Lack of time is actually lack of priorities. – Tim Ferris, The 4-Hour Workweek
Yesterday before going to bed I visit the website of Steve Pavlina, one of the most famous expert in the field of personal development. In one of his article he argues that most people are not productive and that in many cases, in 1h30 it is possible to do as much as in one day of work.
I had this epiphany moment when I realized that in reality I was constantly saying myself that I was too busy, that I didn’t have time to take days off or to rest. In his book “Success Principles” Jack Canfield, another expert in the field of personal development, recommends that we take 130 to 150 days off every year. Those are days where we don’t do any kind of work at all.
Yesterday I make the decision that I will take responsibility for my time. In life, we are responsible for everything and it includes our times, which is one of the most precious thing we have. Yet, most people waste a lot of their time. It’s as if, they were going to live forever and time was not an issue.
I think, it is time that we reclaim our time. We are the masters of our time. Nobody has the right to steal our time without our permission.
I take that decision today: I am the master of my time, I don’t tolerate excuses like “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time” anymore. It is not acceptable anymore.
Most of the time I pretend to work or study but I’m just lying to myself. I read many books but I don’t take notes and forget everything so that I have to read them again. I procrastinate because I’m scared: scared of not being good enough, not being smart enough. I have false beliefs that make me think that if I don’t spend a lot of time working or studying, I’m not worthy or I’m not contributing to the society.
However, in reality, I checked my emails multiple times every day, I waste time on facebook or I lost motivation because I don’t really rest. At the end of the day, when I ask myself “What did I really accomplish today?” I realized that I didn’t accomplish that much. Ask yourself that question every day “What did I really accomplish today?”
I want you to reclaim your time. You are the master of your time. In Japan, it’s very common to here people complaining about how busy they are. It seems that being busy is cool. You have to be busy and if you are not, you have to pretend to be busy in order to show that you are a hard worker. However, in the end, it’s not the hours you put in your job that are important, it’s the value you put in those hours. You can always say that peer pressure is high and that working long hours is the culture in your country, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are responsible for your time.
Don’t let fear steal your time
Many people procrastinate because of fear. They don’t want to work on an important task because they don’t feel confident accomplishing it. They are perfectionist or feel they are not smart enough and start the project late so that they have no choice but to do it in the remaining time. Procrastination lowers their self-esteem. You cannot lie to your subconscious mind. When you don’t do what you know you should do, your subconscious mind will always know it. Create the habit of working of your most important project first. Stop being perfectionist. Start small by work as fast as you can on things that doesn’t matter. Write e-mails that are not important very quickly, practing working very fast on small tasks at home and at your job.
Don’t let people steal your time
You should spend your time on things that matters to you. Respecting your time is respecting yourself. If you tell people that you cannot do something or go somewhere because you have another project that is really important for you, or because you promise your kids that you will spend time with them, it becomes hard for people to blame you. Why? Because, by being clear on your priorities, you show them that you respect your time and thus, respect yourself.
“I would love to go but I’m working on this project that really matters to me. This project will really contribute to XX.
The key point is:
- Show why it is important for you (how it is in line with your values)
- How it will benefit the society/your kids/the local community…
Most people have a hard time take decisions and prioritize things because they haven’t take the time to define their values. You should be clear on your values. What are your top ten values? How would you rank them?
Is your priority number one your family, your job, integrity, passion, justice?
Once, you know what you stand for it becomes easier to allocate your time more effectively.
Don’t let the “I’m too busy” excuses disempower you
When you constantly say to yourself that you are too busy, you live in a world of scarcity. Scarcity of time. Stop using excuses like “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time”. It keeps you in scarcity and you give power to your environment and to circumstances rather than taking control of your life and of your time. Tim Ferris in his book “The 4-Hour Workweek” wrote “Lack of time is lack of priorities”. You are always responsible for your time. If the president Obama can find the time to exercise every morning you can find it too.
Stop using the words “I’m busy” and start reclaiming your time. You will realize that you have more control that you think over your time. You will become more aware of how you are really using your time.
Work by block of 90 min
Start every day by focusing on the most important task you need to accomplish. If you need to accomplish one thing today what would it be? During those 90 minutes, don’t check your e-mails, don’t check facebook, don’t talk, don’t drink and don’t go to the bathroom unless you really need to.
You might say that it is impossible because you work in an open space, you need to answer the phone and your colleagues always come to talk to you. You are responsible for your time. What you are ready to do in order to master your time is the reflection of how much you value your time and respect yourself. It’s all on you. If your priority number one is your family, do what you need to do to spend time with your family.
Plan your day in advance
Plan your day in advance before going to bed. Identify 3 things you must absolutely accomplish tomorrow.
Here is why you want to do that
- To avoid distraction: When you know exactly what you need to do, you prevent your brain to come up with excuses to procrastinate. Each time you put yourself in a situation where you have to think about what to do next, you give opportunity for your brain to look for distractions. You might check your e-mail, go on facebook or watch some videos on youtube. At the end of the day, you can easily waste one hour or more of your time. Be aware of how your mind is constantly trying to distract you (add more tips)
- To reflect on your strategy: Planning gives you an opportunity to step back and look at the bigger picture. Is your strategy efficient? Are you focusing on the tasks that really matter?
- To limit the use of willpower: Your willpower is a limited resource. By planning your day in advance, you don’t need to think about what you need to do next. You don’t need to use a lot of your willpower to motivate yourself each time you need to start a new task.
- To build momentum: Once you complete your most important task first thing in the morning, you feel a sense of accomplishment and relief, and build momentum for the rest of the day. As a result you accomplish more throughout your day
- To increase self-esteem: Many people fail to realize that self-esteem is linked to discipline. The more you can discipline yourself to do what you know you should do, the better your self-esteem will be.
- To boost your productivity: Complete your most important task first and focus on one task at a time will greatly increase your productivity
- To reduce stress: Planning your day in advance and knowing exactly what you have to do will bring you peace of mind and will decrease the amount of uncertainty you experience throughout your day. All you need to do is look at your list and complete your tasks one by one without thinking much about it. You are not overwhelmed by all the things you need to do.
We are responsible for your life and life is nothing else that a limited period of time that we were given. Time is the most precious things. We all have 24 hours in a day. It’s up to us how we want to use that time. I decided that I had enough to pretend to be busy every day, to constantly say to myself that I don’t have time, to procrastinate or to waste time on facebook, I made the decision today that I’m responsible for my time and that I will do what it takes to become more productive and to free time to meet my friends and to rest.
Life is too short and we often waste our time at job we don’t like, we waste our time worrying about things that already happened, that will probably never happened or that we cannot change. We waste our time pursuing things that we realize later, don’t matter.
It is time for us to reclaim our time and to focus that limited time we have on earth on something that really matters to us.
In life is not what we have that matters, it’s who we become. Reclaim your time and focus on doing things that help you become the person you want to be.