Right now, time seems endless. In fact, for many of us, there is more time than we know how to use. And boy! It can become boring!
Now...there are endless YouTube videos, Instagram posts and video games to keep ourselves busy. And therein lies the problem! Rather than using our time, many of us are attempting to kill it!
We do this for three reasons.
1. Avoidance. We "kill time" while waiting at the DMV, or waiting for a flight to board. During unoccupied time, our attention tends to wander toward sensations of discomfort that we label as boredom or impatience.
If we don’t want to experience these feelings, we try to kill time.
2. Our culture of staying busy. Staying busy helps us avoid the discomfort of not doing anything. (And yes…it is discomforting to not do anything.) This discomfort can bring guilt and unease; feelings which convince us we’re lazy, unproductive, or worthless. This comes from our society’s pressure to squeeze productivity out of every waking second.
3. Too many choices. We are now bombarded with so many choices, leading to a phenomenon called choice paralysis. This was demonstrated most famously in a study in which researchers found that customers in a store were 10 times less likely to buy a jar of jam when they saw 24 choices of jam than when they saw only 6 choices.
The Primary Question:
Is this busyness getting us anywhere? In other words, after COVID-19 recedes (and yes, dear reader, someday it will!) will we be satisfied with the choices we made for how we spent our time?
I am writing today to help you say “Yes!” to that question.
So here are three cognitive strategies.
1. Treat time like money.
With this new abundance of time, we don't have a good sense of how valuable it is.
For instance, if you have $10,000 in your bank account, you're far less concerned about spending $100 on a purchase. However, if you only have $100, you are far MORE concerned about how you are spending it.
Time works the same way. The more time we think we have, the more we take it for granted and the more we waste it.
To avoid this pitfall;
• Budget your time in 24 hour intervals.
• Then write down what you want to accomplish in those 24 hours
By creating a sense of scarcity, you appreciate your time more and use it more wisely.
2. Change your relationship with time.
Treat time like something you want to protect. In other words, be mindful of how you are spending your time.
Also, practice gratitude for the time you have. This goes along with the idea of treating our time like it is a scarce resource, just like money.
I do a thought exercise by imagining I only have a year to live. I then ask myself, "How would I spend my time?"
Here's another one: Imagine you are older and are looking back on your memories of COVID-19. How do you want to reflect on the way you spent this time? What is the story you want to tell yourself that will reflect the type of person you want to be remembered as?
3. Practice Saying "Good Enough."
It is easy to get caught up in perfectionism during COVID-19.
However, being good enough is sometimes ok. In fact, spending too much time making choices is the same as spending too much money on buying a jar of jam.
Practice looking at yourself and saying "good enough."
Staying busy can be an effective way to keep the monster of "I"m not good enough" at bay for a short period of time, but this monster tends to come back out when we can't keep ourselves busy, like right before we try to fall asleep.
Instead of running from the monster, slow down, stop, turn around, and face the monster to say, "Hello there. I'm good enough. And I'm not going to be spending any more of my time on this discussion."
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.