We all know that it seems life is busier now than it ever has been. We are constantly bombarded with information, media, to do lists, places to be, people to see, work to do, etc. you name it. Most of the people I talk to say they have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Maybe you fall in this category as well.
In the winter of 1928, Maynard Keynes published an essay titled “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren.” In this article Keynes imagined what the future would look like a century later. Keynes discussed that the nineteenth century created a lot of technological advancements such as electricity, petrol, rubber, cotton, and mass production. He also stated that further growth would be just as progressive. With all of these technological advancements, Keynes believed that we would have so much more free time that only those who could appreciate “the art of life itself,” he wrote, who would “be able to enjoy the abundance when it comes.”
Here we are in 2017, how many of you have so much free time you even get a chance to just enjoy ” the art of life itself” as Keynes predicted? My guess is that most of you are saying “I wish.”
The technological advancements of the nineteenth and twentieth century pale in comparison to the advancements we have now. Think about the smart phone you are most likely reading this article on, or the tablet. These two products alone have more computing power than any device or technology that was on the first space shuttle that went to the moon.
All of the studies show that the technological advancements we have made have actually created more time for us. We don’t have the same amount of household chores, we have quicker and more efficient modes of transportations, better roads, more conveniences closer to home, Amazon, etc.
So the question is “What are you doing with your time?” One of my favorite quotes is “If it is important you will find the time, if it isn’t you will find an excuse.”
Research suggests that most of us spend more time thinking and using excuses to justify how we don’t have enough time, than actually taking the time we do have, an accomplishing a task or activity. Is this you?
When is the last time you spoke with someone and you asked them how they were doing, and their response was “Busy.” I can think of two times I asked this question yesterday and that was the response I received.
So what can we do? One of the suggestions I make to people all of the time is this. To understand where your time is going, you have to first find out where it is going. I suggest using a timelog. Track how you spend your day in thirty minute increments. This is simple to do, but I would even recommend doing it in fifteen minute spans for more accurate information. Most people aren’t willing to do this for a very long period of time, because this is just way too much accountability for them.
The other suggestion I make is this. Most people plan their day around a long to do list. And many of you allow that little list to dictate your entire day. However, the chances are you have some kind of calendar that you manage as well. And if you look at your calendar, the most important things are on your calendar. The things that must be done. It could be a meeting, a doctor’s appointment, a basketball game, etc. My point is that we put the cant misses on our calendar and our to do lists are for everything we would like to do. If there are things that you haven’t been doing, or things you would like to do, then you need to put them on your calendar. By doing this you are making a statement to yourself, “this is so important that I will set aside time to get this done.”
I know that many of us have work responsibilities, children to take care of, places to be, competing priorities, etc. However, when are you going to take the time to work on the areas in your life that make the biggest differences in life? My mentor said this to me: “If the parents are ok, the kids will be ok.” If the parents have the right priorities in life, the kids will have the right priorities in life.
In my training courses we have a value cards exercise. There are thirty or so individual cards and each card has a value on it. Some of the value words are accountability, family, work-life balance, integrity, honesty, faith, constant learner, boldness, organized, etc. I then ask the audience to pair the thirty cards down to just two values that represent what they most value. This can be very difficult for some, and very eye opening.
Often in the exercise, I see family, faith, health, etc. I then ask the participants questions around those values. Often times I find that their values, although important to them, are not actually being managed by them as if they are the most important things. Many people are actually doing the opposite of what they say is most important and what they value most.
So we tell ourselves that we have less time than data suggests we actually do. We are unaware how we spend our time. And lastly, we go against our own values when deciding how to spend our time.
We have to quit lying to ourselves and find a way and quit looking for excuses. What is most important to you? To get what you want, what are you going to have to do differently?
Remember that this mythical place in the future where you will have more time, more money, less excuses, more resources, more health, better security, etc. doesn’t exist. The only time you have is now. You have to prioritize and dominate it.
To your success and your future.