Photo courtesy of Ada Umubera

In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, most of us feel like our time is anything but flexible. Our schedules are mostly shaped by work, family, or community commitments, and it often feels like we’re just trying to keep up with all of it. Many of us struggle to find time to do things we need to do, let alone want to do, as the relentless busyness of life seems to tighten its grip on our schedules.

With the changing of seasons as my backdrop, I have recently been reflecting on the preciousness of time. In this reflection, I have been examining my own relationship to time and taking inventory of how I have unconsciously choosen to spend it. I started to question whether I use my time in ways that feel fulfilling or if I allow it to be consumed by long lists of to-do’s or mindless distractions. 

Likewise, as a therapist, I understand the significance of supporting individuals in navigating their own relationship with time and prioritizing their lives effectively. Throughout the therapeutic process, I employ various strategies to support clients in their own journey. For example – 

Exploration of Past Experiences: 
  • Supporting the individual in delving into their past to uncover any significant life events or experiences that have shaped their perception of time. This can help identify any underlying beliefs, or traumas, related to how one “must” spend their time.
Self-Reflection: 
  • Supporting the individual in taking an inventory of how they tend to spend their time and its impact on their mental health, relationships, and overall well-being. This self-awareness can be a crucial first step in making changes.
Identifying Values and Goals: 
  • Supporting the individual in clarifying their values and goals, both short-term and long-term. By acknowledging and aligning one’s daily activities with their core values and aspirations, individuals can gain a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment with their lives.

In essence, a therapeutic relationship can provide a safe, non-judgmental space for individuals to explore their relationship with time, gain insights, and support in proritizing their time in ways that make them feel full and fulfilled for who they are in the present moment. 

Acknowledging that therapy may not suit everyone, here are some supportive questions aimed at helping anyone take inventory of how they spend their time, reset their schedule, and regain balance in their life. Consider journaling about these questions as a personal reflection exercise to gain a deeper sense into your relationship with time:

  • Can you think of a significant life event, or experience, from your past that you believe has had a lasting impact on how you perceive and manage your time today?
  • In what ways have these significant life event(s) been helpful?
  • In what ways have these significant life event(s) not been helpful?
  • Can you describe any beliefs, or messages, about time that you’ve internalized from your past, whether from family, culture, or significant people in your life?
  • In what ways have these beliefs/messages been helpful?
  • In what ways have these beliefs/messages not been helpful?
  • What small step, or action, can you take today to bring your schedule into closer alignment with your values and goals?

I hope these questions support you in reconnecting back to yourself and support you in carving out your time more intentionally. As I answered the above questions for myself, it became clear that I should check how I’m spending my time more often–maybe once a month or at least once every season. That way, I can make sure I’m not letting things go off track without realizing it, considering how valuable time is. I truly believe we all have the capacity, and the right, to feel confident in ourselves, secure in relationships, and fulfilled in our lives – sometimes, we just need to hit the reset button to ensure we are on the right track.