Ever have a quote pull you in like a magnet? I saw this quote show up on my Facebook feed last week and I can’t get it out of my mind. It goes, “Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. This quote is by Laura Vanderkam, Wall Street Journal writer and author of several time management and productivity books.
This quote has made be super conscious about the way I think about time. So when I say, “I don’t have time to do the laundry (because it is not a priority), or “I don’t have time to watch the latest episode of the Young & the Restless (because it is not a priority), I can live with that. But try this: “I don’t have time to work out (because it is not a priority)”, or “I don’t have time to floss (because it is not a priority)”. Or, something I heard from a friend of mine recently, “I don’t have time to get a mammogram (because it is not a priority).” Very jarring!
Time is a choice and each one of us has the exact same time to spend each day. Yes, life is infinitely fair in this matter; it is an equalizer. We have the same time as Beyonce, the same time as Oprah, the same time as our hero or role model. It is what we choose to do with this time that makes things interesting. Equally interesting is the phenomenon that time is elastic. We can always find time to do things that matter to us. Think about it. While time is finite, there is always time to be had for what matters to us. It is when I finally absorbed this concept, that I started to see time as a friend, and not as a competitor. It’s no longer about time management, rather it is about time abundance.
How do we know what matters to us? Again, Laura Vanderkam, in her Ted Talk: How to gain control of your time, suggests that we spend a few minutes every Friday afternoon making a priority list, in three categories: professional, relationships and self. Professional is about improving in our career or school. Relationships could involve having a coffee with a friend. Self is about doing something that fulfills you, like playing golf or having a pedicure. She suggests putting 2 or 3 things in each of these categories and making a conscious effort to schedule that into your calendar for the week. Simple, yet impactful.
As I put this into practice, I am realizing that sometimes it means giving up something in my life (that is of little value) to make time for something else. Not always easy but so satisfying at the end of the day when I see the impact on my work, my relationships and my self. No longer am I going to use the excuse that I am too busy. I now know that I have all the time I need, I always have. I simply need to decide how to use it.