How To Be Time Affluent + Find More Free Time

Conscious Consumerism, Lifestyle, Minimalism

Being ‘time affluent’, as coined by psychologists Tim Kasser & Kennon Sheldon, is exactly what it sounds like: being rich and abundant in time. Something we all want to be.

When I used the power of negative thinking to figure out exactly what I wanted in life, I also wrote down something else. A value of mine that I wanted to guide me in all my future life decisions: Time is worth more than money. To me, time as an investment is invaluable and irreplaceable. Think about it: today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again. Money is replaceable, but what about time? Energy? Youth?

Here are some excerpts from books I’ve personally read and found interesting.

The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

Absolute income is measured using one holy and inalterable variable: the raw and almighty dollar. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year and is thus twice as rich as John Doe, who makes $50,000 a year.

Relative income uses two variables: the dollar and time, usually hours. The whole “per year” concept is arbitrary and makes it easy to trick yourself. Let’s look at the real trade. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year, $2000 for each of the 50 weeks of the year, and works 80 hours a week. Jane Doe thus makes $25 per hour. John Doe makes $50,000 per year, $1000 for each of 50 weeks per year, but works 10 hours per week and hence makes $100 per hour. In relative income, John is four times richer.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Our culture is obsessed with time. It is our personal deficit crisis. We always think we’re saving time, and yet we feel like we never have enough of it. (…) Like airlines, we routinely overbook ourselves, fearful of any unused capacity, confident we can fit everything in. We fear that if we don’t cram as much as possible into our day, we might miss out on being fabulous, important, special, or career advancing. But there are no rollover minutes in life. We don’t get to keep all that time we “save”. It’s actually a very costly way to live.

Now you may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but how can I actually find more free time?”

It may surprise you that you already have more time than you think. Day by day, we feel so time poor, but too often we fail to see the bigger picture – probably because we don’t spend our time mindfully. I’d like to share some time budgeting methods that changed my life.

A simple method from 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam motivated me to start with a blank slate; to take a step back and look at exactly just how time affluent I already am.

First, we start with 168 hourly slots in a week. Of those, I spend

19.5 hours working (7, 6.5 and 6 hours)
3 hours getting ready for work (1 hour x 3 days)
1.5 hours walking to/from work (15 mins twice x 3 days)
56 hours sleeping (8 hours x 7 days)
2.25 hours showering (approx. 20 mins x 7 days)
3 hours volunteering
0.5 hours driving to/from volunteer work (15 mins each way)

3 hours working out (I run + attend BODYPUMP class 3 times a week)

That leaves me with 79.25 hours per week.

“Well duh,” you say. “You work part-time.”

Even working full-time last year, it would’ve looked like this:

37.5 hours working (7.5 hours x 5 days)
5 hours getting ready for work (1 hour x 5 days)
2.5 hours walking to/from work (15 mins twice x 5 days)
56 hours sleeping
2.25 hours showering
3 hours working out

I would’ve still had a whopping 61.75 hours per week!

Work out your own 168 hours. Rejoice at how much free time you had that you didn’t even realise.

Are you pleasantly surprised yet? Congrats! That new language you’ve always wanted to learn, that dance class you’ve always wanted to take, that gym session you always want to fit in, that book you’ve always wanted to read – or write! – you have time for it!

Not time affluent? If you are short on time, I also love the Must-Do List – thanks to Sarah Knight of Get Your Sh*t Together. 

It works like this: after writing your to do list, prioritise and pick out what needs to be done today. Wipe the rest out and move to tomorrow. Repeat.

For example, my to-do list could look like this:

Write blog

Read book

Pick up candle supplies

Order present 

Buy groceries

And my must-do list would then look like this:

Pick up candle supplies

Buy groceries

See? It’s easy.

Now, how to get the most out of that time.

Be mindful by single tasking. If we have so much free time, where does it all go? We lose it because we spend it mindlessly. 20 minutes of scrolling through social media, 15 minutes of indecisive procrastination, and we lose parts of our day without even realising. Single tasking boosts productivity, increases mindfulness, improves cognitive performance & accuracy, and makes you happier – because by being mindful, you can find deeper focus, feeling more engaged in your work (whether that be paid work or your own work of creativity/art). You’ll free yourself to be fully present and in the moment, increasing feelings of awe, wonder and appreciation.

Meditate. I use the meditation apps Calm and Stop, Breathe & Think, and both are absolutely brilliant. With Calm, the Body Scan was my favourite to de-stress, but I found something surprising: it always made time slow down. Case in point: when I truly, deeply focus on even the 5 minute Body Scan meditation, 5 minutes expands to feel like 20 minutes. I open my eyes and come back to reality feeling like I’ve just taken a long, deep nap and gotten plenty of rest. Incredible to say the least.

Live in alignment. Have you ever stopped to assess if you are living aligned with your values? Nobody says, “I live for money. I live to please my boss/family/friends/anyone but myself. I live to chase goals that aren’t truly sustainable or important.” But so many of us live that way. Busy is not synonymous with productive, or beneficial, or valuable, or meaningful, or purposeful. That’s why I keep my time balanced, and do things I value, like volunteering – even though it’s 3 hours out of my day every week, I still always feel like I have all the time in the world, because it fills me with more energy, happiness and sense of purpose.

So, think about everything you did today, or this week. Now, think about which of those things were genuinely worthwhile. Is there a discrepancy? There you have it!

I hope this has inspired you to appreciate each and every single moment, and to make time for what matters.

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