How to Get More Done (And Dispel the Myth You Don't Have Time)

September 17, 2018

 

Let's start by saying I don't agree with the narrative, "we all have the same 24 hours in a day." 

 

In the most technical sense, I suppose it's true. But some of us have better access to time-freeing resources than others. Like, you probably don't have the same 24 hours as Beyonce. She doesn't have to do the laundry or pick up milk and eggs on the way home. If you can afford takeout, you save time on dinner. If you can afford a car, you save time on commuting (and you have better access to more jobs, but that's another subject). 

 

I recognise my own privilege in saying this. My partner and I have more free time and money than, say, people with children, especially single parents. That being said, we all have a certain amount of time in each day, and we choose how to spend it. 

 

A friend of mine who reads a lot of books once told me that he doesn't take his phone into the bathroom. Instead of scrolling through social media or playing games while he poops (we're all guilty), he reads a few pages of his book. 

 

Another friend has a really long commute to work. Instead of listening to music the whole way, she keeps up-to-date on world issues by playing various podcasts or radio shows. 

 

What they have in common is the conscious choice to spend time doing what they think benefits them, over something they feel does not. 

 

I try not to use the phrase, "I don't have the time," because it's just not true. I can find the time to do just about anything, but I have to sacrifice something in order to do it. Claiming I don't have time makes me feel better, and allows me to absolve responsibility for avoiding something I feel like I should be doing.

 

Of course, I can't do everything. I have to choose what I will and will not commit to. But instead of saying I don't have the time, now I say,  "it's not a priority."

 

Saying those words out loud sometimes feels crappy. When it does, I know I need to find the time somehow, somewhere. For instance, "I don't have the time to look for a better job," lets me off the hook. Sure, I don't like it here, but what can I do? I just don't have the time. But "it's not a priority," makes it my responsibility. If I don't like it, tough cookies. 

 

The best part of saying, "it's not a priority" is that you are actively taking charge of how you spend your time, vs being at the mercy of your schedule. You are not a passive participant, you are in control. If I'm comfortable with a task not being a priority ("It's not a priority to go to my co-worker's goodbye dinner"), great. I know the value of my time, and I'm able to choose what I will and will not put my energy towards.

 

It takes a bit of practice, shifting the way you view and talk about your time. But I find it has a profound effect, not only on what I can achieve in a week, but also on my life in general. Sure, getting more things done is great, but not worrying about things that aren't really so important is ever better. 

 

 

 

 

 

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