The Illusion of Free Time
I was sitting at Tmuffin when I finished my tasks for the day. There were no emails to answer, there were no messages to get back to. Of course there were plenty of other less essential things on my to-do list, but I felt done for the day.
Meanwhile, my 4 year old and his friend were playing happily.
Oh em gee. I had some FREE TIME. What even is that?
On a typical day, if I have free time, I can finally attend to my child, who often spends his days pulling on my legs, begging me to play with him. I can go wipe his butt when he poops. I can make myself something to eat. I can take time for myself.
But this day, I had eaten lunch. My kid had already pooped. And—I repeat—he was playing happily. What to do?
Instead of feeling relief that I was on top of my shit and got the important things done for the day, I felt irritable and antsy. I couldn’t exactly ditch the place and head to the beach. I wasn’t completely free. I still had two kids to watch and a couple of businesses to run. I still had the list running through my head of the things I should be doing with ample time so as not to be stuck in the procrastinator’s rush later.
Then it hit me: Free time? It’s just an illusion. By that, I don’t mean that there’s no such thing as free time, but it is completely available—or unavailable—depending on how you perceive it.
Check this out:
- In elementary school, during summer vacations, I would schedule out my day and pretend I was at camp. I would even do math workbooks in my free time.
- In college, I had so much free time, yet I was constantly stressed about papers I had to write in one night or tests I waited until 6 hours before to begin studying for.
- In my 20s, I was always painting. I often had 2 paintings going on at once, so I felt like there was always something to do. (Granted, I had a regular old 9-5 job, no additional job stress, and no kids).
- In the years my husband and I had together before we had kids, I often complained that I didn’t have time to do grocery shopping or run errands. I worked full time, and then I wanted to enjoy myself on the weekends, so I felt cramped for time.
Fast forward to now. My life consists of two kids, two businesses (I work at least 60 hours a week), a pretty decent exercise habit, and a focus on my creative outlets.
You know what? I don’t feel like I have any more or any less free time than I used to. I mean, I complain about it all the time. How I don’t have any. But I’ve always done that.
I realize that I’ve always created an illusion of “needing to be productive.” It doesn’t mean I’m more productive than the average Jane, though. It just means I have trouble letting go and really enjoying my free time.
Holy shit. I’ve been complaining this whole time about a problem I don’t have!
In the past few years, I’ve actually found some concrete ways to carve out more time for myself, including:
- Doing something I love every day
- Finding quick ways to reconnect with myself
- Waking up before my kids
I’ve even specifically worked on changing my mindset and my excuses I tell myself when it comes to time. But I still haven’t worked on the “I need to be productive” excuse. So I’m going to work on that.
I actually have a pretty sweet online program that I’m about to launch that gives you an exact formula for finding more time for yourself AND helps you work through excuses like this. Does actually being able to sit down and relax sound nice to you? Do you forget what that feels like? Imagine what you could achieve with more time in your day. Interested? Sign up below and we’ll let you know when the program launches.
Share this with someone who needs more time in her life!