How Busy People Find More Time and Space


Do you want to enjoy the moment? Wish you were less distracted and hurried? I do!

There is a lot of talk about being mindful and more present, but how do you really do this? I have been putting off tracking how I spend my time. I want to know, but that usually means I will need to change.

Am I really ready to face those time bandits? I took off my blinders, and you can too. With the help of Katie Tallo‘s Life Cleanse Starter Kit, I began a week of focusing, de-cluttering, and creating.

First, let me introduce Katie, she writes for Momentum Gathering. I am drawn to Katie’s blog for inspiration and rest. The blogosphere and web is filled with to do lists, and I already have enough to do!

So, instead of admiring Katie for the changes she’s made, I decide to accept her invitation and start my own “life cleanse.” When I first open her e-book, I react with urgency, and wonder if I can cram all 7 days into one!

Cramming time sums up my old perspective on managing my time. My perspective is beginning to shift, and I find it reassuring to know that I can make changes at a gentle pace. Do you want to get your time back?

Here are some steps to making more of your time your own:

Track How You Spend Your Time

In day 1 of Katie’s Life Cleanse, she provides a record for tracking your time for 16 hours. After tracking my time, I am surprised by my focus and relaxation. Although I spend most of my day caring for kids and cleaning up, I am less hurried. Tracking my time makes me more aware of the little decisions I make all day long. Instead of cramming things in or getting distracted, I make conscious choices regarding how to spend my time. I even gladly erase some things from my to do list.

I am surprised by the opportunities and choices I have. Katie talks about finding pockets of time, and I have them! For me, they can be small 5 minute pockets or longer stretches of time. On my tracking day, I am more balanced, and enjoying kisses, snuggles, and activities as well as reading, writing, emailing, and movies. It is a full day, including caring, cleaning, alone time, and togetherness time. I couldn’t help but wonder how I was ever going to keep this up, especially on a work day!

Identify Your Time Stealers

Before I share how I keep this relaxed yet focused pace going on most days, let me stop to recognize those time stealing bandits. For me, I found there are two main time stealers: 1) my preoccupation with productivity and 2) mindless computer usage.

I think of time as a commodity. I want every minute to count, and I hate wasting time. I try to cram in more than is realistic, even for superwoman. I worry about running out of time, so I have several things going at once. This leads to mental clutter. I don’t want to think about time in this way. I don’t want my life to be a sprint. I want it to be more of a stroll with active peaks.

I think I am naturally driven to stay at peak performance, yet I have a hunch there is another time stealer in my life. For me, it is mindless computer usage. My laptop sits in the kitchen, and I walk by it, compelled to open it. I let it take me hostage. One click leads to another, and I lose track of time. When my kids ask me repeatedly to get off the computer, I start to question what I am doing. The more time I spend on the computer, the more rushed I am in my life. Being on the computer is not where I find relaxation (other than Katie’s blog), it is where I find more to do!

A light bulb goes off, and I decide I can make choices with the computer, just like I do my time. I am using the computer when I have a goal to accomplish, not when I am bored or procrastinating. In addition, I ask myself the following questions to help me be more mindful and purposeful in my computer usage:

  • Is this what I want to be doing right now?
  • How long do I want/can I be in front of the computer?
  • What do I want to accomplish?

Can you think of a way you can arrest your time bandits in their tracks? Show them who is in charge of your time!

Create Your Own Space

I am more in charge of my time these days. And, I am no longer writing down how I spend my time. To be more focused yet more relaxed is a big motivator for me to sustain these small changes in my day. In addition to being more mindful of my time and time bandits, I have created my own quiet spaces at home and in my office.

In both places, it is a corner or a cubby hole, nothing elaborate, because that’s not me. By creating this space, it is a visual reminder to slow down. I hear Katie asking me, Do You Have Your Own Chair? While I don’t have my own chair, I have equipped my corner with all of the things I enjoy: a journal, inspirational and recreational books, index cards, highlighter, lamp, blanket, music player, and tea. I needed to clear out space to make my own. I gravitate to this place, even if it is only for 15 minutes.

It’s your turn. What are your time stealers? Share how you create pockets of time for yourself.

If you enjoyed reading this, follow Marci’s blog by subscribing via RSS or by Email to get updates. And, if you are ready to start your life cleanse, check out Katie’s 7-Week Life Cleanse E-book:

Photo Credit: John Morgan
Editor’s Note: Article Title Updated December 10, 2010 (from “How I Got My Time Back”)

8 responses to “How Busy People Find More Time and Space

  1. Marci, thank you so much for diving into the cleanse and for taking the “time” to write about it. Despite having written about it and practiced it, I’m still finding I need to pull my awareness to those time suckers and focus on what’s most important. I could spend all day following tweets to links to great advice, but as you say, it just gives me more to do. I’m thrilled that you got so much out of the cleanse and my blog, and I’m even more thrilled that you are choosing to share with your readers your insights and wisdom. Lovely!

  2. You are very welcome Katie! In addition to wanting to cram all 7 days into 1; I also thought about doing all my de-cluttering tasks in 1 day! This told me a lot about myself.

    And, yes, I do find myself slipping into my time suckers too. I’m just more aware of it, and it’s consequences on me. Overall, it’s been very freeing to have a choice, even if I do slip back into the enticing web surfing. It’s as if, the computer is calling me, enticing me, learn more, you are missing out. Now, I know I csn “talk” back!

  3. Marci, thank you so much for making me aware of Katie’s book. I just signed up to get it, and I can’t wait to read it.

    I can certainly relate to your struggles. I too find myself aimlessly surfing the Internet. In fact, I would say that it is my number 1 time waster. I think that the three questions you now ask yourself could really help me too. Setting boundaries and defining the specific task is a great way to get on the Internet and get off.


    • Thanks so much Fred. Let me know how you like the book. All the best in finding the time you need and setting those boundaries.

  4. Fred: Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m enjoying yours too! Enjoy the book and the tips. Here’s to more focused and relaxed time on our plates 😉

  5. And I enjoyed reading about how you plunged right into the cleanse, Marci. That’s such an effective way to endorse Katie’s work. She’s a star, isn’t she?

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  7. Hi Katie,
    I sure needed a post like this! It’s great! I’ve seen Katie’s name on the A Lister’s forum. I’ll have to check out her blog, too! Nice to “meet” you!!