Finding time for when you seem to have none
Because there is always time
People often list time as a major factor that prevents them from achieving their grandest dreams and wildest imaginations. Lack of time is often the precursor to remaining in the current equilibrium and status quo. While there are advocates calling for shorter work days and even less of it, certain parts of the world (ahem China) are celebrating the long hours and endless work culture. Silicon Valley is no stranger to 12 hour work days and the hustling grind of start up life.
So where does that leave time to do anything else other than the bare necessities of life?
The quick answer — it doesn’t.
If you’re working 12 hour shifts, 6–7 days a week, something is not quite right and there is a severe inefficiency in the way you’re working. Either that or your overloaded, overworked and overstretched. When you’ve got the three o’s going for you, your mental and physical health is not benefiting or flourishing. Change is required. We live in an age where working smarter is the key to financial success over working harder.
Working hard won’t matter in a decade’s time. Machines and AI will probably replace that factor of human labor by then. But that’s a completely different story.
This story is about finding time — because you always have time, it’s just how you organize, assign and prioritize it.
It’s all about priorities
You can only do one thing at a time. Even when you think you’re able to multi-task, only 2% of the population are true multitaskers. The 98% of us are just switching between tasks rapidly.
Warren Buffett advocates for a top 5 priority list while Bill Gates slimmed down his entire schedule in order to be more efficient by not overloading his time.
Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment. — Robert Benchley
We have a tendency to fill up every gap in time with something, sometimes even unintentionally. We become accustomed to swiping left and right on our phones, turn on some Netflix that goes on for hours and hours, and then complain that we don’t have enough of the very thing we need to accomplish anything in particular.
Having clear defined goals and identifying habituated behaviors that become time sinkholes can help curb your lack of time and create more of it through replacement.
You can’t do everything so pick the most important and rank them. Work on your top item first, then proceed onto the next. Discard all that is unnecessary and doesn’t actively contribute to what you want to achieve. It takes a consistent and series of steps in the right direction to make any clear and concrete progress.
There are pockets of time everywhere
We often misconceptualize how much time we actually need to achieve something. Our day is made up of 24 hours, which neatly divides into three sets of 8.
Let’s say 8 hours goes to sleep, 8 hours goes to work, 2 hours go to commute, food, grooming and whatever else, then there is still a good 6 hours left.
The question then becomes, where does those 6 hours go?
You may delay, but time will not, and lot time is never found again. — Benjamin Franklin
For some of us, it’s spread out in different parts of the day. Most of the time, they feel like filler time — time that goes no where in particular or is bridging one activity to the next. It might be waiting at a bus stop, driving home from work or just sitting at home on the couch. We find ourselves doing something that feels leisure-like, and perhaps it is but how much is that type of leisure contributing to your hopes, dreams and goals?
Before the advent of technology finding its way into our hands, we use to spend those pockets of time differently. Some people read. Some people write. Some people take up a hobby and work towards that whenever they can.
Nowadays, people scroll through their phones and complain about the things they wished they did but never do because of false activities that contributes to being perpetually busy.
Once you begin to identify and recognize these pockets of time, you can begin to plan for them. Want to read more books? Carry a book or two around with you so you have one on hand when the opportunity arises.
Want to learn to code? Watch YouTube tutorials instead of whatever else you’re currently watching.
What to draw? It’s not hard to sketch something quick on a regular basis.
Perhaps its time to downgrade your tech
There’s point in lying to yourself. Chances are, you’re addicted to your phone. It’s not your fault, not really. It’s your phone’s.
This may sound controversial but what will happen if you were to downgrade your phone? What if you went back to only having the ability to text and call people? What if you weren’t able to go on the Internet or play games on your phone? How ‘useful’ will it be? How long do you think you’ll end up swiping left and right to nothing?
Eliminating the root cause can help us become much more productive than what we’re willing to accept. When you learn to disconnect from your phoen and with yourself, you may find that you suddenly have more time to do the things you want to do.
How soon not now, becomes never — Martin Luther
It happened to me. I didn’t update my phone after the firmware failed to install properly. Now my Google App store doesn’t work and Facebook is refusing access to their services unless I updated to the newer version. Except I can’t, because my phone is simply saying no due to being too outdated.
At first it felt weird but now it’s second nature to not pick up my phone and check all the messages — because there are none.
The lack of modern technology easily accessible at my fingertips like everyone else has allowed me to be able to identify the lost pockets of time that went into spaces and places that didn’t matter in the end.
There will always be time — because one always find time for the most important things in life. Our issue is that we incorrectly prioritize this and end up with the things that don’t truly matter at the top.
Figure out your priorities first and work on them before anything else. It’s the only way to beat distractions and help you become more self aware of your world and your desires. The most important concept here is that you are at the center — not someone else’s picture of their lunch artfully arranged.
We don’t have to exist in a Black Mirror kind of society where likes, hearts and various emotes determine our value and our worth. We create our own value and worth by acknowledging, accepting and working towards the things that we know truly matters.
Life is what we make of it and time is commodity. Use it well and with intention or something else will use it for you.