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What Is Time Famine?

Jul 7, 2017

time famine

The scientific community identified the very real concept of “time famine” about 20 years ago — are you suffering from it? Here’s what you need to know about this disorder that plays on your feelings of never having enough time in the day.

Too Many Tasks, Not Enough Time

It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor. It doesn’t matter if you’re a king or a blue-collar worker. It doesn’t matter what country you live in, what religion you are, or what you had for breakfast. No matter who you are, you only get 24 hours in a day, and that’s it. Yet, so many of us have lives filled with responsibility after responsibility — not to mention wanting to get some leisure time in for ourselves once in a while. It’s enough to leave us feeling overwhelmed and like we can never catch up with all the things we’re supposed to do.


This is a very real mental health and sociological phenomenon that researchers have dubbed “time famine.” Left unchecked, time famine can lead to feelings of burnout, lessened well-being, and even anxiety and depression. And it’s not hard to see how this can trickle down to affect your physical health as well: if you’re feeling crunched for time, ordering that pizza instead of making a healthy dinner starts to look appealing. Skipping the gym to stay home and write that extra email becomes a nightly reality. Suddenly, your daily life has created an inertia of unhealthy choices that are seemingly impossible to escape from.


Strategies To Lessen Time Famine

So, what can we do about time famine and the detrimental effect it has on our lives and our relationships? The answer is somewhat surprising, but researchers believe they have identified one of the best ways to reduce time famine. The solution? Buy back some of your time!


Yes, if we realign our thinking to realize that our time is ultimately more valuable than our money, we can start to see how an extra few dollars spent here and there can really add up to increase our quality of life. For example, a busy mom might opt to have groceries delivered to the house for a small fee instead of taking 90 minutes to go shopping. You might schedule a house cleaner to come deep-clean your living space for $45 instead of spending 3 hours on Sunday doing it yourself.


While these choices might seem indulgent or even wasteful at first glance, it’s important to realize what these small purchases are actually doing for you in terms of lessening the strain on your day. By freeing up large blocks of your day, you are actually “paying yourself back” time in exchange for money. How much is your time worth? Chances are, it’s worth a whole lot more than the small cost associated with time-saving services. And the reality is, if these choices are carefully researched, it will cost much less than most families might expect.


Are you feeling the pressure of time famine in your daily life? Consider opting to purchase some small time-saving services, and regain a modicum of control over the speed with which your life goes by.