“I just don’t have enough time.”
I’ve often wondered what it is about those words that have always rubbed me the wrong way. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not a criticism just for others, because I’ve said those words too many times to count myself.
I think it might be because the phrase ‘I don’t have time’ is essentially a cop out. A way to pass the buck and assign some blame to something or somebody else.
We as human beings love reassigning blame.
I mean, it couldn’t possibly be our own faults for not having clear priorities. It’s time’s fault! We don’t have enough of it! If only we had more of it, THEN we could finally finish all the things we need to do, and see all the people we need to see!
Most of us treat time like mythical unicorn that rides in and out of our lives without warning or reason. Oh there goes the time again! When will it return? Who can know?!
You want to hang out tonight? Sorry, I don’t have time, I’m sooooo busy.
You want to go to the gym? Yeah I don’t have time for that right now.
Here’s the thing:
There is no such thing as having time or not having time.
I used to have a friend that would say ‘It’s all about time and choice’. In other worlds, there is only time and what you choose to do with it. That’s it.
When we we don’t have time to do something, what we really mean is that something is not a priority. There are other things that are more important. Like watching TV, going on Facebook, or doing one of the thousand other things that we spend their time on.
The thing is though, nobody likes to say that something isn’t a priority because it essentially takes back ownership of the blame. Saying I don’t have time for X because I’ve chosen to fill my time with Y is a statement. The statement says that X is not as important as Y, and therefore I don’t value it enough for X to make it on my ’top 10 list’.
Our top 10 lists are things that we MAKE time for in our lives.
This is very different than saying ‘I don’t have time’ which essentially shifts the blame away from yourself and onto the mythical time gods that haven’t gifted enough you time this particular go around.
We don’t like things to be our own faults. Things are so much easier to accept and deal with when they’re the fault of others (or the time gods).
Not to pick on organized religion, but I’ve heard a lot of religious people use the term ‘well I guess it’s just not God’s will’ in place of ‘I just don’t have time’. As in, if it doesn’t fall into their laps without even trying, ‘I guess it wasn’t meant to be’. Try arguing with them on that one. I mean who are you to argue against the will of God!
The reality is this: we waste a lot of our time and in the end we just don’t feel like doing a lot of stuff. And that’s okay!
Here’s the problem though. For some reason we can’t say the words ‘I don’t want to do that, bye’. So instead we say we don’t have time. Which is basically a lie. Because we do have time. We just choose not to use it to do the thing they’re trying to get us to do.
I would like to reiterate. Saying we don’t have time is basically a lie.
According to the NY Times, the average person watches 5 hours of TV per day. When I first read this, I thought there had to be a mistake. 5 HOURS!!? There’s no way people are watching that much TV! I mean, I can sneak in 30 to 45 min at the end of my day if I’m lucky.
But then I started to check around a little more, and yeah, it sounds like that might be true. People are actually watching that much TV. I guess that’s why they even have a new word for watching entire seasons in one sitting:
Recently I had somebody ask how I have time for all the things I do. I thought it was a funny question, because I don’t feel like I do a lot.
Now, let me preface this by saying I’m not trying to sound like I have it all figured out. But apparently if you list all the things out that I do, it sounds like a lot: I run a couple different businesses with employees that have a pretty decent yearly sales volumes, I am a filmmaker that shoots documentary films. I do a lot of sports, I like to make music, and I also spend at least a few hours a day with family as a top priority.
The difference is though there’s a lot of things I DON’T DO. In fact, at this point in my life I I care less about saving money and more about about saving time. Money is infinite in that you can always work smarter and get more. Time is fixed. No matter what you do you can’t ever get it back, or get more.
Again, I’m not saying I’m an expert, but here’s some examples of things I don’t do.
I don’t fix my house because I choose to rent instead of own. If something breaks, I call a number and a guy shows up. Could I afford to buy a house? Of course I could. But then I wouldn’t have a guy to come fix stuff for free for me anymore.
I also don’t have to spend time buying stuff for and obsessing about the aesthetic of my house, because I don’t own it. I don’t really care what it looks like to be honest. It’s not a reflection of who I am because we’re just here temporally.
I don’t do yard work. Like at all. I actually refuse to do yard work. I’ve never seen an activity that takes up so much time with so little lasting gain as yard work. Instead, we live across the street from the beach and go over there most days to enjoy the free waterfront property. People pay millions of dollars for that for some reason when you can have it for free.
We don’t spend hours deep cleaning our house. We pay somebody to do that every week or two. Sometimes people accuse us of wasting money on something we could do ourselves. But here’s the thing: in the same amount of time that it takes to clean the whole house, I can work on my own business instead and make more money than it costs to hire somebody. So why would I spend that time cleaning? It would essentially be the same thing as working for 1/3 of my usual pay.
And yes, before people begin the whole renting vs owning debate from a monetary point of view, this is not about that. I’m talking about time. In terms of time, renting costs INFINITELY less than owning. (If you run the numbers, it also happens to cost lest money than owning as well, but that’s another topic).
