We all realize that time is essential. We all have the same amount, and only by being intentional and ruthlessly prioritizing what's important can we get out of it what we want. Regardless of what phase in life we’re at, we all have similar factors that pull us in different directions; family, friends, business/work, fitness, leisure, etc. These factors and areas of life may cause us to stress, to worry and to even feel guilty for not spending enough time.
We need to change the way we think about time, because the way we think about time shapes the world we live in and allows us to use time as a tool and not a mysterious constraint. It isn't about not having time, it's about setting priorities.
If we don’t measure where our time goes, it’s going to be really difficult to reprioritize and make better use of it. There’s an anecdote by Marc Levy about time that empowers us think about time like money, and it goes:
“Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to used during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course? Each of us has such a bank, it's name is time. Every morning, it credits you 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off at a lost, whatever of this you failed to invest to a good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no over draft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no drawing against "tomorrow". You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and health. The clock is running. Make the most of today.”
The difference between time and money, is that we can do things that make you more money, but you can never create time. We can only make time for the things that are important to us by saying no to things the things that aren’t. I’d recommend reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown to anyone interested in saying no and creating more focus in their life.
The great philosopher Goethe (Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe) is quoted saying:
"Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time."
We have to get out of the mindset that we’re a victim to this 24 hour day and there’s nothing we can do to change it. Regardless of our circumstances, we can make a dent in our goals one day at a time. Small efforts and daily habits breathe life into our dreams and goals.
Spending 1 hour differently per day creates a huge surplus in a year's time. If, for example you watch 2 hours of Netflix or TV per day and you want to cut that in half. Re-prioritizing 1 hour / day to spend on something more important adds up to 15 days in a year.
Think of what you could do with that 'extra' 15 days. Spend more time with your family, more time on your passions, read that stack of books on the shelf, start working out, learn a new skill, start pursuing that new idea or company; the possibilities are endless!
I encourage you to start tracking your time and being more mindful of where you spend it. I've found that planning out my time on my calendar on Sunday evenings helps me make sure I'm spending my time with intention. If you're a freelancer or creative, make sure you're planning blocks of productive work time and not just meeting times. In your weekly planning session, I'd also encourage you to take a look at the previous week and see if your time was spent according to plan. What things interrupted that you can change and handle better this week?
Are you controlling your time according to life's goals, or are your life goals being controlled by time?