So little time, so much to do? - 4 tips on how to manage time poverty

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  • The feeling of 'so little time, so much to do' has a name - time poverty.
  • Time poverty refers to a chronic feeling of not having enough time to do what you want to and enjoy doing.
  • Here are the effects of time poverty and why you should not downplay it.

Do you always feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Well, that's called time poverty.

Time poverty is described as the chronic feeling of having too many things to do and not enough time to do them. 

Between trying to find time for yourself, time with your kids or family, time for household tasks and time for your friends, you could end up feeling constantly overwhelmed, under pressure and simply tired.

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While certain groups of people have enjoyed the benefits of more efficient ways of working over the last few decades (i.e. working from home), others have suffered due to an increase in time spent on unpaid work and cognitive labour – burdens most often shouldered by women and results in time poverty.

Some may argue that you are not using your time correctly but being time-poor goes beyond what you're doing with the time you have, it's also about how what you do makes you feel. It is not that people want to laze around instead of going to work or that a mother doesn't enjoy spending time with her kids. It's more the fact that women have to go to work and then come home and do unpaid labour, with little to no reward for it, which leads to feelings of constant physical and mental exhaustion.

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According to, the side effects of feeling time-poor include the following:

- High levels of anxiety, depression and stress: constantly feeling like you don't have time increases your stress due to the constant feeling of being under pressure.

- Decreased levels of productivity: the feeling of not having enough time in the day also leads to feeling overwhelmed and eventually leads to analysis paralysis.

- Decreased levels of health: because lack of time also means people are opting more for fast food or quicker and unhealthier food alternatives. No time for exercising or being active also leads to poor health.

- Deceased levels of joy and happiness as a result of the inability to do the things that bring you joy.

In South Africa, women’s contribution to non-market production to the national economy was found to be almost double that of men. Consequently, women here had 30 percent to 40 percent less time for personal care and leisure than men at the household level.

Tips to navigate feelings of time poverty:

1. Prepare and plan

The first step is to identify everything that consumes your time. Write down all the tasks that need to be completed. Remember to include events and appointments that need to be attended and situations that need to be solved.

2. Prioritise

Prioritise the tasks on your list and highlight those that are indispensable. You may want to use the four Ds of time management here. Put each of your tasks into one of these four groups:

- Do tasks that are important and urgent.

- Defer tasks that are important but not urgent.

- Delegate tasks that are urgent but not important.

- Delete tasks that are neither urgent nor important.

3. Time-batching

Try batching similar tasks together and do them at once. For example, group household chores together and allocate a Saturday morning to get them done.

4. Make time for yourself

One of the most important tips for the time-poor is to take some time for yourself. With a little self-care, you can recharge your batteries and be ready to take on the world again.

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