What I Now Understand About Time (Plus 5 Ways To Do More)

I was once known for being productive.

Actually, I suppose I have always been somewhat known as being productive, the over-achiever, so to speak.

Back in high school, on top of studying for my GCSEs, I also spent my time playing chess (half an hour before school, an hour after school, daily), being very active in online roleplaying, designing online pages and graphics, writing soooo many stories and novels, plus reading at such a fast rate that my librarian can’t keep up with adding more titles to my list of ‘Books to Read’.

Then in university, I was The Smart One who would take notes and study, pulling the extra effort with almost every assignment. I was still writing a lot of fiction, I was playing games quite a bit and spent a good chunk of my time watching movies, anime and drama. But I was also active with extra-curricular activities, both inside and outside of university.

Now, or rather, a month from now, when I have to go back to work and start taking proofreading jobs again, I can only imagine how busy I’d be.

To be honest, though, while it may seem like I was this overly-productive person, I actually was a guilty procrastinator, probably just like you. I liked to sleep in. I had missed deadlines. I have too many unread books. Goodness, too often I had left the laundry unfolded until my husband and I had to hunt for our clothes in the pile. (In my defense, pregnancy, especially the third trimester, gave me a kind of fatigue that I never experienced in my life – not even when I was in ROTU Navy for a semester).

And then… I was gifted with a newborn. And with it, came the lesson of what it really means to “not have time”.

Fahim’s naps could be as short as 10 minutes, or as long as 2 to 3 hours. The thing is that I never know, when he closes his eyes, whether he’d be sleeping for 10 minutes or 60 minutes. So each time he sleeps, I need to make a lightning-fast decision.

What do I do first? Do I shower? Pump milk? Clean the room? Do the laundry? Eat?

I have had days where when he goes down for a nap, I rushed to eat lunch, and as soon as I took my last bite, the little guy wakes up and starts to cry, so my next two hours was to, again, feed him, change him, put him back to sleep. -.-” And repeat.

But actually, having Fahim taught me the real meaning of time.

I’m sure we’ve all said it before. When an idea was brought up to start a new hobby, or to exercise, or to take a vacation, or to pack our own healthy breakfasts and lunches, we’d always say, “I don’t have time for that”. We make excuses, somehow visualising our lives to be so busy that we can’t squeeze in anything else.

More often than not, this is a lie that we tell ourselves. The truth is, 99% of the time, it’s not a case of not having time. It’s a case of not having the motivation to do it.

Be brutally honest. It’s true, isn’t it?

I now know, for example, how precious ten minutes is. Heck, I know how precious five minutes is. There’s so much you can do in ten minutes. You can take a shower. Prepare a snack. Do a speed clean. Work out. Fold laundry. (In my OCD-ness, I used to take forever to fold laundry. Now I’m learning to speed up haha).

If anything, having a newborn taught me that I do have time. I have lots of time. What I didn’t have back then was the motivation. Typically, our lives are never as ‘busy’ as we make it out to be.

Some things I’ve started to do to increase time and productivity, which I believe can help if you’re looking to get an extra hour or two in your life:

1. Prioritize. Know which task needs to be tackled first, and do it. Just don’t even think of holding things off. Just do it.

2. Have a to-do list, and put more things on the list than what you think you can achieve. Because if you don’t achieve everything on the list, you’ve at least achieved some things. But if you happen to be super productive and efficient with your time and managed to achieve everything, well… That’s a day well spent.

3. Hone your skills. There simply are things that you can do faster. Do your makeup faster. Get ready faster. Fold clothes faster. Make a simpler, healthier breakfast that you can have on the go. Whatever it is, there are things you can learn to do faster. Learn how to do it, then do it. Especially with everyday routine stuff.

4. Sleep better. I don’t get my eight hours of sleep anymore. But to be honest, I’ve learned that I don’t actually need eight hours to function. I sleep earlier now, and even though I get shorter hours (sometimes four hours, if not less), I can still function the next day. Work on habits to sleep better so you are more rested.

5. Reward yourself after you complete a task. I have to say, I cheated on myself a lot. I’d buy these nice chocolates and tell myself I’d have them after I complete this one task. Yet, even before I completed the task, I ate the chocolates because I knew I’d complete the task anyway. 😅 Be disciplined. Know how to reward yourself, and make the reward worthwhile.

One of my goals in life is to be a supermom. I’ve always loved reading articles about supermoms, and I’d like to strive to become one. I firmly believe that it’s the quality time we spend with people that matters most, over the quantity of time spent. And I believe that what makes a supermom is her ability to be productive, so here’s to a productive 2018 to come!

Maibreakstheice is a blog where I like to tackle life questions through my personal experiences and, where applicable, through my knowledge as a graduate in family counselling. Keep your eye out for updates every Tuesday, or subscribe via email to receive updates straight to your mailbox!

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