Have you ever felt like you don’t have enough time to complete that task you’ve been delaying for hours or days? Have you ever felt like you can’t help around the house because you don’t think you can make the time if you can’t even get your work done? Have you ever felt like you’re not getting enough time to do what you want to do because there are distractions, such as schoolwork, that keep getting in the way?
What is time scarcity?
Most are unaware of the term time scarcity. I stumbled upon it when I searched Google, “I feel like I never have time to do anything.” During quarantine, there were many times where I felt this, and I know a lot of people who felt the same way. What I found was relatable and accurately described my situation. I said to myself, “Oh, there’s a word for this? Damn.”
Time scarcity is when you feel like you are working against time. It is the feeling that you are racing against a clock that somehow ticks faster every day. You may think this feeling is motivating you when, in fact, it may be sabotaging your progress. It is a constant battle that you will never win if you keep thinking like this.
What the problem is
Feeling a shortage of time during the day is a relatively minor problem, but when you think like this for an extended period, that’s when the real trouble begins.
Way too many of us suffer from a “time-scarcity” mindset. If you don’t, then kudos to you! Many are unaware of this, so I’d like to bring this phenomenon to the attention of others.
This very mindset leads many to approach their lives feeling as if a time bomb will go off. It can cause many feelings of distress, overwhelmingness, and panic. Being busy has almost become FASHIONABLE. Thinking, saying, and acting as if you don’t have enough time for things often shows a lack of control over how you spend your time, BUT YOU DO! You’re just not taking responsibility for it.
How do I solve this?
You need a reality check.
Become truly aware of this problem existing in your life. Self-awareness is key.
There are 24 hours in a day. If you sleep 8 and work 8, you still get 8 for yourself. That’s 40 hours plus another 16 on the weekends. 56 hours a week, that is all yours. That is indeed a lot of time. Everyone has an abundance of time – whether you take control of it or not is up to you.
Decide how to spend your free time appropriately.
To get the most out of our free time, it’s best to spend it with our friends and family to make a difference in our mindset. By maximizing our free time, it can build on our sense of having an abundance of time.
Spend your time helping others! While I was reading, I came across this, which resonates with me: “Because so many of us are stuck in the time-scarcity mindset, we tend to hoard our time, grasping for every precious minute. It’s hard to feel okay about spending time on others when you already feel like you don’t have enough time to get everything done.” Research has found that spending our time helping others can lessen our feelings surrounding time scarcity. Having done valuable things with our time will help us feel we have more time to spare. Please go on, try it out for yourself! I promise you’ll feel much better.
Watch your language.
No, I don’t mean foul or vulgar language. What I mean is, stop saying, “I don’t have time.” The more we tell people we don’t have time, the more we believe it ourselves and proceed to act as if we don’t have time. The truth is, we have time—a lot of it. We have to learn how to use and gain control over it. Remind yourself that you are not going against time. You have to work with it. A simple way to replace this sentence in our vocabulary is by saying, “This is not my priority” or a simple “no.” Using these phrases brings back the responsibility to you and helps you use your time under your control.
For those attending online classes: Be aware of how you are using your time.
Make sure you manage your time so that you aren’t hooked up to screens 24/7. Your leisure time must be spent away from screens—otherwise, there is no distinction between work and play. It’s the same thing when you are told not to do your math work in bed. The purpose of a bed is to get some rest and sleep on it, not study.
It is all about your environment. Spending your free time online creates the illusion that we don’t have free time because we’re spending it on things we need to do, or should do. When I realized this problem during quarantine, I started using the Pomodoro technique. I’m sure most students know how this works, but in case you don’t, it’s essentially a way to maintain your focus during work. I set my Pomodoro timer for around 25 minutes, and when time’s up, I know that it’s time to take a break. I spend these 5-10 minutes getting water or a snack or taking a short walk around my house to maintain my energy levels.
Ensure you are not using your break time going on social media or reading your emails as this can produce unnecessary feelings of stress and may cause you to work on another task. Then, It’s quite likely that you will get into that loop of feeling like there’s not enough time for the things you want to do, all over again.
When we are immersed in this bubble of spending our break time online, we feel the need to compete. Consequently, we become stressed over our lack of time.
Final words 🙂
A lot of people struggle with this, so you don’t need to feel alone! The first step to combatting this problem is becoming aware of it, which I just helped you overcome 🙂 After the first step, it becomes more comfortable as you come to terms with it and manage it appropriately.
As J. R. R. Tolkien says, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
More resources if you’re interested in reading more about this!