Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time in the day? In our busy world that’s becoming more and more typical. Between keeping up with the Joneses and getting the kids to soccer practice there never seems to be enough time in the day.
There are a handful of ways to solve this problem:
- Sleep Less
- Do Less
- Time Machine (Crossed off due to lack of delorean and flux capacitor)
The truth is that everyone is given the same twenty-four hours each day and we can’t change that. So let’s dig into the first two options.
Recently I was reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s a classic and an insightful book for programmers or really anyone trying to focus on “quality”. As I started to research the life of the author, Robert M Pirsig, I ran across this quote:
In a 1974 interview with NPR, Pirsig stated that the book took him four years to write. During two of these years, Pirsig continued working at his job of writing computer manuals. This caused him to fall into an unorthodox schedule, waking up very early and writing from 2 a.m. until 6 a.m., then eating and going to his day job. He would sleep during his lunch break and then go to bed around 6 in the evening. Pirsig joked that his coworkers noticed that he was “a lot less perky” than everyone else.
Talk about making something a priority! This guy was serious about making time for his writing. I’ve always liked the idea of writing a book but I’ve never been quite that serious about it.
How many of us would modify our sleep schedule and rearrange our entire day just to write a book? Do we make anything that much of a priority? If you interested in becoming an early riser like Pirsig, I recommend the canonical resource on the topic – Steve Pavlina’s How to Become an Early Riser.
For those of us that don’t want to mess up our sleep schedule, another option is just to do less and focus on what the real priorities are. I’ve always thought that Leo Babauta from Zen Habits has some great techniques for cutting your day to the bare essentials or how through focusing on less, you can be more productive:
It may seem paradoxical that Do Less can mean you’re more productive — and if you define “productive” as meaning “get more done” or “do more”, then no, Do Less won’t lead to that kind of productivity. But if instead you define “productivity” as a means of making the most of your actions, of the time you spend working (or doing anything), of being as effective as possible, then Do Less is the best way to be productive. Consider: I can work all day in a flurry of frenetic activity, only to get a little done, especially when it comes to lasting achievement. Or I can do just a couple things that take an hour, but those are key actions that will lead to real achievement. In the second example, you did less, but the time you spent counted for more.
This is also called the 80/20 or Pareto principle. Basically focus on stuff that matters! Make time for the “big rocks” in covey-speak.
It sounds simple doesn’t it, but I’ll bet if you look at your day you spend a lot of time on things that just don’t matter. Especially in our modern age with all the email, twitter feeds and Facebook status updates we can get sucked into the never-ending flow of unimportant information. The key is to disconnect every now and then to work on priorities.
When someone says “I don’t have enough time for that,” what they’re really saying is “that is not a priority in my life.” And if the activity is insignificant it’s probably OK that they aren’t making it a priority. But that line should never be used as a cop-out for something that is truly important.
When someone says that what they really want to do with their life is write a book, become an actor, or the next NBA star then the first thing I ask is how often they spend on it. Because whatever you prioritize and spend your time on is what you’ll be good at. That’s the bottom line.
So the next time you’re about to say you don’t have enough time. Consider how important it is to you and whether you should make a priority.
There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do. -Bill Watterson