Do you know that time is one of the most complained things in life? When you observe people for a day, you will be amazed by the number of complaints you will hear about time. Some people will complain about not having enough time, and some grumble about having too much time until they are bored to death.
Why is it that we complain so much about time? In this article, I will be sharing practical observations about time that will help you put all time-related frustrations behind you and never complain about time again.
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn
The unfulfilled promise of time management training
If you have been worried about time at a certain point in your life or career, then you have already done a course in time management. If not, you have at least done some research and read articles about time management on the Internet.
Sometimes lessons learned from these courses or articles work when implemented, and sometimes they don’t. More often than not, you will find yourself back on the drawing board with the same complaints like “I don’t have time,” “I am late,” “I am under time pressure,” or “I don’t have enough time.”
This experience clearly explains that time management training is not the right solution to fix the complaints about time. Shocking conclusion, isn’t it? I have completed several time management courses and read many books on the subject, yet I did not master time.
Why do people often complain about not having time?
Think about a time when you used the phrase “I didn’t have time to…” ? Do you picture the moment? How did you feel?
Think of a time when somebody told you, “I didn’t have time to….” How did that sound to you? Credible? How did you feel then?
In both cases, didn’t you have a vague feeling of something not being right? I had used this sentence many times until I realized that when I said “I didn’t have time…”, I was giving an excuse for not doing what I needed to do. This realization was an eye-opener for me. I started observing when I used the phrase and when other people used it. I confirmed that in every case, it was just a mere excuse.
Just try it for yourself; think about any two moments described above when the phrase “I didn’t have time” was used. Do you realize it was an excuse to cover for something else that was not easy to face?
This excuse is so engraved in our minds that we find it normal and no longer question it. Is it because we are using it to justify our failures that we readily accept it as a valid excuse from others?
How to get rid of the “I didn’t have time” excuse
After discovering that I was using the phrase “I didn’t have time” as an excuse, I wanted to find out how I could stop making an excuse. I decided to replace the phrase with “I didn’t create time.” Each time I was tempted to pull the reason “I didn’t have time,” I paused and replaced it with “I didn’t create time. “After some time, I noticed that “I didn’t create time” put me back in the driver’s seat of the situation immediately. This made my perspective and feelings about the situation at hand different. Try it, and you will notice the difference.
When we say we don’t have time, we indirectly say that we have been a victim of the time. When we say we didn’t create time, we assert ownership of the situation, and it is easier to do something about it.
Another perverse consequence of using the “I didn’t have time” excuse is that we end up believing that we don’t have time. As what we think defines what we do, we start acting as if we don’t have time. The more we live in that mindset, the stronger becomes the belief that we don’t have time. The vicious circle in which we find ourselves when we are continuously complaining about not having time is created this way.
You break the vicious circle with the “I didn’t create time” mindset. When you are conscious of what you didn’t do, you know what you should do to revert the situation: create time.
The power of creating time
The more you embrace the idea of creating time, the more you will find how it is profound and universal.
When you say: “I create time,” you assert that you have your own time. The idea of creating time is simple but often overlooked. To help grasp this concept which may sound philosophical, let us look at the following analogy.
Let’s suppose you give the same A4 blank paper sheet to ten different people and give them an hour to write whatever they want on it. You’ll end up with ten different results. For example, one may have drawn a beautiful picture, another could have written a lovely song, and we can even have a blank paper as the person may have decided not to write anything on his sheet of paper.
Similarly, we all have the same 24 hours daily on our agendas. What we create individually in these hours defines our time. We have what we make. If we don’t create it, we don’t have it. Simple as that!
We have the conventional year that starts on January 1 and ends on December 31. Nevertheless, each one of us celebrates our birthdays, defining this way our own time and year. Individually we create our own time from conception as a baby and continue till the end of their life. The day we die, we stop the creation of our time.
We can see that gaining the awareness of “I create time” empowers us and removes the excuse of “I don’t have time.”
How can we create time?
“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.” – Golda Meir.
Even though time is materialized on a clock, it remains something intangible. Understanding this characteristic of time is vital to mastering it. The idea of time creation should be something taught early in school. Having this foundation early in life would have helped many of us in our lives and careers.
Let us look at five easy ways how we can create time for ourselves:
By increasing the volume of our actions
“If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take you 30 days. But if you give yourself 3 hours, it will take 3 hours.” – Elon Musk.
We continuously create time with the actions we do. When we are idle, time seems slow, and when we are active, the same time seems to move faster. Let’s say Albert and John biked for an hour. During that time, John covered 10 km and Albert 20 km. The one hour has translated into something tangible: the kilometers covered. What is created in a given time depends on the person.
Take away: Increase your action volume to better control your time. The more actions you will take, the more time you have. It all depends on you!
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.” – Thomas Jefferson.
By efficiently using our skills
Your skills define the value of your creation or production in a given time. “Time is money” is often wrongly understood as time = money. Such an equation is impossible. Only when what has been produced is exchanged and converted into cash can you talk about the monetary value of time. An hour is still an hour for each one of us. But, if the value of one hour work of John is 10 Euros while during the same time Albert’s production is exchanged for 1,000 Euros, by comparison, we can say that Albert creates 100 times more than John.
Takeaway: Know the value of your skills and talent. Work mainly in the area where you have maximum skill value. Invest your effort and energy in improving your skills and your service offer. You will have the true feeling of being in control of your time.
“Skills are freedom. Get skilled up!” – Pat Falvey.
By being purpose-driven
“Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose” – Leonardo Da Vinci.
Let’s say you spend one hour doing a job for which you have no motivation, you don’t know why you are doing this job, and the result you are getting doesn’t move you closer to your purpose. Can you imagine how that hour will be for you? How much creation would you have?
Suppose you are fired up, and highly purpose-driven about a project. If you work one hour in that job, you will get much more results than if you worked in the earlier described situation.
Takeaway: To have reasonable control of your time, work primarily in the fields aligned with your life purpose. Never tolerate deviation from your goal. You’ll get more accomplished, and you’ll be happier.
By completing everything, we start
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” – C. Northcote Parkinson
Having uncompleted tasks and projects gives you the wrong impression of not having time, stress, and frustrations. The more tasks you complete, the more you feel like being in control of your time.
Take away: Make sure you complete anything you have decided to do and start before embarking on new things in your day.
“Don’t stop when you’re tired. Stop when you’re done.” – Unknown author
By making prompt decisions
“Life is about making the right decisions and moving on.” – Josh Rayburn
Every day and every moment of our life, we must decide. Time creation has all to do with the ability to decide. A slow decision-making process can negatively affect your bottom line. Fast and inappropriate decisions can be counterproductive. Successful people always make the right decisions and execute them fast.
Often, people complaining about not having enough time have committed themselves to too many projects or tasks and are not able to reject new solicitations. It is not easy for them to say NO to others. If you are interested in knowing more about how to handle this issue, read the blog post: “Why intelligent use of NO is your most powerful tool to success.”
Take away: Develop your ability to make wise and effective decisions, and you’ll master your time better.
Complaining about not having time is a weak excuse that opens the door to experiencing time pressure, frustrations, and loss of time control. By adopting the mindset of “I create time,” you can get yourself in the driver’s seat about time and will no longer complain about it again.
Create time, don’t try to manage time. You can’t have the time if you don’t create time.
When you create time, you have time.