I don't have time
Does this sound familiar? I hear this from friends, work colleagues, clients and relatives all the time! The other day, a child in year 4 said the same words to me! This triggered a thought- this embedded mindset is a collective endemic and we need to sort this out. LOL!
Seems like people are struggling with time, all the time! Ironic?
Well, I don't think this is tautology (intentional repetition of words), but rather a highlight of the cause of the problem. If we get into a mind state where we sincerely believe we have no time, and we keep thinking this all the time, we are not just locked in a mindset, but we are expending our energy into a self -fulfilling prophecy. Bare with me... We know and have heard the connection between time and money. Time is money. Money can buy time. We need time to make money. Etc... The connections and links are well established, could be challenged, but let's leave that for now. But what about energy? How can we relate it? I propose we look at the correlation between the three- time, energy and money. You see, if we think we don't have time, we fuel a state of constant 'busyness', stress and fatigue which then leaves us feeling exhausted, impeding us from having creative solutions on how we manage our time, and unable to take ownership and control of our choices in how we use time. Now, don't get me wrong, I totally get the feeling of not having time. I don't have that thought anymore, but I had to change my life to change my narrative and alter my internal dialogue. Again, in order to do so the trilogy- energy, time, money was affected, but the effects of the change were worthwhile.
So a few steps for you to look at:
1. Make choices
In reality, you own your time and you own your life. This is freedom of choice. You're lucky - the one thing 'they' can't take from you is your mind. So make choices on how you think about time. When you decide to do housework instead of reading a book, appreciate the choice you made and be intentional. If you do the housework, be grateful for a clean house, take a minute to think how much you enjoy the outcome of the time you spent cleaning. If you chose the book reading instead of the house work, take a minute and reflect on the pleasure you had reading it or the learning done. Don't focus on the option you didn't take. Accept the house is a mess and be ok with it, accept the book hasn't been read and be ok with it. This one often gets a moan from people who say they need to prioritise others and certain tasks are not a choice. "I have kids and need to do their laundry, it's not a choice, not doing it impacts on others, it's not just me!"
2. Don't be a victim of your own choices
Yes, there are things you MUST do, rather than could or should. But effectively they all stem down from a choice. You have kids, you have a job, you have a house and bills to pay- fair enough. You have chosen the life you're living and I am sure you love lots of things about it, so remind yourself of what you love about it and again be grateful when sometimes your time is of service to others rather than yourself. BUT, if ultimately, you want to change your life- then take responsibility, don't a be a victim of your own life, OWN it.
3. Wear your own oxygen mask first
Having said that, maybe it's time to prioritise yourself. In order to have more time, you need to put yourself first and learn how to say no. Most of the times, you will find yourself saying no to your old self on what needs to be done next. Ask yourself, why? Why do you need to do it? And then ask why do you want to do it? If you do it with motivation, you probably will more than enjoy it, and when we enjoy what we do, time ceases to exist, it flows, and multiplies. Your creative energy is positively used and the results start happening. You are no good to anyone if you haven't got yourself sorted first. So again be kind to yourself and you will be kinder to others (your children, partner, friends and work colleagues).
Ok, so the irony is that when you feel you haven't got time, the alarm bell should sound loud and clear in your mind, that it's time to stop. So how does that work? 'Busyness' is a state of mind and it's pretty much the opposite of mindfulness. Tending to multitask is counter-productive, focusing on a single task and being fully present instead is much more beneficial- not only this will be more enjoyable but suddenly a lot of other tasks will disappear. Now, again if you're thinking this is a lot of happy Larry hippie yuppie bullshit, may I challenge you that the time you spent reading this could have been used elsewhere? You've chosen to read this far, so trust me. I should back my point up now with some neuroscience and social studies from Harvard to keep your attention but the main two key points from evidence-based research are: when you stop and take a breath, you rewire your brain, gaining clear insight and being better at problem solving. Now, when I say stop, I don't mean you need to literally stop, in fact the best stopping is the embodiment.
5. Think time with your body
For me, as soon as I hear my brain go " I don't have enough time" I do one of two things immediately- if possible, I play some music on full blast on my speakers and I dance for a whole track (4 to 5 minutes of dancing to a track makes my brain rewire- if I can dance, I can do much more, I can celebrate my life and I can make choices). If I can't dance, I close my eyes and meditate (4 to 5 minutes on my phone timer, eyes shut, breathe into the body). Suddenly, I see the whole urgency of the matter in a different light, I re-energise and become more productive. Others, go to the gym, it doesn't matter how you do it. The mantra is if your brain says you have no time, come back to your body, physicalise time, manifest it. Most often after a burst of endorphins, you will find your priority list has changed and you have less to do, or you can plough through your tasks in a more positive light, feeling confident you will get through it.
6. Get practical
Finally, be strategic. Plan and then let go. Reduce the to-do list into three main areas per day. Within those there maybe lots of different tasks you want to do, but keep your diary simple and have three key actions, intentions you're inspired to follow as the central parameters for your day.
7. Work-life blending
Keep all your tasks and all your fun as one. Don't split work and play. Don't look for balance but look for blending. If you diarise your fun as much as your work and if you are able to connect authentically to those at work, time will become connected, and connections reduce workload and increase productivity. So invest time wisely- that person you spent time connecting to at work by the photocopier might be the one that ends up doing that task you have no time to do later the following week. Time to connect with others is never false economy. Invest time planning your three key areas for the week and for each day, invest time reflecting and strategising. Try not to be reactive, be proactive.