We've all said it.  We've certainly had it said to us.  We've thought it to be sure.  Some of us actually believe it.

I don't have enough time.
I'm too busy.

Admit it:  you read that and thought, "Well, I am!"

You're not.  I'm not.

When you say you are too busy or that you don't have enough time, what you're really saying is "I prioritized something else."  The "No Time" excuse only works in the seldom occurring instances when an individual is tasked to do something that literally takes longer to do than the amount of time given.  Doc Brown says we need to build a new Flux Capacitor, and he needs it completed in 8 hours.  The problem is it takes at least 20 hours to build a Flux Capacitor (trust me I know, but don't ask how I know).  In that case, there isn't enough time.  

We don't manage time.  We manage the actions we take within that time.  All of us have the same number of hours in a day.  We all have the same number of hours in our work day  as well.  Granted sometimes this person comes in early, or that person stays late, or those people work straight through lunch time in order to get more done.  That's how they've chosen to prioritize their actions.  Within the 24 hours we are given every day we need just a few basic things that are non-negotiable:  sleep, basic nutrition, water.  That's probably not an all-encompassing list, but hey I'm no doctor.  Beyond those basic necessities we choose what to do with our time.  We choose what to work on during the time given.  We choose who to spend our time with.  So when we wake up every morning and look at that to-do list we might ask ourselves any number of questions.  What is most urgent?  What is being asked of me by the most important person?  What do I want to do the most?  What most interests me personally?  What most interests my boss?  What is most important?  That last one is a dangerous one because "important" is a very subjective term.  What is important to you is not important to me and vice versa.

Instead try asking this question when you look at your to-do list in all of its color-coded glory (oh, is that just me?):  What needs to happen to avoid severe consequences?  Sure it's not the most scientific way to approach it, but asking yourself this question takes away a lot of the personal desires, prejudices, and emotions that often dictate how we spend our time.  Look at each task on your list and think of the consequences of not doing that thing today.  Let me guess, you don't have time for that either.  That's understandable.  We all have a lot on our plates.  We all have busy schedules.  However, saying you don't have time to analyze and prioritize your own tasks is not unlike saying that how you spend your time is not important to you.  

The ability to prioritize our time and to prioritize our tasks takes discipline.  It takes a little analysis.  It requires some hard choices to be made.  The results may end up being that you have to spend a lot of time doing things you do not want to do.  Isn't that the whole point, though?  Having a job - regardless of whether you are self employed, a free lancer, or working for a company - is about GETTING THINGS DONE THAT NEED TO BE DONE.  It's not about just doing what you want.  It's about doing what needs to be done to accomplish the mission.  That means that sometimes we all have to do things we don't want to do.  It is not good enough to say "I don't have time".  

I often get asked (like REALLY often) why I run the way I do.  Why do you run so far?  Why get up at 4am to run?  Why run in single digit temperatures?  Why run in such remote locations for such long distances?  The answer for me is pretty simple:  because it's REALLY HARD!  Sure I enjoy the scenery out in the woods, and I like the whole fitness side of it.  Those are by-products, though.  I do it because I relish that feeling of accomplishment and revelry I experience when I've gone through the fire and done something extremely challenging.  Why not approach your time in the same fashion?  Take on those things that are most critical regardless of how painful they might be.  Who knows?  It just might be a rewarding experience after all.

Til next week.


Michael WhismanComment