To say ‘I have no time’, is to limit your freedom and hide from the reality: everyone has time, and everyone has the same amount.
So why do we hear this phrase so often, if lack of time is not the problem, what is?
It is not that you have no time, it is that you are not giving enough priority to the things you have ‘no time’ for.
Time is one of the most valuable resources we have because, unlike money, it is finite. You can always make more money, but Bill Gates still only has 24 hours in his day, the same as you and me.
(To Read more about the differences between time and money you can head here: Money and Time: ‘Never Understimate Your Work’, A Lesson from my Grandpa.
I believe that this is why we hear this phrase so often: Since we became aware of time, we have been driven to make the most of it, which makes perfect sense! But we now live in a world of endless possibilities. There are so many things we would like to do, learn, experience, master, and we are trying to squeeze this infinite number of possibilities into a very finite resource!
This happens to me all the time: There are so many things that I want to experience and do that I don’t even know where to start to choose. If it was up to me, I’d study so many topics in depth, I’d eradicate gender violence, I’d help every single human I’d cross paths with, I’d go around the world every year, I’d make love more than once per day, I’d read all the books on this planet, I’d learn many languages, I’d spend quality time with all my loved ones every day, I’d travel to the moon, I’d spend my life practicing yoga professionally, and writing and I’d dance, meditate and swim in the ocean every day… And I could keep going and going…
The list of possible to-dos in a world of infinite possibilities is endless. That is why the key to time management is to prioritize.
So why don’t we do this automatically? Why is prioritising so hard? That final question is its’ own answer. Choosing between two or more things we want is hard, we want to have our cake and eat it! We want to be omnipresent, and this (often unconscious) reluctance to prioritise often leads to the two topics of today’s article; Procrastination and Multitasking.
Multitasking is like the answer you would get from a child if you said to them, ‘I have 5 things I want to do, how can I do all of them if I only have the time to do one?’ The answer? Do them all at the same time!
This is multitasking in a nutshell, we don’t want to make a choice or prioritise, so we try and be more ‘efficient’ by combining things, and for some tasks this works! We can all enjoy a meal and a conversation with a friend simultaneously because we can eat on autopilot. However, think about this example, is it true? If you have ever eaten with your eyes closed (there are restaurants where you can do this) then you will know how much more stimulating and yummy a meal can be when your senses are focused on it. Or as a less extreme example, everyone knows that a dinner with great conversation lasts forever, and not just because you can’t stuff your face while talking, the listener will often stop eating too, just to listen properly!
What, we definitely can’t do though, is concentrate on two things at once. When our brain starts to receive information from multiple sources, it doesn’t deal with them simultaneously, it toggles back and forth. Then, when the information becomes more demanding it lines the stimuli up in a queue! And when that approach fails because information is arriving even faster, the brain simply queues up the first two stimuli, and ignores the rest!
So not only is the brain not built for multitasking, you also pay a price, as all this activity; switching between tasks, queueing, uses and wastes valuable energy that could have been directed to solving a task in hand!
Did you know that everytime that you get distracted by looking at your phone, it takes you approximately 20 minutes to regain your concentration?
It is normal then, that multitasking tires you out, and as a result, you lose your motivation as you are exhausted before you have completed a single goal. Even worse, it is proven that when we multitask our stress levels increase due to the overdose of information and stimulus received at once!
Procrastination is another childish response to the situation of overwhelming possibility: We avoid it altogether!
We procrastinate when we are faced with a task that takes us outside of our comfort zone: The awkward phone call, the boring assignment. this time, the task is making a choice. We want to do everything, but we can’t, so instead of prioritizing we delay.
However, if it was this simple, we wouldn’t do it. The things we busy ourselves with when we procrastinate are not bad. Often we enjoy them (having a coffee, youtubing, calling friends…) or they benefit us (clearing our desk, organizing, exercising, washing clothes, procrastinators often have very tidy houses!). Doing these things turns into procrastination when we impulsively do them to obscure the fact that we are merely putting off the choice which will help us in the long term.
As Tim Ferris says: ‘Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important’, ‘Doing unimportant well doesn’t make it important.’
To add insult to injury, our brain rewards us for multitasking and procrastinating! When we start multitasking we create the illusion that we are working more efficiently, we are getting lots done and saving time! Yay! So our brain releases a burst of dopamine to congratulate us and we get a small high. Over time, this becomes a pattern and the brain actually starts to reward us for over-stimulating ourselves.
Procrastination is very similar, the brain notices we are doing things we enjoy, or directly benefit us, and rewards us with another burst of dopamine. Both these habits can eventually become addictive, like a sugar high or smoking. It becomes a habit that is we know is bad for us in the long term, but we still get a short-term hit that is difficult to let go of.
How many times do you check your emails or telephone messages per day while you do other things? If the answer is high, probably asking you to stop doing it is almost like asking a smoker person to quit smoking. The same happens with procrastination, asking a procrastinator to do what it needs to be done and stop wasting time is like asking a person with chronic anxiety to relax.
In the end, after multitasking and procrastinating we feel bad and complain that we still ‘have no time’. So, how can we change these tendencies? This time in keeping with the essence of this article I am going to give you one single objective and one single tool to make it happen:
MINIMISE YOUR ACTIVITIES USING THE ROLEPLAYER
This is a great approach because it attacks the problem early, and the best way to do it is to use the tool without a motive, so from here on, follow the instructions without skipping to the bottom!
Think of all the things you do during a typical week and put them into roles. So, while working you are an employee or boss, with your children you are a parent, with sports you are a tennis player, or a yogi, in the kitchen you are a cook, when you are asleep you are a dreamer! And so forth.
Make a list of all the roles you play while you read this, it takes a minute.
Then, put down an estimate of how many hours per week you spend in each role.
Now you have your estimates . . . there are 168 hours in a week.
Ask yourself some questions: How many hours do your roles take up in total? Are some roles taking up a lot of time, and could some do with a few more hours? Is there space in your week for new things or do your roles take up more time than there are hours in the day!
If you feel you have no time, minimizing or removing at least one role will help you prioritize the things you really love, and keeping your roles in mind will help you see which ones can be minimized or removed!
3, 2, 1, GO!
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Love and Satisfaction,