Ever notice that? Regardless of how much time you might have, there never seems to be enough?
You get off form work Friday—hooray weekend!—poof, it’s Sunday evening and you haven’t really done any of your to-do list items. You get to a period at work when a certain project is about to be complete. Now, things will settle down, you say. But they don’t. Things stay busy.
My married friends will roll their eyes and say, “Oh boy, just you wait until you have kids…think you don’t have any time now? Uh huh.”
And that’s my point. No matter how much time you might have, it is always fleeting and it always doesn’t seem to fit the amount of things we want to do at any given moment.
Nature abhors a vacuum, as we know, and this applies to our free time too. Perhaps our minds fill in any perceived gaps in productivity. Perhaps when we think we’ll have some quieter periods we allow ourselves to be distracted with all of the shiny things in our lives.
There’s the old zen saying that you should find 20 minutes per day to meditate and if you’re too busy for that, find an hour. It’s nothing new to say that our lives are full of more “stuff” and yet we often feel empty—this isn’t a post about that.
This post is about getting to work, in Steven Pressfield style. Get to it! Do the work!
Want to work on your masters? Want to write a book? Want to go to Fiji? Want to get it shape?
What’s stopping you? Are you too busy? Pffft. Look at me. I’m unemployed—no wife, no kids. And I run out of time every day if I let myself. I’m too busy. I have to say “no” to projects because my schedule is pretty full.
And if I am constantly running out of time, there’s no hope for anyone.
The point is, though, that it’s all a bunch of crap. There IS time, if we choose to MAKE time.
Yes, we have the mystical power to MAKE time. We can make something a priority, go without 20 minutes of something else and get it done.
Easier said than done? Sure it is! But I would assert wherever in life you are, it will never get any easier. Bills won’t be for less. Kids won’t get cheaper. Job won’t get less stressful (unless you lose it, whoops…but there’s more stress for ya’).
So, what are you waiting for? Waiting until you get married? Until you have a mortgage? Until your kids are in college? Until what? You’re 80?
I started working on my MBA while in Iraq. I’d take my textbooks on missions. At night or during a lull, I’d bust out my LED headlamp and read. When I’d be back on camp, I’d do my postings and assignments. Sometimes I couldn’t log in because our camp was on black-out comms where they’d shut down all communications. Sure I didn’t want to. Sure it would have been easy to justify not keeping up with it. It was a bit of a challenge.
I helped get a film company started before my time in the Army. We had no money, no real direction, no assurances that we were doing anything correctly, nothing. But we did it. And it rocked.
I was tired of being dumpy, so I started getting up way early and going to the gym. I started cutting out foods I absolutely loved. I dropped around 25 pounds since New Years. Sure it sucked. But when else was I going to do it? Getting up a couple of hours earlier
Now I’m writing a book. It might be terrible. It might be awesome. I’ve never written a book before. It’s hard.
I’m not trying to brag, but I’m just saying it’s not magic, it’s just a matter of starting to do it. People with often compliment me by saying that I’ve accomplished a lot of stuff, implying that they haven’t or that they couldn’t, because of some hangup.
I’ve been busy my whole life. I’ve never had enough time to do anything. Whether it was in high school, college, in the Army of afterward, my life has always been full of stuff. There never is enough time and there never will be.
At a certain point we have the choice to be one of billions who just never got around to being who we wanted to be…or one of thousands who did. And for the record, I’m not there yet either.
After going gangbusters for the past week and a half with seminars, it was time to sit and catch up. I took a look at my notes from the Vegas and D.C. events and started typing them up. I’ll get a wiki or some such going. It’s the best way for people to come and go with the collected data.
I forgot how much I enjoy not having much to do. My old roommate from D.C. let me crash at his place once my second event concluded and he went to work like normal, leaving me to my own devices Thursday and Friday. The hours sort of hurried by as I watched the Twitterstream. Now that it’s Friday, I feel almost guilty that I don’t have all of my notes transcribed.
Not too guilty, though. I am using personal days for these final few days in D.C., so I’m not technically on the clock. If I’m a little sluggish is responding to work email, so be it. The purist in me would say leave the work phone off altogether. But I know it’s better to chip away at the email mountain now than try to climb it flat-out when I get back to the office. For all the “you’re not allowed to use personal sites at work” sentiment that still persists in many circles, I don’t think those particular managers realize how much work life already permeates personal time.
Others do realize that, and it’s why I’m very okay with people taking a few minutes to look up that thing on Amazon they were wondering about. Sure, it technically is “time wasted,” but so is eating lunch. So is saying “hi” to a coworker. As much as I thought the message of “give a little, take a little” in terms of personal/work time had already been established in workplace circles, I’m still surprised how often I run into organizations who still believe their workforce is 100 percent productive between the hours of 8:59 a.m. and 5:01 p.m. Most Internet sites are forbidden. Hours are meticulously tracked. I’m surprised they allow talking in the halls.
People have been wasting time since the beginning of time. Facebook isn’t the problem, attitudes and people are.
Luckily, I work for a place that’s not THAT strict when it comes to logging and tracking every second of my day. I’m allowed to check on social media sites and whatnot so long as it doesn’t affect my productivity. If so, my manager fixes what is a management issue. Cool, huh?
But there is the other side of the coin, where employees also need to know when to unplug. As I type, there are five or six brewing storms that I’m going to be sucked into when I return to work after this little break. I could sit here and fret about them. I could furiously write reports to estimate and try to mitigate perceived risks and problems, even if those perceptions are bound to change and shift. I could, but I shouldn’t. I’m off the clock. That’s why they have a clock. Being “on” too much will burn a person out.
So I sit and watch the sun set, looking over to where the light switch is in my roommate’s apartment. Later we’ll go out and chill with some people. And I’ll let the work tempest brew. Only eight-12 hours in the workday, after all. They can’t fire me for not working during personal time. At least I hope they can’t :p