast experience, she has been contacted by magazines and article websites to proofread time management-related articles. Laura shares that she “question(s) the entire premise of this piece”. Most of these time management tricks that these magazines share are things that anyone can think of off the top of their heads like “we’ll shave bits of time off everyday activities” and then “add it up”.
Laura goes on to explain with a pretty simple example of how ridiculous these tricks are. She shares that the articles write to record your shows so you can watch them later while skipping through the commercials. She shares that the articles claim you should be able to find 32 minutes to do other stuff if you recorded 2 hours of TV content. Laura slanders this by sharing that you can save 2 hours by not watching TV at all.
Laura, like many other people, knows successful people and hears them being called as someone who “have it all”. She has had the opportunities to look through these people’s life schedules and has found pretty intriguing tips to share.
She shares that successful people don’t follow the same tips and tricks that the common mind thinks are good for saving time. She goes on to claim that ‘We are not here to build the lives by saving, we build the lives we want, and then time saves itself”.
We don’t save time
Her words are pretty thought-provoking and when you think about it, it is kind of true. Life is strange. Through numerous experiences, we eventually learn that whenever we try to control something, it always spirals out of control.
Life is not something that can be lived by constraining ourselves. The theory is that even if we save time to do something that can save us in the future, it won’t happen just because we are saving our time. We are essentially reducing the time we spend on our everyday lifestyle, making it difficult to maintain quality of life.
We build the lives we want, and then time saves itself
If we want to become successful people, we find the time to do everything we want, and still not be felt constrained by the limits of time. Laura explains this with the help of a very simple example of a woman who has a flooding apartment and has to spend 7 hours a week to get her apartment fixed. She says that even though the woman is busy, she can “find seven hours because there is water all over her basement”.
Time is fixed but how you spend it is highly elastic
The concept of time is highly elastic. You cannot make more time or reduce it, but you can always stretch how you spend your time. Think of it like rubber. Two same pieces of gum can be stretched to accommodate entire hands and can also fit in one’s palm.
Through an interview with a successful person, Laura shares that “every minute I spend, is my choice”. Though this might seem like a scene out of a movie, this builds up to the belief that we can build the lives we want and then time saves itself.
Prioritize what you want and what you need.
Give yourself an early annual performance review.
Write yourself a personal letter of appraisal.
How to gain control of your free time?
From Laura’s brief message, we have compiled a list of few things that can help you understand how to gain control of your free time:
Prioritize what you want and what you need
The first thing we should do is find the time to prioritize our needs over what we are doing right now. Going through the same example of the flooding apartment, people can find time for some things because they take priority over the other things. As long as we know how to prioritize what we want, we can easily gain control of our free time.
Give yourself an early annual performance review
In profession, many businesses give annual performance reviews to their employees so they can find accurate information on ‘opportunities for growth’ and the milestones they have achieved. Write yourself an early annual performance review with “three to five things did you do that made it so amazing”.
Write yourself a personal family holiday letter
Many families find the time to write a family holiday letter where they write about “how amazing everyone in the household is” or “how busy everyone in the household is”. Laura shares that you should write yourself a letter and add six to ten goals that you want to work on the next year. Break your goals into doable steps. Here is exactly how Laura suggests one should write the letter:
- Read up on other family histories to know how to write one.
- Think about the questions you want to ask your relatives or what you wish to do yourself.
- Figure out a training plan and prioritize them just like how you would prioritize fixing an apartment: “into our schedules first”.
Make yourself a “three-category priority list”
Laura shares that one should write themselves a “three-category priority list” that is more about career, relationships and self. We think about our career a lot, but we don’t put as much time into relationships and personal growth.
Take out some time out of a warm, cozy Friday to write yourself a list and then “look out over the whole of the next week” to “plan them in”. You prioritize your work over other things. For example, if you work 60 hours a week, you still have 52 hours to do other things, excluding sleep. You can always find 2 to 3 hours a week to do something that you want to improve in.
Finding time to do something is all about perspective.
As a finisher, Laura shares with us that we all should try to implement digital minimalism and try to focus on ourselves more. She shares that we should use the little bit of time we get every day for bits of fun, not for endless scrolling. She shares that finding time to do something is all about perspective, and anyone can find time to do anything, no matter how packed their schedules are.