August 3, 2012

Not Enough Time

Today Linda and I sat on the floor in a sunbeam and had a picnic. Afterwards we stretched out and lounged, listening to music. The sun was warm, a light breeze carried beach smells in the window, and I just about drifted off.

One of the bonuses of a small-footprint, simple life is having enough time to do things that make you truly happy. Like having naps.

A common complaint of citizens in industrialized nations is that there is not enough time to do the things they want to do. There is even an acronym for it: NETTEL, which stands for Not Enough Time To Enjoy Life. Modern families are so busy earning money that they no longer have the time to enjoy its benefits.

While H.D. Thoreau enjoyed his calm passage of time in the green woods, he wondered at what it was that everyone was so preoccupied. He observed that ants were busy too, and saw much of human busyness as “restless, nervous, bustling, trivial activity.”

You don't have to remove yourself entirely from the bustle of town life  (although it does help) to liberate yourself from prevailing attitudes about how you should be spending your time. All you have to do is step off the wheel, and slow down. If you want to get really radical, try stopping for a while.

It is socially acceptable, encouraged even, to be busy. Busy people are 'industrious', 'productive', and 'ambitious'. Even if it gives them a heart attack.

Some sick individuals actually get an adrenalin rush from being perpetually time challenged, and feel superior because they can 'handle it' when mere mortals would crumble. Super moms fall into this category.

What about individuals with a more realistic and relaxed pace? Those we call 'slackers', 'hippies', 'lazy', and worse. Being idle is practically a sin.

The system loves busy people. Busy people multi-task, don't worry about work/life balance, carry day timers to increase their productivity, and purchase advanced communication devices so they are available for work 100% of the time. Busy people don't notice, until it is too late, that their jobs have been outsourced, and their pensions eliminated.

Never mind being consumed by work-related activities. When it comes to leisure time, as Calvin and Hobbes said, "There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."

No wonder today's worker feels like there is not enough time to enjoy the back yard, or play with the kids. Or cook, read a book, sleep in the grass under a tree, clean the garage, nap, play a board game, or learn a new language or musical instrument. If there is no time for the things you most want to do, with what are you so busy that is more important?

Linda and I have learned to guard our time. It is a precious resource, and we cherish it. We would rather be time rich and money poor than the other way around.

When I took a sabbatical from teaching, my time out extended to include 2 years. It was life changing, and I highly recommend everyone take one, whether a 5 minute mini-sabbatical, or one stretching out over years.

You will have enough time, and you will never be the same again.

Tips For Creating More You Time In Your Life

  1. Simplify by saying "NO". Cutting down on the number of things you do in a day allows you the time to honour your priorities. 
  2. Cut back on work. If you spend less, you can work less. Try part time, casual, or contract work. By living simply and saving money, you could retire earlier.
  3. Control your thoughts. Watch how you think about your time because our thoughts create our reality. Thinking "I have enough time to do what I need to do" fosters calmness, and sense of control.
  4. Be present in the moment. When we get lost in the moment time seems to stretch out.
  5. Take a time out. Chronic busyness can become perversely addictive, in which case it is time for a workaholic detox. Stop occasionally for recovery and recuperation. Start small with a few minutes at a time. Work toward an hour long break, then longer. Take a year. Or more. It can be done if you live simply.


  1. Anonymous8/04/2012

    Very nice article! I so agree with everything you wrote. I want to get out of debt asap so I can feel free.
    I always take a Saturday nap. The family teases me about it but I no longer let them make me feel guilty about it. I love my naps.
    I particularly love #4. Be present in the moment! AAhhhhhh.... I live in Colorado and can stare at the mountains and beautful scenary all day. My hope for people is to live where they love.

    1. You are so right to guard your nap time, and not let it make you feel guilty. In some countries a siesta is an integral part of life that endures to this day.

      Colorado sounds nice - I used to live in Alberta just an hours drive from the Rocky Mountains. We could see the front ranges from town.

      Now we live on the west coast in a waterfront rental unit situated on a river estuary.

      There is always lots of wildlife to see, like 5 Great blue herons fishing, or a family of river otters (including 3 tiny babies), or we have even watched a mama black bear on her back with her cub on top of her playing. All from our living room window.

      I do miss the mountains, though. It is easy to be present in nature, where ever you are.

      Good luck with the debt - keep at it, and happy napping!

  2. Anonymous8/05/2012

    I love your blog and agree to most of your words.

    After years in high profile jobs, with meetings, overtime, pressure, etc. I simply quit. Now I work only 5 hours/day. I love my new job, but I love to leave work at 12 or 1 pm and have the afternoon free for all the things I want to do - or simply lay in the garden and enjoy life :-) And the money is sufficient. I can't buy everything I want, which is a very good thing.

    1. Congratulations on breaking free! It sounds to me like you are in control of your life. Being idle at times is crucial for our mental well-being, and the garden is a great place to relax and recuperate.

  3. Anonymous8/05/2012

    I cannot tell you how many times folks have said in a tone of resentment..." Oh you are sooo lucky to have time for reading,walks and gardening. " As if I was given something they were not! I just figured it out. Thank you for your blog.

    1. You have just hit on one of my pet peeves, because I have heard this before myself. It has nothing to do with luck - it is there for all to enjoy. All you have to do is what you did - figure it out. Way to go!

      Thanks for visiting and participating.


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