How do you make time for Mindfulness when you have no spare time?

“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.”  Jean de La Bruyère, Les caractères

One aspect of mindfulness is that you need to put aside time to practice. In our busy and hectic world, when it is suggested that you take 20 minutes or even 10 minutes out of your day to perform a mindfulness meditation, most people will say that they do not have the time.

Considering that we have 24 hours in a day or 1,440 minutes, you would think that we could squeeze in some time. I thought I would check on what the average adult spends their time on. I checked via the wonders of Google and came across a US Labor Census report from 2014 [a link is at the end of the article] and an article from OFCOM, published on the BBC, which mentions we spend more time on technology activities than asleep! Some of the numbers are quite surprising:

  • Adults spend more time on technology & social media devices [8 hours, 41 minutes] verses asleep [8 hours, 21 minutes]. When you break down the media consumption, you see that TV is still the most popular activity:
    • 3 hours 52 minutes watching TV
    • 2 hours 46 minutes listening to radio – either online or via a device or in the car
    • 1 hour 8 minutes on the internet
    • 28 minutes using a mobile phone
    • Only 9 minutes talking on a fixed land line phone
  • We spend 1 hour and 10 minutes eating
  • Over 1 hour and 45 minutes on household chores and activities
  • The remaining 4 hours a day are spent on many different types of activities: shopping; caring and helping household and family; education activities; leisure and sports, are just some activities mentioned. Oh and don’t forget washing and grooming ourselves.

As you can see from the list above, our lives are roughly shaped into thirds. One-third is spent at work, one-third on social and personal care and the final third is spent asleep. You would think that we could squeeze in some time?

I was speaking to a colleague at work and he was moaning about the fact that he wanted to get fit. His issue was that he did not have the time to dedicate to getting fit. He had membership of the gym as his partner works there and he has free membership. No, it was the time to get to the gym, do the exercise regime and back, it is just over 5 minutes drive from his house. Rather, as he worked from home at least three days per week, he would get up at around 6am and start work, checking and sending e:mails and the like.This had become a habit and he could not see where he could free up time. We talked through some of the reasons and with some prompting, he realised that putting in a regular checkpoint call with his team at 8:00am; before the full rush of the day; he could actually get up at his usual time, go to the gym and be back in time to start the workday. He has started to change his old habit and is loving the time he can spend at the gym.

I too have changed my habits to allow me time to practice mindfulness. I get up slightly earlier in the morning and dedicate at least 30 minutes to mindful movement exercises and a short practice. Research shows that regular practice, even of a short duration, is better, than irregular activity. It took time and even now, on occasions, I fall out of habit and miss a day. Rather than go into self-doubt, self-criticism mode, I accept that it has occurred, forgive myself and carry on with the practice.

A quick tip if you really do not think you have the time. Why not jot down a week’s worth of activities on a time diary? Use your diary on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Once you have done this for a week or so, sit and reflect on the amount of time you have spent and the tasks. You will see that there are time slots in the day, where with a small amount of effort, you can free this up to enable mindfulness practice. Then set up a schedule, write it down and when you have completed a session, reward yourself. A coffee, tea, sweet or other small reward and you will soon see that effort becomes habit.

I leave you with the following quote:

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”  ― Groucho Marx


The following article is from the USA Bureau of Labor [American spelling] that lists the average hours per day spent in primary activities
BBC article: Britons spend more time on tech than asleep, study suggests.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s