Lifestyle

How To Make More Time To Live Sustainably

Written by Jennifer Nini

If there’s one reason that comes up again and again for why people don’t implement sustainable lifestyle practices, it’s this: they’re busy and just don’t have enough time to focus on it.

I get it. I do. I empathise.

But I’m busy too. 

I think the issue is not that people are busy. Who isn’t busy?

It’s that people don’t make eco living a priority. 

In other words: people make other things a priority over making sustainable lifestyle choices.

It doesn’t make them bad people – it’s that they value different things.

So, what do you value?

Here are some things people value:

  • experiences
  • luxury items
  • wealth
  • travel
  • community
  • status
  • health
  • family
  • love
  • nature
  • job title
  • meaningful work
  • friendships
  • democracy
  • fame
  • beauty
  • attention
  • fitness
  • self expression

I know what I value – it’s evident throughout this site (check out the About page to understand what I value).

But to learn what you or other people value, all you need to do is observe how you/they spend your/their time.

Here’s a list of things that take up people’s time and mental energy:

  • raising children
  • relationships 
  • making money and investments
  • work responsibilities
  • going to school/university and studying
  • socialising
  • entrepreneurship
  • playing sports and getting fit
  • creative endeavours
  • commuting to and from work and school
  • house chores 
  • pets
  • family logistics
  • meetings
  • yard and pool maintenance
  • car maintenance
  • buying food and cooking for the family
  • getting nails done
  • poor health and depression
  • caring for loved ones, those with disabilities or elderly parents
  • financial stress
  • paying bills
  • charity and volunteer work
  • shopping
  • makeup and hair
  • social media
  • TV 

Work out what you value - how to make time to love more sustainably

This list is not exhaustive but gives you a good idea of where people spend a big portion of their time and why they “don’t have time” or are “too busy” to live sustainably.

Our modern lifestyles are complex so we really can’t blame people for being apathetic about green living and climate change.

But that doesn’t mean they’re let off the hook either.

They can still learn to make time.

So how can you make more time?

You can’t really produce more time per se as each of us are given 24 hours each day, but you can free up time.

Here’s how:

  1. Make a list of what you value and then review where you spend your time and make sure it lines up with what you say you value.
  2. Then reduce the amount of time spent on the time wasting activities in the list above or cut out activities altogether.

By doing this, you’ll have time to focus on eco lifestyle activities (or other activities you enjoy) such as growing a herb garden, cooking and planting trees.

Here’s just some of the things I’ve done to free up time…

1. I removed ‘time wasters’.

I gave up watching TV on a daily basis and stopped reading the news each morning. It’s been five years since I’ve been actively engaged in either of these activities. I’ve saved myself at least 10 hours each week for 5 years which is equivalent to 108 days or three months – time I’ve put towards other things given my life purpose and meaning; things like writing, creating videos, reading, starting and growing ethical businesses.

In addition, the news is a negativity trap so avoiding it is better for my health. I want to remain optimistic and hopeful – and the news inhibits these feelings.

Reduce social media exposure. Prioritise what's important - make time

2. I reduced social media exposure.

I also reduced the time I spend on social media apps, particularly Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. It used to give me anxiety knowing I hadn’t replied to a message, email or comment. I came to learn a couple of years ago – and particularly with the site’s increasing popularity – that it’s virtually impossible to respond to each one. If I did, all my time would be spent responding to emails (the bane of my creative existence) and not on the things that matter most.

I practice digital minimalism which helps me focus my time and energy on my priorities. I spend less than an hour on social media each day compared with the three hours on average that other people spend.

With almost 5,000 subscribers and more than 31,000 social followers (and rising by the day) I have every reason to keep checking in. But I don’t. So if I can break the addiction, so can you. 

3. I embraced a minimalist lifestyle.

decluttered my closet and home so I wouldn’t need to clean and maintain items. I abhor house work so the less I have to clean, the better. I also have a minimalist aesthetic – a result of having hoarder parents – so I prefer not to collect things and cram stuff on every surface space and in every nook, cranny and crevice.

I embrace a minimalist lifestyle - it's how I free up time to live sustainably

4. Deleted email app off of my phone.

I deleted email off of my smartphone to make it less accessible. Now I can’t check emails as soon as I wake up, which I was in the habit of doing. I’ve been able to free up at least half an hour each day because I’m not compulsively checking messages (I used to check at least 15 times a day if not more) nor am I wasting time re-reading them as soon as I’m back in the office. By implementing this one little ‘hack’, I’ve saved myself at least two and half hours each week.

Deleting the email app has also freed up mental energy. Sometimes I’d wake up to a notification from an internet troll, or an email about a digital problem or an unhappy client, and I’d stew on it until I was at the office ready to deal with the problem. Now that I don’t have direct access to emails on my phone, I enjoy blissful mornings over a cup of coffee whilst simultaneously listening to a business podcast. My emotions are not dictated by the emails I’ve read.

Deleted email app off phone to free up time for things I enjoy

5. No commuting during the work week.

I also stopped commuting to and from work. Instead I spend the entire week at the office and that saves me two hours each day or 10 hours each week because I’m not commuting back and forth to the farm. This is also by far a more sustainable option because there’s one less car on the road avoiding the consumption of fossil fuel and reducing emissions.

6. Minimal beauty (AKA true natural beauty).

I minimised my beauty routine too. I rarely wear makeup and nail polish these days. I even cut my hair boy short so I wouldn’t need to shampoo, condition, blow dry or straighten it. Since I’m involved in the set up of several businesses, reducing time spent on my beauty routine is necessary. I need that time for important business matters, not painting my nails a sexy hue of red.

By embracing my natural beauty, I’ve saved myself 260 hours over the last two years, equivalent to just over 10 days. 

Minimise your beauty routine to free up more time

7. Learned to say no.

While I still say yes to the people, opportunities and events that matter, I am learning to say no to the things that don’t. If I say yes to everything, I risk half-assing each project and my close relationships because I’d be burning myself out. 

Learning to say no to others means saying yes to myself. Saying no to others means saying yes to my family, health, wellbeing, gardening, writing, cooking, and connecting with nature.

8. That means ‘no’ to babies too.

While people my age are scrambling to tick the normal lifecycle boxes such as marriage, suburban home and steady 9 to 5 job, the one ‘goal’ I’m just not interested in ‘achieving’ is having babies. I’ve written about the baby issue in great detail so I won’t go into it here. Let’s just say that not having babies means I have more time to focus on the things I care about. Do I care about having a baby of my own? Nope.

People often wonder how it is that I can live such a dedicated eco lifestyle whilst writing prolifically, being actively involved in the sustainable lifestyle communities and setting up several businesses – well now you know! 

(Note: I couldn’t possibly do all of this without the help of my man Ben and my in-laws because freeing up time for things I value such as educating people on sustainable living and growing our businesses means having to lean on them more in other areas such as team management and farm duties. My family are legends!).

What about you? How do you make time to live sustainably? What tips and tricks can you share to help others make room for greener living? Make sure to leave your helpful advice in the comment section below!

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About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she began this blog to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she's not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her certified organic farm reconnecting with nature.

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