Is your day sprinkled with time confetti?

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.

16 thoughts on “Is your day sprinkled with time confetti?

  1. i so get this, and it’s so easy to fall down that rabbit hole of time confetti. it’s a challenge to focus on just being time rich, you spend your time worrying about how to be accomplish it. the trick is to just jump into it and let the rest go for a bit, knowing it will always be there, and most won’t matter in the long run. i feel time rich when out walking, writing, and reading , sleeping in and not hurrying to get up (hard for me), and playing with my grandies

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  2. Time is definitely a finite resource. I was always amused by the legal practice of filing motions for “enlargement of time” which are petitions asking to extend court-imposed deadlines. If only we could somehow expand time.🤣 Recognizing and overcoming time traps sounds like a great way to enjoy and make the best use of the time we have.

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  3. This is well explained, Jim. In order to make the most of time, you have to allocate it to specific tasks and ignore the distractions. I only blog or check social media during specific timeslots during the day. If I manage to get other free time, I use it to write. Of course, the best laid plans can fail due to family demands but those always take precedence.

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  4. I’ve never heard the term time confetti before, but it seems to fit. My only argument would be that some of those things could be avoided simply by turning off your phone during your hour of leisure time. Like everything else in life, we should maintain control of the amount of time we do things.

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  5. So that what this is! I do experience this more at work when I have 10/15 minutes gaps between meetings where I do much of nothing!

    I’ve become quite self-aware how much time I waste reacting to things like email/social media. I’m trying to manage it by scheduling it in at certain times rather feeling I need to provide instant responses.

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  6. I love the term ‘time confetti’. It very accurately describes the proposed effect on our leisure time. That visual may be enough for people to recognize and start to limit the effect on their time. Obviously, as in the author’s example, our connected devices seem to play a huge culprit in the shredding of our time. I have breakfast every Saturday morning at a good friend’s restaurant. It is my one chance through the week to visit with him and his family. During this hour or so of leisure time, I leave the phone in the car. It makes a difference.

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  7. An interesting post, Jim, and even though I’d not heard the term before I can relate to it. Time fascinates me: we can’t see it, feel it, hear, taste or smell it, but it is always there.

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  8. This is great! I’ve been time poor for over a month now. I’ve missed reading your blogs and those of others. I’m so bogged down with the Etsy shop at the moment and orders have picked up that I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I haven’t been out birding or done much of anything for weeks. Was missing my friend! 🙂

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