Will I buy a house again someday? Probably… when the economic climate is right. But even then, it’s going to be a certain kind of house that doesn’t suck all my time away like our last house.
When I did own a house, my entire March was eaten up preparing the yard for the season. The rest of the year I was constantly fixing things or redoing things like bathrooms or floors.
I also don’t watch a lot of TV. I don’t play video games. I don’t drink, I don’t party, I don’t go out on Friday night. In fact, after my family is in bed, I’ll often work. Even if it’s a Friday night. I love the concept that I can work when I want instead of giving up the prime part of my day to it every single day.
I also don’t even really go to work. I do specific work from home that I actually want to do. That means I do it in half the time that it would take some other person at a normal job. In fact, lately I make twice as much money as when I used to work for somebody and I work half the amount to get it. I really only work maximum 3 or 4 hours a day on my businesses that nets me 6 figures per year. Some days I barely work at all. I make films instead.
Here’s the thing about working from home.
Because I work from home, I save AT LEAST an hour a day not driving to and from work. Also, I probably save 2 to 3 hours a day NOT socializing around the water cooler as well. I remember when I worked at Electronic Arts in Vancouver, I was shocked at how much time people spent NOT working. I went to work to get work done, not hang out and waste time. In 8 hours, I would write as much code as many other people could in 12 hours (I was a game programmer).
And yet… they looked at me funny went I left ‘early’ at 5pm. Only slackers leave at 5pm apparently. Even if I had finished more than my quota of work for that day,
I remember my manager would often come by about 4pm and ask the subtle yet slightly leading question:
“So Clayton, will you be needing us to order in some food for you tonight?.”
In other words, ‘We want you to work late tonight. And if you do, we won’t pay you more, but we’ll give you free food’. Kinda like a slave. No pay, but we’ll feed you.
No matter how much work I finished, there was always more work waiting. I eventually learned to dispise the concept that the amount of hours you spend at work determines how hard of a worker you are. It’s utter nonsense and people need to stop thinking like that. If I finish work faster than everybody else, let me go home early as a reward. Otherwise, you’re only encouraging me to slack off.
So as you can imagine, that didn’t last long. Now I don’t go to work anymore. And because of it, I have an extra 3 to 4 to 5 hours a day. What would you do an extra 3 to 5 hours a day?
I also workout in my garage with good equipment. Another 30 minutes travel time saved each workout. Yeah it cost me a couple thousand to set that up. But I save hours each week not driving to the gym. I also save money on gas and as a result we only need one car as a family instead of two. One less car to fix and maintain. I also spend less time and money trying to look ‘good’ for the gym. A pair of shorts and no shirt is all I need now.
Physical possessions also take up time. Yeah it’s cool to own a boat, but now how much time does it take to own it, maintain it, use it, wash it, and then think about it and buy other stuff for it? Don’t get me wrong, if a boat is one of those things on your top 10 list, then buy the boat! But if it’s not that important to you, or it’s just more of a status thing, then I’d say save yourself the time and don’t buy it.
Notice how I didn’t say save yourself money and don’t buy the boat. Instead I said save yourself the time and don’t buy it. That’s because I value time over money.
I’ve always been a saver ever since I was a kid. I always have plenty of ‘rainy day’ funds available if I need it. Even when I made basically no money as a student I always had ‘money in the bank’. I’ve always lived far below my means. So making enough money isn’t really an issue with the amount of money we choose to spend on a monthly basis.
Time though – that’s the true commodity.
There’s probably 10 other things that I don’t do, I’m just not thinking of them right now because I haven’t done them in a while and I’ve forgotten that people actually waste their time doing them.
The moral of the story is this: when you don’t do time wasting stuff, you have time for other things. Simple as that.
One of my goals lately is to make room in my life so when a friend says ‘you want to hang out?’, I can say yes. I want to have that space.
Space in your life is a good thing. You don’t have to schedule every minute of every day.
So anyway, why am I talking about this? I want you to know that we DO actually have time to do many things that we’d like to do! We just have to cut some other stuff out first. Like the cartoon above. The guy is spending his time holding a boulder over his head to make some shade when he could just go sit under the tree and relax.
Of course, if we don’t want to do something, then that’s another issue. That’s not about time. That’s about not wanting to do something. And in that case, we should stop blaming it on time. We should just say we don’t want to do that.
Take ownership of your time!
Next time somebody asks you to do something you don’t want to do, don’t say ‘sorry I don’t have time’. Instead say ‘sorry that’s not a priority for me right now’.
That way you’re not lying. It also helps the other person out because they won’t keep asking you repeatedly to do something you don’t want to do. Don’t make people guess about what you really like by the number of times you’ve said you don’t have time.
Basically it’s this: think about time as the real currency. Own it, bank it, invest it and watch it grow 🙂