More Time.

Photograph by Icon8

I’ll open with a quote, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”1

So, why do we waste so much of our limited time by having too much stuff?

Take my past scenario as proof. My alarm sounds at some unreasonable hour and I’m out of bed, showered but still half asleep I’m now staring into my sock drawer not knowing what socks to pick. After a brief moment of pondering I select the socks I want to wear and with one sock on and the other on its way to being on, I see that my big toe has decided to flash me. “Ah shit, it’s got a hole in it!” I grumble to myself. I take them off, put them back in the drawer, more indecision follows, and more time spent on picking socks. Correction, more time wasted on picking socks.

I’ve now thrown out all the socks with holes and all the ones I know I’ll never wear, including the classic pair from Christmas. Now when I awake, I’ve limited my sock count to a minimum and I know they are all in good form, arranged in their pairs and easier to pick, thus saving me my precious time. Imagine, if this is the same scenario for every item of clothing you need to put on that day, you can save yourself a few minutes every day. The time to potentially have a more leisurely breakfast or maybe just knowing it takes less time to get ready, you can snooze that Monday morning alarm one more time guilt-free.

And for those of you still unsure, take those 3 minutes of faffing and indecision and multiply it by the number days you do wake up*, and you’ll find you’ve saved yourself around 54 days of your life from stressing over bloody socks. Simply, it’s that having less clothing and only the clothes you will ever wear makes for less decision making and a smoother start to the day.

You’ll most probably be in a better mood too as you start your day relaxed and confident in an outfit you know feels right. Hey, you might even be on time for work.

But remember, the time you’re not at work, is your time, so don’t waste it. Having less stuff means for fewer chores and what chores there are become easier. There will be things going unused or items you’re preserving on shelves that are just collecting dust, you might not even remember how you’ve come to have them, or maybe even what they are for, but they are there, collecting dust. Less stuff means less to clean, resulting in more spare time, and more time for the things that really matter.

The house I moved from had a garden, which would have been great for a family with kids, perhaps to have a swing, kick a ball around or have parties, but there was only me, and I’m not a gardener. In truth during the four years I lived there I only ever used it as a place to hang out the washing. Yet, I was frequently cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and weeding the path all just to keep it looking respectable. I would hate to actually calculate the number of hours spent on these tasks just to let a shirt dry. It was a waste; for a family, perfect, but in my situation a waste. So my current flat is close to a park, where I don’t need to cut the grass, trim the hedges or dig up the weeds and I now have that time back from maintaining the thing I didn’t use. I also no longer have a lawnmower, hedge trimmers, a shovel, a spade, a fork, a rake, shears, gardening gloves, a trowel; and the list could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.

It’s easy to see how you can accumulate items quickly, and with too much stuff it’s inevitable there will come a time when you can’t find something you want. “I could swear it was here!”, “Where did I put it?” The short answer is, it’s lost amongst the stuff, which will, in turn, lead to a frantic displacement of all your other stuff to locate the thing you’ve lost. Ultimately you’re wasting time, and what’s more, after some further time searching you’ll no doubt go and waste someone else’s time too, “Can you help me find it?”.

Now that I have less stuff I know what I have and where it is, and if I need something I don’t have, I now have the time to go and buy it.

But only if I really need it.

*average UK lifespan in years minus the years your parent would have dressed you = approx. 71 years.

1 Harvey MacKay