Featured image by robandstephanielevy on Flickr
I read recently that “Saying you don’t have time for something is the same as saying ‘I don’t want to’ do it.” I fought that for a minute, because it stung. Of COURSE I want to do [all the things I haven’t had time to do]. When I thought about it a little more, and forced myself to be honest, I found that there might be a bit of truth in it.
What about you? Try this little thought exercise and see where it leads you.
1. Make a list of 5 things you had time for this week
Not the list of small chores you don’t think twice about and not your job, but those [almost] every day activities lasting 30 minutes or more. For me, that list was:
- Watching 1-2 hours of TV with my family
- Reading blog posts from emails, RSS and Twitter links
- Writing responses on a membership bulletin board
- Shopping for and cooking meals
- Tweaking this site (design and features)
2. Make your case
Are there any activities that don’t help you advance toward your main goals? If so, make a case for why it’s important to do them. Some of my
excuses responses were:
- I need to spend time with my family
- Reading other blog posts inspires me to write my own
- Being part of a community makes me feel happy
- We have to eat
- My site has to appeal to readers
3. Go deeper
Ask yourself some questions about each activity and
- Is my response true?
- Do I spend more time than needed on this?
- If I stopped doing this, how would it change my life?
- Is what I want/need to do more important than this?
- Can I be more disciplined or efficient with this?
4. Are any of these covering up fear?
What we say we don’t have time for is often something that we’re afraid of doing or (more accurately) afraid of doing poorly. I spend a lot more time than truly necessary reading other blogs and tweaking my site design. Why? Partly because I truly enjoy it, but partly because it relieves my anxiety about coming up with a topic of my own to write about.
Be ruthless about this part, because this exercise is only beneficial if you are completely honest with yourself.
5. Fish or cut bait
Now that you’ve examined each activity and its true value to you, compare it with the things you want to do and make some decisions. Are you going to give an activity up in favor of another one? Reduce time spent in one area so you can fit the things you want to do in? Or, when you really think about it, are you truly happy just doing what you are doing?
If you decide to keep doing the things on your activity list, do yourself a favor and put the things you “want” to do on hold for a while. Commit yourself to the activities you are doing so you can enjoy them completely. Put a reminder date on your calendar for 3 months or 6 months to run through this exercise again. Your answers might be different, in which case it might be time for a change. Until then, deliberately push it out of your mind.
Guilt and “should”s can drive you crazy and waste a lot of energy. Take a few minutes to get to the truth about what you really want, and then allow yourself to have it.
What activities came up on your list? Which were more important or more scary than you thought? Did you change anything as a result of this exercise?