“This is taking up too much of my time”

This is Part Two of a Three-Part Series on Time.

In the last post, I recommended challenging your perception of how long a healthy habit actually takes. We often have these default beliefs about the length of time something takes when, in reality, it’s not accurate. 

But what happens when you do pay attention to the time something takes, and your belief is correct? This healthy habit not only takes up time, but that time is a barrier for you. 

In that case, I have a few questions for you to consider. 

  • Are you in the early stages?
  • Are there alternatives that bring the same result?
  • Is it worth the trade-off regardless?

THE EARLY STAGES

Learning a new habit can take longer when we’re getting started. Not only have I experienced this many times, but I’ve seen it with clients and groups. 

Confession: I didn’t really learn to cook until my 30s. No, really. Throughout my 20s, I just knew how to heat things up. 

So when I committed to learning how to cook properly, I was very sloooooow. I can’t even count the number of times dinner was ready an hour or two later than planned. 

I was inexperienced. 

And that’s normal. Building a new skill has a learning curve. So that probably means you will take longer in the early stages. 

If I had judged how long it takes to cook based on my early experience, I would have never stuck with it. 

So when I hear people say that meal prepping and making their own meals is a full-time job, I know how they feel. But, if they buy into that story, what are the chances they will keep it up long term?

MORE EFFICIENT ALTERNATIVES

Let’s say experience is not the issue. You aren’t going to become more skilled and faster. 

Then ask whether you can achieve the same result another way that takes less time. 

Maybe you’ve heard the term minimum effective dose. It’s often used in the exercise world and refers to the minimum amount of work to get your desired result. 

In other words, you may be able to get similar health benefits from an alternative option. 

And, continuing on the exercise concept, let’s say you are struggling to get to the gym because of the time commitment. 

Ask yourself:

  • Can you try a condensed workout?
  • Is there a closer option that cuts down travel to/from the gym?
  • Can you work out at home? Outside?
  • Is there a virtual class you can take?

No matter what the habit is, there may be options available to you that cut down on the total time. 

Not sure where to start? Ask other people who embed consistent healthy habits into their days. 

WORTH THE TRADE OFF

Time is finite. So everything we do is a trade-off. 

The way we spend our free time is a choice. And sometimes, it’s simply worth the time it takes. 

Yes, it might take longer than we want. No, we are not going to get faster or more efficient. 

Then you have to ask whether the value it provides is worth the time it takes. 

Second confession: I’m still kind of slow in the kitchen. I have to estimate how long a meal will take to prep – and then add 30% more time. 

But, I still do cook many meals at home. Because it’s worth it. 

Are there times when I don’t feel like cooking and use a short-cut? Absolutely. But I haven’t given up on cooking. 

BUT WAIT… 

When time is a barrier for you, don’t skip the step of actually determining how long the habit takes. It’s so easy to slip into our default beliefs. 

Once you know the true time, then start asking whether you are going to get faster, have a shorter alternative, or decide it’s worth it regardless. 

It’s all about choices. But choices feel best when they are actually considered properly. 

So what happens when we know the trade-off is worthwhile but we still can’t seem to make the time? 

More on that in Part 3.