When you think about your life do you find yourself wishing for more time? Or do you find yourself saying, “There just isn’t enough time to get it all done.”
What I find so interesting about time is that it isn’t real. Even as I write this my brain tells me, “This can’t be true,” but the fact is that time is a mental construct. This means it is a way we manage our mind around time every day.
What is the definition of time? It the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future, regarded as a whole. (Dictionary.com)
What is real about time is that it is finite. It is one of the things that we literally can not get more of. I think that most of us if given the choice would want more time in terms of days, years and even our lives. Why do you think we wish for more time? I think there are a few reasons: 1. It is finite yet we don’t long we will live; 2. We aren’t making the most of it now. These reasons are why time is so valuable. But if time is really this valuable, have you considered how you manage it and how you invest in it?
Let’s examine two ways of thinking about time. One thought is “I don’t have enough time.” What happens when you think this thought? How do you feel? When I think, “I don’t have enough time,” I feel stressed. When you feel stressed what action do you take or not take? When I feel stressed I procrastinate. So, procrastination is my action and the result from procrastination is that I don’t have enough time. If you examine this closely, my thought that I don’t have enough time creates my reality that I don’t have enough time. This is an unintentional way of thinking about time that doesn’t serve us.
The other way to think about time is to think “I have plenty of time.” What happens when you think this thought? How do you feel? When I think, “I have plenty of time,” I feel abundant. When you feel abundant what action do you take or not take? When I feel abundant I plan, create and execute. Because my action is to plan, create and execute my result is “I have plenty of time.” Once again, my thought creates my reality and experience with time. This is an intentional way of thinking about time that serves us better.
Here is what will blow your mind – time doesn’t change but the way you think about time will change your experience of time.
At this point, you might be reflecting on where you are in your life as it relates to time. How many times have you found yourself saying, “I don’t have time to spend time with my friends. I don’t have time to exercise.” If you refer back to the previous example then your thought will create your reality about how much time you “have.”
To dig deeper, let’s explore what costs you time, what makes time and what you want to use your time for.
First, there are things we do that cost time and there are things we do that make time. This can be confusing because most of us think of time as fixed and not a mental construct. Remember, time is simply a mental construct and one hour feels different from another depending on what we are thinking and, therefore, experiencing.
For example, an hour of watching a great movie feels different than an hour of exercising for most people. The hour is exactly the same but it feels different so we say it is different. Our experience of time is determined by our thoughts. What I mean is time goes by quickly or slowly because of our thoughts about it. Think of it this way, you either spend time or you create it.
So, what are some ways that cost us time? Worrying, people pleasing, indecision, judging, procrastination, confusion, regret and overwhelm just to name a few. One way to instantly get back time is to pay attention to ways that we waste time. This is one way to create time. How often do you find yourself thinking “I can’t exercise because I don’t know what to do or I have too many other things to do.” What if this is just your brain just stealing your time? The minute you say, “I know what to do,” or “I have all of the time I need,” is the minute you begin to create, or make, time.
Here are some ways you can create time:
- Make a decision. Most people get stuck when they think of decisions as good, bad, right or wrong. What if there is no wrong decision? You have the information you have and you make the best decision you can with that data. Remember, indecision is a time stealer. For example, make a decision about when and how you will exercise and move on.
- Plan. Create a plan, write down everything that needs to be done, and give yourself a certain amount of time to get it done. Create a recruiting plan – it does not have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as I will spend 30 minutes three times per week exercising.
- Take action. This is probably the best way to create time. Procrastination is the opposite of taking action and is a time waster. You have a plan so now it is time to execute. Spend 30 minutes three times per week exercising and keep refining your actions.
- Commit. Even when you don’t want to take action or follow your plan, commit to your schedule as if it is sacred. Commit to exercising even when you don’t want to – because you promised yourself you would do it.
- Constrain. Thinking you can do it all is a trap. It is better to focus on one big goal at a time than it is to focus on many small goals. This also means saying no. People are always going to ask you to do things but when you are focused on your goal you know that constraint is required.
Finally, when you focus on the life you want it is easier to make time versus waste time. This means asking yourself a few key questions:
- How do I want to spend my life?
- What do you want to use your life for? What is your purpose?
- When it comes to time, what do you value?
- What don’t you want to waste time on anymore?
Once you begin to notice how you are wasting time, how you can create time and have uncovered the life that you want, it is merely a matter of a few daily practices to keep you on track. Following are three daily activities to help:Write down all of your thoughts – I call this a thought download. Notice what your brain is telling you – what thoughts are intentional and which are unintentional. Is there a way to think differently about your unintentional or negative thoughts?Plan each day. Write down everything you want to do that day on purpose. Be specific.Acknowledge Your Accomplishments. Reflect on the plan from the previous day, what did you accomplish?
Once you realize that your thoughts determine your time, you can design a life organized around what you want and use time to your advantage.
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