This really is the mantra of modern living. How many times a day do you find yourself saying “I’d love to, but I don’t have time. I really want to do that thing/go to that place/see that person but I don’t have time.’’ Once a day, twice? If you are anything like me it’s a dozen or more times. I’ve had a bit of an epiphany about it, which has really helped to notch down not only how many times a day I say I don’t have time, but to increase the amount of time I do have.
So, here’s the thing. I do have enough time. You do have time. We all have all the time we need. It’s not lack of time that’s the problem here. Accepting that is the first step. We are not lacking in time — and that’s a fact. What we are lacking in is clear priorities. It’s much more accurate and empowering to say I don’t have clear priorities, rather than I don’t have time. Clear priorities are something you can do something about, manufacturing more time is not (unless you are God, which if you are, you know that and will not be reading this).
So, here is how to have more than enough time. First set some very clear priorities for yourself for the next 12 months. What do you want to achieve and how do you want your life to be this year? I have three personal goals for the year and three professional goals. I think this is the maximum, three of each. Firstly it means you get some balance between your work and personal life, and secondly it will force you to be ruthless. You can’t have 25 priorities — choose six, tops, think big picture and be ruthless and honest with yourself.
Done? Okay, so, next time the “I don’t have enough time’’ mantra rears its ugly head, take stock. Don’t have enough time for what? It then becomes a very simple choice. I now always choose the task or thing that is in alignment with and will move me towards my six life goals for the year. Choice between getting through all my email and going for a run? I choose to make time for the run, the email will have to wait. Choice between working on the website or getting the next chapter of my book written? The book every time, the website can wait.
By setting very clear priorities for myself and consistently choosing in favour of them, I find I do have more time. And I have less panic about the things that are not getting done because clearly they cannot be that important if they did not make it to my Top Six priorities for the year. So I worry about them less — because they are automatically a lower priority for me, I can park them or flag them much more easily. You will also find that, usually, those lower priority items are actually coming from someone else’s agenda rather than your own, which again is good to know.
Handy checklist to magically have more time:
- Accept you do have all the time you need if you have clear priorities.
- Define three personal and three professional priorities or the year.
- Choose consistently in favour of those priorities.
- Enjoy the time spent on priorities, relax about what gets parked or flagged as it’s obviously less important.
- Whenever the feeling of not having enough time arises, realise it’s not a time issue it’s a priority issue. Become realigned with your priorities and what truly matters to your big picture for the year.
Right. Column done. Now, I’m off to the pool for a swim!
Louise is a life coach, author and corporate escapee. Visit louisethompson.com for more.