How can I find extra time in my day?

In a world where access to new information and ideas is so easy, where thousands of options are within reach, many of us feel that our limited time is stopping us from reaching our full potential. If only we could have 48 hours in a day, to be able to both house all our projects and spend leisure time with people we love!

Long work hours, long commutes, time wasted stressing out… where is the time to live properly? Everything seems rushed, with constant emails asking for tasks to be done ASAP (don’t forget the capital letters!). If we are renting a home - decide NOW or lose your place! In this system, we are constantly intimated to act NOW, to do things before it is too late. There is no afterlife, there is no eternal youth! Do things NOW, enjoy the moment NOW, work hard NOW! It is exhausting.

How can we find the space to breath in, breath out, be playful, experiment, know ourselves better? Summing up, who has the time to cultivate an artistic mind? Fortunately, there are a few little tricks that can be used to relieve time anxiety:

1 - Write down what needs to be done.

I always feel stressed when I have to remember several things at once, and more often than not one of them is forgotten. When I write down everything that needs to be done, I can free my mind.

2 - Take your time.

In a world that screams GO GO GO, mistakes are bound to be made. Take your time doing what is important - reviewing what has been done, stopping for a minute before sending an email, sleeping over big decisions.
It also helps to assume a general attitude of calm - wake up earlier so the mornings aren’t rushed, allow for plenty of time to travel, stop along the day to breath in and out, do things in a deliberate, concentrated manner.
I struggle the most with the general attitude of calm. My autopilot is in rushing mode, but I know that when I manage to take my time I am happier and the day runs smoothly.

After all, part of having an artistic mind is to notice the world and the small things around us. Rushing means assuming we know how the world works,  no time is left to stop and find out what the reality is like. Plus, for some people, it is in the quietness that inspiration comes.

The suggestions above deal with time anxiety, but they don’t actually give us more time. The big question is: how to get that extra time that you need to pursuit your artistic goals? I suggest one strategy below, please let me know other ones that work for you.

1 -  For one or two days, monitor your activities.

What do you do when you have a couple of minutes to spare? During your lunchtime? Before bed? Make a list or a graph of the activities that take up most of your time.

1 - Analyse the results.

Is your free time spent in activities that give you pleasure? Or do those activities make you feel guilty and frustrated for indulging in them?

Could you use part of those free minutes to do something else?

As an example, some people spend a long time on social media, scrolling mindlessly through their friends holiday photos. After half an hour of this they find their life dull by comparison, and feel guilty for spending half an hour doing nothing productive.

2 - Think what you can change.

Minimise time spent in activities that don’t serve a purpose. Remember that if something makes you happy and relaxed, that is also a purpose in itself. Ask yourself how to use your time better. Do you spend your hour commute page-turning free newspapers? Would you prefer to be listening to an audio book instead?

3 - Be clear about your goals.

Think about what you wish from life. Do you want to improve your drawing skills? To create some music? To learn about world history?

4 - Replace the useless activities with ones that give you joy. 

What does your fantasy self do? For example, if you aim to write, set aside some time every day to do it. It may be just writing a few lines on your train home.

Finally, remember the most important thing: your free time is the best luxury you can have. Remember to use it in a way that gives you pleasure. Even if you feel guilty because you are not working, or tidying up the house, or whatever you feel you should be doing, bear in mind that no one can be focused 24/7, and you will always need relaxing times.

Using your down time to do things you love is a huge step in developing your artistic mind. If you take extreme pleasure, say, in fantasy books and films. all time you devote to do this might  inspire you to create your own fantasy universe. If you enjoy nice clothes and spend hours browsing the internet for the latest tendencies, this might also be a way to unleash your creativity - and it doesn't mean you have to be a fashion designer, many people find a very satisfactory creative escape just by choosing their own outfits and finding a particular style of their own.

I hope these suggestions are useful and help you find some extra delightful minutes in your day!