“I Don’t Have Time For” Is Not a True Statement for Many of Us

What is the most recent you’ve said you don’t have time for? Is it a daily exercise/movement routine, yoga/meditation/prayer, cooking nutritious food, walking outside four walls, learning a new skill, or re-engaging with a hobby or interest?

I’ve said this phrase to myself or others in the past, but these days I use the phrases “I’m not making time for” or “I choose to spend time doing other things”. Because that’s the truth. All of us have time; what we choose to do with it is up to us. (There are some exceptions with amounts of free time based on privilege, of course, and the some of the underprivileged among us actually have little to no free time.) 

Take in this info though: the average American spends 3 hours per day watching tv and 3 hours and 43 minutes per day on their phones. You may or may not fit the average, but’s it’s worth pausing and considering whether you fit this picture. Even if you spend half or a third of this time on your phone or watching tv and you swapped that for doing something you love or you know would benefit you, so much in your life could change!

I’m coming clean: there are three interests that I’ve not consistently made time for in the past few years: painting, music (practicing piano & guitar & songwriting), and writing (journaling, blogging, writing poetry and working on my memoir). In my heart and mind I see myself practicing, writing & creating new music, painting something good enough to hang on my wall, and writing a memoir and poetry collection. 

All of those are activities I enjoy and desire to do, yet I don’t make time for them. Why? The first reason that pops into my mind is that it takes a lot of energy and focus to sit down and create and the end result will often not be good enough to turn into a finished product. Key words: end result. 

There will be plenty of material that I create that will be just part of the creation and learning process — basically only for the experience itself. And that’s where my capitalistic mindset has me. If it’s not good enough to create a product and sell/sing/play/show it then what was the point? Time is money. I’ve heard this over and over. And all that time will be wasted “playing” rather than working.

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown talks about 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living. One is that wholehearted people make time to play and another is they make time to sing, dance, and laugh. So the playing is something I desire to make time for.

And I do dance in the kitchen out of joy or to let out frustration, but when I think about it, I can find production or habit stacking within dance. I don’t consider dancing a waste of time because my body is getting some movement in and burning calories. Another line of thinking that has been passed down to me, so built-in it’s automatically how I think.

That’s why a daily physical yoga practice can be a fight in my mind sometimes too. How can I spend 30–60 minutes on movement that doesn’t result in several hundred calories burned ? Because unless it’s hot yoga or Ashtanga, it’s not a high calorie burner for me anyway. So then I still have to get my workout in.

And I’m not a naturally physically active person. I’m the stuck-in-my-head type who’s always thinking, dreaming, reading, etc. I often only work out because, firstly, I’m concerned about my appearance and only secondly, about my health. (More built-in patriarchal and capitalistic thinking. Ugh.)

And it takes mental and emotional energy to override these patterns of how we see ourselves and the world and do something different. To say: 

  • This is not the only way of living life. 
  • I can choose another perspective. 
  • I can do something just for the experience of doing it. There are other benefits outside of production, work, attempting to make my body fit the cultural ideal, or any other unhealthy pressure that has been foisted on me. 
  • I can choose to tend to my mental health. 
  • I can choose to feed my spiritual hunger. 
  • I can strum a guitar or practice piano simply because I enjoy it. 
  • I can sit with a cup of tea and even a piece of something delicious because I crave rest and delight and space to simply be.
  • I can laugh and dance, talk to the plants, enjoy living.

I will always make time for work because I love it and because I live in this economic system and it’s necessary. I can also choose to make time for wonder, for awe, for rest, for play, for silliness, for being myself. I can take an honest look at how I spend the hours of my days and choose a kinder, slower, more intentional way of living. 

What will you make time for today?