Anyone else always feel like they never have enough time?
From consistently having to turn family and friends down for hangouts to not touching projects for months, I knew I had a time problem.
While I’m all about saving money and building wealth, I never really focused on my time. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I haven’t had enough hours in the day to do what I actually want.
This didn’t make sense to me because I’m very productive. I have a standard 40 hour job, no kids and some pretty low commitment side projects.
So, why did I feel so time poor?
Figuring out where my time actually goes
To start this off, I noted down for a week where my time was going. Even if I hung out on the couch for 20 minutes, I added that to the relaxation category. I included everything – from commuting, housework etc. To be honest, I was expecting to see that I was wasting a lot of time – watching TikToks, browsing social media, online shopping etc. However, I was shocked to learn that this was not the case at all.
In fact, I spent most of my time on a category that I never expected.
It’s no surprise that the largest “time” category was sleeping at 35% followed by work at 30%. I included my full-time job, side business and blog in this category as it was all “productive”. These main categories I couldn’t really cut down so the remaining third was the most important.
The third-largest category was the real surprise. I spend 12% of my time on what I call “life admin” or chores. This category includes cooking, cleaning, laundry, buying groceries, visiting the post office etc. I spend 20 hours a week doing this.
Before plotting it out like this, I really had no idea it was that much time. No wonder I feel so time poor, that’s just under 3 hours a day. A big part of this is cooking – I cook nearly all my meals from scratch, daily. I’ve tried meal prepping but it isn’t for me – I enjoy fresh food. I thought this was great considering I save so much money but I didn’t even think of the time. I understand that cooking all your own meals as a family makes sense, but as a solo girl it’s pretty different.
Even if it is a quick recipe, I spend at least an hour on prepping ingredients, cooking the meal and of course the clean up.
Making a change
With this information in mind, I knew that something had to change.
I made the realisation that my time was too valuable to spend on cooking and cleaning. I decided that it’s okay to not cook everyday. As a young professional who is focused on building marketable skills, developing a career and consistently saving and investing – I had other activities to do that would be a better use of my time.
A few days ago, instead of cooking dinner, I bought a meal for $8 and spent that time exercising followed by a business call for one of my side projects. I effectively “spent” $8 to get an hour back and I used that in a more productive way.
Cutting down further
The other method I tried to cut down the life admin/chores section was grocery shopping. I found that I was having to do more grocery shops than normal simply because of weight. Embarrassing to admit, but I would buy 1 – 2 potatoes at a time simply because I struggled carrying heavy items (I have ZERO muscles, just an FYI).
To cut this down, I decided to do a big delivery grocery shop. I’m talking bags of rice, canned tomatoes, potatoes, onions, entire box of soft drink cans. It hurt to pay the $15 delivery but wow, was it worth it! It took the grown delivery man four trips back to van to bring all my groceries to my door, I can’t even imagine how long it would have taken me! As it was a large order, it saved me so much time – driving to the shops, picking everything out, driving back and then hauling it up to my house. Instead, I spent 10 or so minutes making the order online.
Hold on – dryers are a thing?!
I am now officially a dryer person.
I never used a dryer for my clothes as it’s free to dry them outside. Growing up in an immigrant household, our clothes dryer just sat in the garage gathering dust. Having to pay $2 extra to use one, not including the $2 – $5 in energy consumption didn’t make much sense. However, air-drying is such a pain in Melbourne winter. With the sun always disappearing and spontaneous rain it was a real chore to figure out the optimal time to do laundry.
There were many occasions where I took the time to hang up all my clothes, only to rush back to take them down before they were soaked. It also took forever for them to dry when it was a colder day. One week, it was going to rain daily so I decided to give the dryer a go. And wow, what a time-saver!
Being able to do laundry whenever I wanted regardless of the weather was such a luxury, plus I saved so much time from not having to hang the clothes up. From the washing machine, to the dryer, to my wardrobe. So fast and easy – I’m never looking back.
Doing these actions have helped cut down this life admin/chores category by 6 hours per week.
Before this audit, I gave my time away very freely.
If someone came 45 minutes late, I’d let it slide. I’d spend two hours working on a friend’s resume for free. I’d go to a random party for four hours just because I was invited. If a friend wanted to stay over two hours past my bedtime, I’d let it happen.
However, I have realised that I need to be stingy with my time. I can’t freely give it away anymore.
After this experience, I now see my time as a resource. I only go to events that I truly see value in and I avoid wasting even 10 or 15 minutes. I’ve seen this a lot with my full-time job. If I left at 5pm or 5.20pm it wasn’t a big deal to me – however, now it is! Even doing this three days a week meant I was giving work an extra hour of my time. Also, I don’t tolerate lateness anymore.
Being mindful & final thoughts
This has truly been an eye-opening exercise.
One of my biggest key takeaways is that I am simply more mindful of my time. I only put my time towards activities that I really value and if something doesn’t serve me, I won’t do it.
I have also learned that it is okay to spend money to buy time. When I was a broke uni student, it made sense to try to save every cent and disregard the time it took to save said cent. However, as a working professional on a full-time salary, I don’t need to spend time just to save money. Ordering delivery food is okay. Using a clothes dryer is okay. Getting groceries delivered to my door is okay.
This experience has fundamentally shifted how I see time and I recommend trying this out for yourself if you haven’t already.