If there’s one excuse I’ve heard more than any other, it has to be this – I didn’t have enough time. I heard it from students when I was a teacher. I hear it from executives, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and my personal favorite, kids.
In my youth, I just didn’t get it. I went to work, came home late, had a bite to eat, relaxed in front of the TV, took a shower and it was already 1am. You couldn’t fault my effort. I was working 6 ½ days a week, making a decent salary and enjoying life. But one day I sat down and did the math and learned that I would be a millionaire when I was 80. Whoopee do. There had to be another way. Working hard wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go, but how could I? I was already tapped out.
It turns out I wasn’t. You see, our minds play tricks on us. The human mind has a terrible capacity for understanding time. How many times have you said, “Is it that time already?” or “Where did all the time go?” We all have. When we do something we love time seems to fly. But when it’s something we dread, it grinds to a halt. However, that’s all in our mind.
To make matters worse, our mind works against us. It loves to lie to us. Let’s say you just spent 83 minutes playing video games and someone you respect came up and asked you how long you’d been playing video games for, often times we’d say this – “An hour.” Not it’s clearly closer to an hour and a half, but an hour sounds better for something we know shouldn’t really be doing.
Our mind lies to us the other way as well. This time you’ve been working on your project for 68 minutes and the same person comes up and asks you exactly the same question, this time we’d say “An hour and a half.” For bad things we round down, and good things we round up. It’s all part of making ourselves feel good. Not only do we not want other people to judge us badly, but our own mind doesn’t want to admit the truth to itself.
That’s why it’s critical we keep track of our time vigorously. When we sit down to work on a project for 90 minutes, then that’s precisely what we need to do. No ifs, ands, or buts. Set a timer and just get to work. No more, no less. And when you’re done, jot it down in your little black book. If you do this religiously, quite quickly you’ll notice your time holes, the areas that you’re allowing to seep away ever so slowly.
But let’s say, you’re one of those unique people who is really super busy and has plugged all their holes, what then? Easy, we need to search for what Darren Hardy calls N.E.T. (No Extra Time). For me this is all about chunking and when I implemented this into my life I got immediate results. Best of all, it’s easy. It’s the concept of putting two tasks together that don’t interfere with one another. The best example of this is Brian Tracy’s concept of Mobile University. Considering that the average American spends about 50.8 minutes a day in commuting, it’s the perfect time to take a lecture. Your ears are free and you can choose to rock to Beyonce or transform your life with speakers such as Dan Kennedy (marketing), Zig Ziglar (personal development), myself (time management), or any number of great speakers that have taken the time to give speeches or record audio programs. I know what I chose.
Another great place to “find” time is our lunch hour. Who says you have to use the whole hour for eating. Personally I like to spend a maximum of 20 minutes for lunch and keep the other 40 open for meetings or study.
Those two concepts alone are a great place to get started, but if you’re looking for one more powerful way to “find” time you never knew you had – Say “No” a whole lot more. We have become a society of “Yeses,” trying to please people. Remember, we’re trying to free up time for you to be able to change your life.
Here’s something I learned along the way, a lot of people take advantage of other people’s kindness and their inability to say “No” to get them to do all the work for them. This was a game changer. I realized that some people value their time, but not others. When I started to say “No” my schedule got a whole lot lighter.
These are just three of the ideas I talk about in depth in my One-Bite Time Management System, but even just applied superficially can have a profound effect on your lives. You’ll soon realize that in most cases “I don’t have the time” is nothing more than a lousy excuse.