Most people think of confetti as associated with some sort of celebration like a parade or wedding.
That is not the case with time confetti, a coin termed by Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, to describe all the small scraps of free time she experienced in a day. The problem is that these small scraps of free time are experienced in the midst of multitasking on other responsibilities.
Ashley Whillians notes that time confetti interferes with our ability to truly enjoy our leisure time.
Here’s an example shared by Whillans:
You have one hour of leisure at 7 p.m. During that hour, you receive two emails, check both, and respond to one; four Twitter notifications about useless pontificating or terrible people saying terrible things, and you thumb through the replies for one of them; three Slack notifications from colleagues asking you questions or a favor, of which you answer one and ignore two; one alarm reminding you to call your mother tomorrow on her birthday; and four texts from a friend trying to make plans for next weekend, all four of which you reply to.
Each event in itself is mundane and takes only seconds. But collectively they create two negative effects. The first is the sheer volume of time they take away from your hour (at least 10%). The second, more invasive effect of time confetti is the way it fragments the hour of leisure. It’s most likely that these interruption are randomly distributed throughout the hour. The hour of leisure becomes several smaller chunks, sometimes only five or six minutes long.
So much for that hour of leisure! People end up enjoying their leisure time less than they had hoped and they also feel like they have less leisure time than perhaps they really did, a feeling known as being time poor.
So how do we become time rich?
Whillans notes that we all have the power to overcome the time traps we have fallen victim to. As with efforts to get fit, increasing becoming time rich requires taking small, deliberate steps each day to enjoy your free time (and have more of it).
While being time rich looks different for everyone, the happiest and most time rich are those who are deliberate with their free time. Working toward being time rich is about recognizing and overcoming the time traps in our lives and intentionally carving out happier and more meaningful moments each day.
For me, being time rich would mean less time checking my stats and more time spent reading for pleasure. While being time rich may not buy me a beachfront property, it will likely make my days more enjoyable.