It’s Not “Not Having the Time”; It’s “Not Being a Priority”

How many times do we exclaim, “I just don’t have the time!” However, what we really mean to say is “This is not a priority I am willing to make time for.” Whether or not it is for valid reason, we prioritize time for the things at the top of our list and as a result other tasks fall on the back burner.

A classic example is “I don’t have time to go to the gym.” Now, maybe you don’t because you have to work early in the morning, you have to be up for the baby after work, you have to go to work and work through your lunch break, etc. so it is impossible to get to the gym. Ok, of course these are valid excuses as to why you may not be able to go, but this really just means the gym is not a priority, not that you don’t have the time. You know you can make the time for a task such as this but you choose not to because you can make use of that time for a more important task. And, there should be nothing to feel bad about because of that!

By viewing this common exclamation in this perspective, it allows for us to reflect on the way we are using our time and if we are in fact using it for our top priorities or if we are using it to watch another season of Game of Thrones. Applying this perspective to our everyday can help us be more productive with our time.

A personal example I can think of for myself is “Not having the time to make cold calls for real estate leads” at my part-time job as an agent. It is something I say often, but is this really true?

Well, I wake up around 4:00-5:00 am on a typical day, go to the gym, do a morning routine, go to my 7am-5pm job, take a 30 minute lunch break in the day and get out at 5pm.

Though most of my day is occupied at my job, it is still not that I “don’t have the time,” it is because my job is currently taking priority over my need to cold calls. Furthermore, after work at 5pm, I have this time until about 8pm free to make cold calls. However, I also have friends and family I want to spend time with after work. So what is the priority? To make the calls or to spend time with family and friends? This is the type of question we are really asking ourselves when we claim we “don’t have time.”

Think about how you use your time throughout the day to improve the way you are prioritizing for tasks.

 

Ask yourself:

What is most important for me to make time for today?

The Meaning Regardless of Answer:

I need to make time for X, and at the cost of not making time for X.

 

Perhaps you can improve the way you are prioritizing time, or maybe you can simply accept that you are using your time for priorities, but just inevitable at the expense of another non-priority task.

Not Sweating the Small Stuff

“The attention you give to action should be proportionate to its worth”- Marcus Aurelius

As we spin our wheels throughout the day, we can become overwhelmed by life in general. We rush to work, rush to school, and rush to make it to the post office before it closes. How much does all of this running around and energy spent on these worries mean at the end of the day? Did it mean you were going to lose your job if you were 5 minutes late? Did it mean you would flunk class if you missed the beginning part of a lecture? And would the post office not open again tomorrow or the next day or the next?

How much time do we spend on tasks that truly do not matter? And, furthermore, how much worrying do we do when we do not complete these tasks with perfection?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Think about what is truly important to you in life. Then think about how much attention you give to these important things or people relative to the attention you give to trivial annoyances or tasks.

“The attention you give to action should be proportionate to its worth.” Marcus Aurelius is encouraging us to stop for a minute and observe our actions. I do not think that Marcus Aurelius is telling us to necessarily quit giving time to the tasks we do not enjoy doing, otherwise, many of us would no longer have a job and some of us may never shower again. Ew…

Anyway, what I believe Marcus Aurelius is trying to convey here is the importance of prioritization. There will always be tasks and jobs we do not wish to give time and attention to but it is our obligation. Still, the time and energy spent on these tasks should be lesser relative to the attention we give to what we define to be most important to us in life.

In my life, I can become frustrated with having the wrong size shoes delivered, having 18 of the 20 cold calls go to voicemail, or being stuck in traffic when I am already running late. Events I am sure all of us can relate to being consumed by in one why or another.

However, these small frustrations are worthless in the grand scheme of what is important to me in life. Big picture, do they get in the way of my family, my health and my relationships with my partner and friends? Possibly at a given time, but not in the long-run. Soooo, why sweat it? The reality is that you can return the shoes and get your money back, people will eventually pick up the phone and you will ultimately get to where you need to be even if it is late.

We are reminded that time is our only non-renewable resource, so why choose to spend it so frivolously?

Focus on the three things that are most important to you in life. What can you do differently to spend more time on what is important and less time on that of lesser importance?

Stop for a moment when you observe a feeling of worry. Then ask, why am I worried? And, finally, ask yourself, how important is this worry in my life? If this angst is not regarding the three things you listed to be most important in your life, FORGET IT. It is not worth it to sweat the small stuff.

 

Social Media Sobriety

Today I found myself getting caught up in Facebook posts for almost an hour, which made me think of all of the time we must waste on social media. There are people in this world with the most creative minds and talents, yet social media has become such a distraction, they spend more time online than they do working on their craft or taking advantage of the opportunities. This very post is an example of putting off writing to waste non-value-add time looking through social media. For what? I did not find out anything interesting, nor did it advance my writing craft in any way. This post could have been completed 30 minutes ago if I had not been distracted by others’ photos, videos and posts. What a shame.

What makes social media so addicting? Sadly, it is mostly because it is mindless and gratifying activity. It is easy to do and results in high reward, often. We are thrilled to get new comments, likes and attention on our profile, and to do it, all we have to do is post a picture and a moderately-clever caption. It makes us feel like people like us! There are not many other things in life we can say has high reward and low effort or risk. Usually, high rewards come with a high investment of time, money and energy.

Conversely, we can be putting some energy into a skill we have a passionate for and EARN a return, not be handed one. Doesn’t that sounds more gratifying? …… I know, sounds tiring.

It has been proven that when we receive a notification or like on social media, it releases endorphins to our brains to make us feel good. This feel-good feeling is addicting, similar to that of a drug. We are a generation of social media-addictions and it is an epidemic. For myself, I went on a months-long hiatus of abstaining from social media. I literally feel like I was telling people about my lengthy sobriety journey when I would talk about it.

Recently, in joining the field of real estate, heavily set in social media, so I have been back on it. Ideally, social media is supposed to be a good resource for getting leads, networking, etc. but I have found it has broken my social media-sobriety (we will call it), making it more difficult not to get caught up in its antics.

Breaking the social media habit can only lead to us being more productive and more present in our world. I am going back to my social-media sobriety journey starting today. I encourage you to do the same! Let’s kick this habit and start doing the things worth spending that time on!