People Management

The Key(s) to having Time

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I have so many things to do, there’s no time”. “If only I had more time, I would’ve taken a course”, “I would’ve taken therapy”, “If only I had 2 extra hours, I would’ve gone to the gym”.

You know who else had / has the same 24h in a day? Writers, elite sportswomen, presidents, tech geniuses. Yeah, everyone else. I avoided giving you specific names, so that you don’t say: yeah, but that woman was a genius, that one had help around him, oh that other guy – well, it’s his job or whatever.

We all have 24h in a day, but you know what gets our attention? The things we prioritize. There is of course a bit of procrastination on the side, a bit of self-sabotage, as I explained here . But most of all, it is about making IT a priority (just replace IT with whatever it is you do not have the time for).

There is a constant battle between excuses and priorities. We often start prioritizing, only when it starts to hurt or when something bad happens. It’s not right. We rarely prioritize out of good will, because we really want something.

Think about what gets the most of your time and how to fix it or simply think about how you spend your time. If you have time to watch Netflix, you DO have free time on your hands. If you have time to scroll Facebook, you DO have time to learn a foreign language on a DuoLingo-like app or to meditate. This is the happy case when the time is there, right in front of you, but you just don’t use it. Take NOW a piece of paper and list ALL the things you do in a day and how much time they take (roughly). Please don’t tell me you are reading “The Key(s) to having Time”, but you don’t have the time for that right now…

While you do that exercise, you might discover that your spend your time (even work time) doing things for others, providing services, because they asked you nicely and it makes you feel appreciated, so why not give them the only resource on this Earth that once spent is gone forever: time.

The second case is the one where you must create time. If you can read this text, now, over the Internet, you are luckier than literally, yes, literally(!) billions of other people on the planet. You are literate, you have access to information and you live in a country with developed services. It may not be the best country in the world, but you have the ability to decide how you spend your time.

That being said, if you’re working too much overtime, stop doing it. If your workload is too much, change the job. If shopping for grocery takes too much time, order online. If the gym is too far, find one that is closer. If you are too far from your places of interest, move out. There is always a solution if you look for it. Cooking food takes too much time? You can buy cooked food in certain supermarkets, food that was made that morning with natural ingredients. Take away 15mins spent on social media and use them to learn a foreign language and do it daily: it will equal going to a class twice a week. It’s the exact same method used in business process optimization: figure what wastes time, then optimize it: re-arrange, replace, change, automate.

There was a time when I didn’t have the time to go to the gym, until I made it a priority. I used my lunch break when my workplace was close to a gym. I used the weekend, when it wasn’t, or the evening. I took the time to observe how I’m spending my time: I was watching one or two episodes per day of my favourite series, then complaining I didn’t have the time to do anything else.  

One of the funniest things I heard, when I was running an enterprise initiative, was people saying: “We have so much manual work to do, there’s no time to automate anything” or another popular one: “I don’t want to be an employee all my life, but I don’t have the time to start anything else”.

A second key is sleep. You should book those 8h of sleep, no matter what. Or at least 7-7.5h. I used to perceive sleep as a waste of time: so many hours doing nothing. But your brain needs it. Our brain has the ability to self-heal and our body the ability to self-regulate, but sleep is key, along with food, water and sex. It’s called homeostasis.

Sleep gives you speed during the day and focus. If you don’t get enough sleep, it might take double the time to finish something, not to mention mistakes made, fatigue, anger, bad mood and other bad things.

Besides, whatever constraints you have, there are so many self-help articles and free videos out there for whatever problem you think you’re facing, that most of your answers are already written somewhere. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Don’t think now about how you are going to solve every single obstacle on the way – this is not a French project 🙂 (wink wink). Just take the first step, see what happens. Fail fast if you have to, but just do it.

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