It’s Time to Reclaim Your Time
I feel like I’ve written about our society’s distorted relationship with time in the past, but the fact is that “I don’t have enough time” is a common refrain heard throughout the world these days. It’s used in a variety of contexts, in relation to a myriad of tasks. The over-riding message is the same: I’m too busy to do whatever it is that I’m being asked to do in this moment.
I get it. Time often feels like it runs away from me as well. There is a lot on my plate and creating time to tackle it all can seem like an arduous task at best, an impossibility at worst.
The idea that you don’t have time, however, is a lie. And it’s time for you to understand that lie, and then reclaim what you’ve unwittingly given away.
You see, while time can seem finite, the fact is that we all have the same amount. We all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. That’s how it works. The question isn’t how much you’ve got; the question is how you relate to it, and how willing you are to prioritize the things that matter to you.
Any way you slice it, you’ve only got so much time to invest. The key to investing wisely is to know what is important to you -- what your priorities are, as it were -- and actually MAKE those priorities fit. Because when you say “I don’t have time for (fill in the blank)” what you’re actually saying is that “(fill in the blank) is not a priority for me.”
This perspective shift can cause you to stop in your tracks, right? Because when you start to fill in that blank with the things you typically say you don’t have time for, -- going to the gym, having coffee with a friend, seeing the doctor, cooking meals for your family, or whatever else -- it can feel a little (or a lot) icky. Is having coffee with a friend really not a priority? Is cooking a meal really not a priority? What about going to the doctor? Answer truthfully!
If these aren’t actual priorities for you, fair enough. Stop tripping over the idea that you don’t have time and be honest -- this is not something you’re willing to make time for. If these are priorities, however, it’s time for you to do some shifting. Cut out the non-priorities that have somehow slipped into your day -- scrolling through facebook, endless paper-shuffling, answering every text that dings on your phone every moment of every day -- and reclaim that time.
Now, this is the moment where somebody inevitably tries to argue about how important they are, how they HAVE to answer emails because they hold such responsibility and the office will fall apart if they don’t. Fair enough. This may be true -- sometimes. Rest assured, it’s not true all of the time. And setting some appropriate boundaries can help you here. Have a policy about when you will and won’t return emails (e.g., between the hours of 9 am - 7 pm each day; never after 10 pm -- whatever works for your circumstance); have a reasonable time frame within which you will respond to texts (e.g, within 4 hours); assign someone to be your proxy if you are going to be away on vacation or at a doctor’s appointment. Trust me when I say, nobody -- not even you -- is indispensable (as good as it might feel to believe that you are).
Bottom-line: Stop buying into the “I don’t have time” myth. That’s all it is; a myth. Understand , instead that your relationship with time is a function of how willing you are to honour the things that matter to you. Figure out your priorities and you can reclaim all the time you’ll ever need.