Need more time? Have enough time to get everything done? Are there things that remain on your to-do list — for years? Stuff you never get around to tackling, oh, like exercising, finding a new job or actually having friends?
It’s a modern predicament many of us face. But here’s a strategy that really works: simply think about your time differently.
Imagine you have 100 units of energy to spend each day. You can’t take from yesterday, because those 100 units are gone. You can’t borrow from tomorrow, because those units belong to tomorrow.
You’ve just got 100 to use today. How will you allocate them?
First, you have to assess how you’re spending your time. Take a pen and paper (or a crayon and the back of an envelope, or a Sharpie and a docile housepet) and write down everything you did yesterday. Start with what time you woke up, when you got out of bed, what you did next, and next, and next — all the way to the time you went to sleep.
Now, remember: how you use your time reveals your true priorities. How did you use your time yesterday? What does that reveal about your priorities?
Let’s say you have a priority to find a new job, but allocated no energy to that pursuit yesterday (or the day before, or the day before). Could it be that you really don’t want a new job — but that your spouse is pressuring you to make more money? Or, your daddy said you’d be successful when you made regional manager, but you’d rather not do sales at all?
When you really want something, you’ll allocate energy to it. Plain and simple.
Friends, it is also possible to use “lack of time” as a way to avoid taking action, or to avoid something unpleasant. If you think that’s the case, look at the priority you allegedly want to pursue. Do you really want it? Are you avoiding something? Is the priority yours? Or someone else’s?
A priority that someone else places upon you is called a “should” — such as: you should always put ketchup in a dish, not serve it in the bottle at dinner time; you should be a doctor and make a ton of money; you should have a housekeeper; you shouldn’t have a housekeeper; you should keep your house tidy at all times; you should be thinner, smarter, hotter or blonder.
When really all you should be is — you. Shoulds limit us. They force us to serve another person’s priorities rather than our own. We depart from who we are in an effort to meet someone else’s needs — which may not allow us to be our best. That, my friends, is the path to unhappiness. Let’s all focus on being happy, and eliminate shoulds. Agreed?
If you look at how you spent your 100 units of energy yesterday and realize that another person took 70 units, they better have a darn good reason. Most of us are ready to help another person in crisis — but when that crisis goes on for weeks, months, years, you need to take a hard look and ask yourself whether the energy suck is keeping you from reaching your own priorities. If so, set some boundaries and re-shift your energy units to serve you better.
You have 100 units of energy to spend today. How will you use them to support your priorities?