Do you ever feel like there aren't enough hours in the day and you don't have enough time to finish everything? If you do, you're not alone. It even has a name that started showing up in scientific studies around the turn of the century: time famine.
What is time famine, and what can you do to hack your schedule and find more time in your day?
What Is Time Famine?
Time famine is the scientific name for that feeling like there isn't enough time in the day. It might happen because you took on too many projects at once or you have too much going on in both your work and personal lives. Regardless of the ‘why,’ it leaves many of us scrambling and stressed out as we try to squeeze as much out of every day as we can.
What can we do to ditch time famine for good? Take a look at these tried and true schedule hacks that might help you eliminate the problem.
Most of us try to do more than one thing at a time. You will answer a phone call while typing an email or switch back and forth between email and working on a project or proposal. It seems like you are getting more done, but you are lowering your productivity. Studies have shown that only about 2% of the population can multitask effectively, and if you don't fall into that slim demographic, trying to do more than one thing at a time can lower your productivity by up to 40 percent.
Skip the multitasking. Instead, start one thing, and finish it before moving on to the next.
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
– Albert Einstein
No Fake Work
Take a look at the things you do during an average day. Include everything from meetings to replying to emails to watercooler conversations with your coworkers. Now take a closer look at your daily itinerary and see how many of those things move you toward reaching your goals. Anything that doesn't move you forward falls under the umbrella of fake work. This kind of work helps fill the day, but it doesn't help you get anything done.
Take steps to eliminate fake work from your day. You'll be more productive in the long run and won't end up struggling to meet your deadlines.
Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar
Be Realistic About Your Available Time
No matter what you do, you can't get more than 168 hours out of any given week. Sleeping, eating, and showering takes up roughly 56 of those hours, leaving you 112 productive hours out of the week. Be realistic. Don't schedule yourself for 150 hours worth of work in a week where you only have, at most, 112 hours. You will end up running around like a headless chicken trying to keep up, and you won't get a lot done.
Give each task for the week an estimated timetable, and only schedule yourself for things that you know you will be able to complete. Make sure you take personal goals or activities into account as well — you don't want to work for 112 hours and leave yourself no time for friends, family, and social events.
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” – Warren Buffett
If you finish everything on your to-do list during the week, take some time to reward yourself. It doesn't have to be an expensive or expansive reward. Just do something nice for yourself. Get a manicure, watch your favorite movie, take a nap or buy yourself dinner from your favorite restaurant. (How about some Almond Roca?)
Doing something nice for yourself triggers the release of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine, programming your brain to associate a job well done with a pleasure response. Over time, this feedback can increase your productivity, just because you know that you're going to reward yourself once you finish the job.
These hacks might not add more time to your day, but they will certainly make you feel like you have extra hours to get your job done and enjoy your life.
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” – Steve Jobs
About the Author
Kayla Matthews is a researcher, writer and blogger covering topics related to technology, smart gadgets, the future of work and personal productivity. She is the owner and editor of ProductivityTheory.com and ProductivityBytes.com. Previously, Kayla was a senior writer at MakeUseOf and contributing freelancer to Digital Trends. Kayla's work on smart homes and consumer tech has also been featured on Houzz, Dwell, Inman and Curbed. Additionally, her work has appeared on Quartz, PRNewswire, The Week, The Next Web, Lifehacker, Mashable, The Daily Dot, WIRED and others.