No Time or No Priorities?

“I don’t have time.”

“Yes, you do. You’re simply not willing to make it a priority.”

I’ve heard people claim they don’t have time to do things, literally, thousands of times. It’s the simplest and most widely used excuse out there. And that’s what it is – a pure, 100% excuse. We make time for the things that are important to us, plain and simple.

What’s important to you?

We all start with the same finite amount of time: 24 hours in a day; 168 hours in a week. And we choose how we invest this time.

Time ROI

Most people will discuss ROI (Return on Investment) in regards to financials; how much return ($$) we can expect on a given investment ($$). We can look at time the same way.

The difference is, of course, that we all start on a level playing field when it comes to the investment of time. There are no rich or poor; everyone begins with the same amount.

Do you not have time to exercise? No time to eat well? No time for this person or that activity? No time to sleep?

Perhaps we need better financial planners, which is essentially the role of a coach or personal trainer. They tell us how to invest our time to get the biggest return. If we do not have anyone advising us, at the very least, we need to manage the investment well ourselves. If we find that we don’t have time for many of the things that are important to us, something has to change.

Now, it’s not my place to tell you how to prioritize your life. I believe in individual priorities and values and I believe in our right 2B able to choose them. So, however you decide to structure your life and spend your time, just realize that you have time for everything you want to do.

I’ve been lucky to work with high level executives and mothers with multiple children (both equally busy “careers,” in my eyes) and I’ve seen firsthand how prioritizing time and energy can provide dividends. Some of these people completed Ironman triathlons and others have lost weight and toned up, but both required a healthy time commitment and an assessment of priorities.

Energy ROI

 

In the previous paragraphs we discussed how to properly invest time – but what about the investment of energy? There are some tasks that drain lots of time but very little energy (watching TV, surfing the internet, cooking) and things that require lots of energy (driving in bad weather, presenting at work, chasing your kids). The key is to match our energy output to the task-specific demands.

Let me explain: energy is a less quantifiable term than time. We don’t know how much energy we have, but we all know the subjective difference between when we have it and when we don’t.

The two most universal ways of renewing your energy are exercise and sleep. But there is a third way to renew energy, and it is by participating in things you find intrinsically enjoyable. The easiest way to identify things you find intrinsically enjoyable is to answer the question, “What would you do if you had all the money and free time in the world?”

The answer to this question is what you find intrinsically enjoyable.

Most people think, I would go to a Caribbean island and lay on the beach, but would you really? Wouldn’t that get old after a while? I think this is a default answer not because it’s a means of energy renewal, but because it’s a way to deflect from the responsibilities and obligations of our everyday demanding lives.

So, while sleeping and exercise are the two best methods of renewing energy, this becomes nearly irrelevant if you continue to waste it on things that, in the grand scheme of life, do not matter.

We should stop wasting our energy getting angry at the person in front of us who is driving slowly. We should stop getting frustrated at the long lines when we go to Target and Wal-Mart. We should stop worrying about the weather forecast for the weekend.

Each of these three examples is an energy drain. None of them are in our control. Directly, and possibly practically, there’s nothing we can do about them. I suppose we could stop driving, shop at a more expensive store where there will be better service and less people, or stay inside where the weather doesn’t matter. Each of these three could be perceived as “fixes,” but they aren’t really fixes at all – they’re band-aids.

The true fix is to control our reaction to the events and how much energy we expend when they appear.

This simple fix would allow us to have much more energy for the things that really matter: friends, family, profession (assuming you enjoy your job), faith, and personal development.

Action Plan

Answer the question, “If I could do anything right now, what would it be?” Next, identify whether you’re doing anything to move towards that answer.

  1. If the answer is NO, brainstorm ways you could reprioritize your time and energy to move in that direction. Are you able to identify any areas in which you’re wasting energy that, if freed up, would give you more energy to move towards what you really want 2B?
  2. If the answer is YES, is there anything else you can do with your time and energy to accelerate the process? Be creative!

– Scott