(or how to become a master of it)
“I don’t have time” — she said
“Welcome” — Death said
Neither I know you nor the future, which makes me unable to guess for how long we’ll be alive. What I do know is that time works equally for you, me and the rest of humanity… and that’s why it’s one of the most interesting resources available.
Even though it’s probably the most fair resource, we often hear -or say- that we “don’t have time”. But how many times is that statement really true?
Rarely, to be generous. Most of the time it’s just a matter of priorities (I’ll get to that later). Therefore things like “I can’t fit it in my schedule” should become “I can’t fit it in my priorities”. But where’s the difference?
- Whenever we can’t finish something in a given time and we’re using all of our resources, we can honestly say we don’t have time.
- When we’re so busy that we can’t do something because we’re doing other stuff then we have the time but we choose to use it for those other things.
Let’s see an example:
- I may say “I don’t have time to write a book” if it’s a 500 page novel that my publisher wants me to write in three weeks.
- If I want to write a book but I “don’t have time” because I work, take the kids to school, socialise, go to the gym and watch Netflix, etc. that’s a matter of priorities.
* * *
Now that we’re on the same page let’s get to the best part. How can you master your use of time? I’ve summed it up into two skills: Optimisation (or how to create free time) and Prioritisation (or how to find time when you’re using it all).
Optimisation is the only way to create free time and if there’s another one that’s not here is because I haven’t thought about it. To optimise you just have to think of any action in which you invest time in and ask the following questions:
- Can I eliminate it, shorten it or pause it?
- Can I automate it?
- Can I delegate it?
- Can I make it more efficient or combine it with another action?
Note: By can I also mean are you willing to. I know you can stop cutting your toe nails but are you willing to?
Everything we do is because we give it more priority than anything else on that moment. Here’s where most of us screw up. We like to believe that things have priorities, but they don’t. Priority is something we give moment-to-moment and when those priorities are not aligned with our values we feel like we’re “wasting our time”.
So, back on track, let’s say you feel like you don’t have time for something. Well, now that you know better, let’s say that you do have the time but you’re using it for other things. The question is, how can you use prioritisation to make time for it? Here’s the 3-step process that I follow:
- Define how much time do you need. One hour today? 3 days a week? 15 days each year?
- Give each action the appropriate priority. How important is it? How much benefit does it give you? How much do you enjoy it? Doing it takes or gives you more time in the future?
- Evaluate and decide. Do you have enough time to do the new action if you remove other actions with lower priority?
And finally I’ll let Seth finish with this quote:
Remarkable work is usually accomplished by people who have non-typical prioritiesSeth Godin