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The Gift of Time, by Shiro Torquato, PhD

Here is a guest piece, written by clinical psychologist Shiro Torquato. You can learn more about her by visiting her page on our website.

“There are never enough hours in the day.” “I’m so busy that if I had one extra hour each day I think I could get things done.” “Where does the time go?” If you have found yourself making any of these statements you are not alone. In fact, you probably feel the same way as most Americans. We live in a hectic, fast-paced world in which there is often “so much to do and never enough time.”

One of the biggest differences between our society today as compared to thirty years ago is technology. But isn’t technology supposed to make our lives easier and less stressful? Microwave ovens allow us to cook food in minutes rather than hours; cell phones give us the opportunity to communicate with each other anytime, anywhere; and the internet has opened the door to so much information (both good and bad) and buying opportunities that many people can research and buy a car or house without ever leaving their desk. But with the benefits of technology come the negative consequences.

Two of the most common “robbers of time” are the internet and television. You might say: “But I save so much time shopping on the internet that I don’t have to deal with the hassle of the crowded malls during the holiday season”. Or “I Tivo all my favorite shows so I save time by fast-forwarding through all the commercials.” That might be true. However, how much time do you waste reading all the internet jokes and stories that are forwarded to you by friends and co-workers, much less passing them on to others? I met a woman who complained that she is so busy that she goes to bed exhausted each night and never gets everything done for her family. This same woman finds time to send internet pictures, jokes and stories to her friends as least three times a week. “Where does the time go?”

So, would you like to have an extra 30 minutes a day? How about an hour or even two hours? Think of all the things you could get accomplished. Well, here are a few easy-and relatively painless-strategies to get more time out of each day.

First of all, many of us waste a great deal of time sorting through the junk mail and spam that invades our e-mail in boxes. One easy solution is to have one e-mail address for all of your internet searches and purchases, and a different one for your personal and work contacts. That way most of the advertisements and spam will not clutter your daily e-mail. You might have to set up a new e-mail address and notify all of your preferred contacts (the people you actually want to hear from) to decrease the clutter. With this system you will spend much less time every day attending to e-mail. Also, you can either delete the jokes, pictures and stories that have been forwarded numerous times by your friends/coworkers or just politely ask them to stop sending them to you. Yes, there is an occasional gem in the bunch that is worth reading, but how much time did you waste reading through all the coal before you found that diamond? There is your extra 30 minutes a day.

Now for TV. This might not be as painless, but in the long run quite worth the effort. Did you know that it is estimated that the average American watches 4 to 5 hours of television every day! You must be thinking, I never watch that much TV. Or do you? Well, if you consider the 30 minutes of morning news, the 30 minutes of evening news, an occasional afternoon soap opera or daytime talk show and then having the TV on between 8pm and 11pm (Prime Time) this quickly adds up to 4 to 5 hours every day. There are even some people who manage to catch a TV show at work or go home during their lunch break to watch a favorite show, and many families eat dinner with the television on. This does not take into account the countless hours of afternoon and early evening shows that our children watch.

So, what can you do? If you plan to watch only one TV news broadcast and catch a second radio news update during the day while driving you have gained an extra 30 minutes. Then eliminate one nightly prime time TV show between 8pm and 11pm and you have gained an extra hour. Turn the TV off by 10pm and you have gained another hour. Add that all up and by the end of the work week you have 12 ½ extra hours that have magically appeared, that you had all a long! Wouldn’t that help get some of those long put off chores or projects completed, or allow you the simple pleasure of an extra hour of sleep? Think of what you would do with all of that newly discovered time.

If you enjoyed the topic and strategies in this article, stay tuned to the next issue. The next topic will be how families can save time, money and their sanity during the busy after work/dinner hours.

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