• Project Adulthood

How to Have More Time as an Adult

Updated: 5 days ago

Are you so exhausted after work that all you can do is watch TV or surf the internet? Feel like you don't have enough time to do the things you want to do? Never-ending to-do list getting you down?

You're not the only one. The horrible feeling that you don't have enough time -- or that you're not using your free time wisely -- is a hallmark of adulthood.

Luckily, there are ways you can make more time in your day. Here's how.

Take inventory of your time

Step 1. Write down everything you already do/need to do in a given day/week.

  • This includes work, shopping, cooking, cleaning, socializing, etc.

  • Remember, there are only 24 hours in a day, so be realistic. If you sleep for 8 hours but end up spending another hour on your phone right after you wake up, plan for 9 hours in bed, and so on.

Step 2. Once you have your week scheduled, take a closer look at it.

Don't have any spare time?

  • Is there anything you can eliminate? For example, do you really need to mop the floor every week?

  • Is there anything you can outsource? For example, getting someone else to cut the grass, clean your home, deliver your groceries, or even prepare/cook your meals for you (FYI, there are many companies that can ship you balanced meals you can make in about 10 minutes).

  • Is there anything you can automate? For example, putting most of your bills on auto-payment from your account or investing in a robotic vacuum cleaner.

  • Is there anything you can prepare in advance? For example, meal prepping on a Sunday for the entire week.

  • Is there anything you can change? For example, getting up earlier, spending less time on social media/Netflix, getting a job that's closer to home, or moving closer to the job (if you have to commute).

Have time to spare?

  • Look at your to-do list. What are some of the most important things you want to achieve? It could be taking up a new hobby, writing a book, starting a side hustle -- anything really.

  • See where in your schedule you could fit your goal/goals into.

Step 3. Finalize your schedule.

  • Take control of your new schedule. For example, if you have to work an extra shift in a week, see what you will need to take out of your schedule to accommodate that.

  • Say "no" to things that you don't want to do, take away your energy, or don't serve your wellbeing.

Still too tired to do anything?

Okay, so now you have a schedule, but you may still feel too tired to actually go through with some of the things on it, especially after a long day of work.

Here are a few tips to help you fight tiredness:

  1. Power naps. Feel like you're starting to flag? If you can, take a power nap. According to NASA research, pilots who napped for 26 minutes in the cockpit improved their alertness by 54% and job performance by 34% compared to pilots who did not nap. The ideal nap time? 10 to 20 minutes. Any longer and you'll enter deeper sleep which can lead to that awful feeling of grogginess.

  2. Enough food and water. Not eating enough food/drinking enough water can make you more tired than you'd otherwise be. Make sure you have a decent breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- but note that the quality of food matters too. Swap out junk food for healthier options. You may notice that on the days you have granola with yogurt for breakfast, you feel more alert than on days you have a bagel.

  3. Keep the momentum going. For most people, it's game over once they sit down on the couch at the end of the day. If there's anything in your schedule that you really need/want to do, try to do it right after work.

More random tips

1. You don't have to finish whatever it is you're working on immediately.

  • For example, instead of cleaning your entire home in one day, split it up by room or task. i.e., Monday: kitchen/change the sheets, Tuesday: bathroom/dusting, Wednesday: bedroom/vacuuming, etc.

  • The same goes for other things, like spring cleaning your garden (i.e., dedicate one day to cut the grass, the next day to remove mulch, etc.), painting a room (i.e., spend one day moving things away from the wall, another day taping edges, etc.), writing a book (i.e., spend one day writing an outline, the next day on research, etc.), and any other project you want to complete.

2. Wake up at the same time every day -- even on your days off.

  • This will help you avoid sleeping in until noon and wasting half of your day off.

3. Be creative when it comes to spending time with your friends, significant other, or kids.

  • Consider exercising together with your friends/partner, or even just spending time in the same room as them working on individual projects.

  • Bring your laptop and work at the picnic table when you bring the kids to the park or run around with them (this could count as exercise for you). You get the idea.

4. Rule out any vitamin/mineral deficiencies.

  • If you're tired all the time, you could be deficient in vitamins and/or minerals like vitamin D, vitamin B-12, magnesium, iron, or potassium. A routine blood test to help rule this out is not a bad idea.

  • You may also unknowingly be suffering from health issues or mental health disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

5. Moderation vs. elimination.

  • Make sure you find the time to do things you enjoy, just do them in moderation. Instead of binge-watching a TV series, watch one episode a night. Rather than scrolling on social media for hours, do so for a few minutes on your break.

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