“I don’t have time!”, “I’m too busy”, “There’s not enough hours in the day”
I hear these words every day and I know it’s not true. The truth is you do have time. You can do your work and have a family and social life and there are enough hours in the day. The problem is not with time, the problem is with you.
First, let’s deal with the issue of time. Everybody gets the same number of hours per day. Twenty-four hours. That’s it. You and I are not going to be able to bend the laws of time and physics. Wishing for more hours is not going to help, it’s not going to happen. So rather than praying for more time, we need to use the time we have each day more effectively.
Now out of those twenty-four hours, we need to sleep, eat and spend some time with our loved ones and ourselves. And that should be your starting point. Too often, I see people starting with their work. Their calendars and thinking begin and end with their work. But out of the 168 hours in each week, we spend only forty to fifty hours of those at work. That still leaves around 120 hours.
Let’s say you also need ten hours per day for sleeping and eating, we still have fifty hours each week for ourselves. That averages out at seven hours per day! What are you doing with those seven hours to leave you feeling stressed out and overwhelmed?
Rather than stressing about the time you have available, you would be far better being strategic about how you are spending your time.
The first step to gaining control of your time is to find out what you are doing with your time. What do you do when you are not working? Your work is fixed. For most people that means Monday to Friday 9 AM to 6 PM, you are contracted to be somewhere or doing something. That’s fixed. The question you should ask is what am I doing with the rest of my time each day?
Now there’s nothing wrong with coming home from a day’s work and sitting down on the sofa to watch TV if that’s what you want to do. But if you are doing that every day and complaining about how little time you have for your hobbies and interests you are deluding yourself. The truth is you do have time, it is just you are choosing to use your time in a way that is not benefiting you.
To get control of your time you need a plan. That does not mean you have to plan out every minute of every day, what it means is you begin the day with the intention of accomplishing a number of objectives. For example, if being fit and healthy is important to you, you need time for exercise. There are plenty of people who work ten hours a day and still have time for a one-hour gym session six days a week. There are people like Dwayne Johnson who spend more than two hours a day working on their fitness and still have time to be on a movie set at 7 AM, spend a whole day shooting and gets another session in the gym in. How do they do that?
Yes, of course, Dwayne Johnson has the money for assistants, but he still only has twenty-four hours a day just like you and me. He manages his time by prioritising what is important to him. Dwayne Johnson understands his success is partly built on the foundation of the way he looks so he prioritises maintaining that look every day. There is nothing that Dwayne Johnson does with his time each day that you and I could not do.
Part of getting control of your time is understanding what is important to you. What is it that you want to spend your time doing? Whether it is working out, knitting, studying for a Masters degree or learning to beat match on a CDJ, you do have time. All you have to do is prioritise it and schedule it on your calendar.
If it’s important to you you will find time for it
The key to gaining control of your time is your calendar and the way to do that is to first get all your commitments on to your calendar. That’s your work commitments, your social commitments and anything else such as medical appointments or picking the kids up from school. These are what I call my ‘fixed commitments’ and they need to be on your calendar first.
I recommend you colour code your calendar. Choose a different colour for your work commitments, family and friends and your personal activities. When you do this you can easily see how you are spending your time each day by category.
Once you have your ‘fixed commitments’ on your calendar you will see where the gaps are for your activities. Now you can schedule in your gym time, writing your future best selling novel or time to spend reading. Whatever you have decided is important to you.
Do this every Sunday evening. Sit down with your calendar and plan out your week. You do not need to schedule beyond a week, our lives are not fixed. A lot of unexpected things will come up. Scheduling out your week on a Sunday evening gives you the mental space to objectively design your week. You won’t get it right every time. Your fixed commitments will change — appointments get cancelled at the last minute or events are rescheduled — but you will have the framework in place and you can modify and adjust your calendar as the week goes on. The important thing is you will have a plan.
The final piece is to adopt a golden rule “what goes on my calendar gets done.” This rule is non-negotiable. If it’s on your calendar you do it. You always have the freedom to reschedule, cancel or delay, but if it is on your calendar, then you do it. If you are putting an hour of study time on your calendar for 8 PM to 9 PM on Tuesday and then ignore it, what’s the point of your calendar? You are only fooling yourself and that is not going to solve your time problem. Sure, if you come home on Tuesday and you are exhausted, then you are free to reschedule your study time, but never ignore it.
Time can be your best friend or your worst enemy. How you use your time is in your hands and if you embrace it, use it wisely it will work hard for you. If you abuse it and show it no respect, it will hurt you. So get control of your time. Plan out your week and use your calendar to manage it. You will soon find you have enough time every day to do the things you want to do.
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