Time is Limited; But, You Have All the Time in the World

How are you feeling about time right now?

As for me, I was freaking out a wee-bit wondering where the heck did July and August go? How did we get this far into the year so quickly? Because even though I look at the calendar everyday, this week is when it hit me that this coming Tuesday is September 1st. Gasp!

From the conversations I’ve been having, it’s clear I’m not the only one feeling like time is flying by. Nor am I the only one feeling the need to ramp things up and get stuff done – in the immediate weeks to come, as well as before the end of the year. While simultaneously feeling a twinge of anxiety about whether there’s enough time to get it all done.

Can you relate? 

The Duality of Time

Time is an interesting thing, isn’t it?

On one hand, you and I can’t control time. The hours, days, weeks, months and years are set. On the other hand, we get to control what we do with that time. In my opinion, the latter is what can sometimes make our relationship with time complicated.

The duality of time – its limit and abundance – can be tricky any time of the year. It is especially so, when there are more months behind than ahead and deadlines loom. Not to mention, the simple countdown to December 31.

Last week, when I had my freak-out about September, I did what always makes me feel calm: I put pen to paper. 

In this case, I went to calendarpedia to print the month so I could map out all my September events and deadlines. This allowed me to see everything at glance. It also helped me to create tasks for each event and deadline and reverse engineer their due dates. After doing this, my freak-out dissipated…ah. 

But truthfully, putting pen to paper was the easy part. 

If the tick-tock of time is one truth, here’s another:

The experience of time is an emotional endeavor, because you have a relationship with time. (Much like money, right?!)

The way you think about it, spend it and react to it is a reflection of your relationship with time. (Again, much like with money.)

And, it’s hard. 

It’s hard because the emotions kick in when you have to make decisions and tradeoffs, when you have to re-set your priorities, when you have to adjust boundaries with yourself and others. Absolutely none of this is easy. 

Yes, I am fully aware that you know all this already. I’m on your screen today to remind you to slow down, even as the clock seemingly speeds up and you hear me and others say, “December 31 will be here soon.”

Ways to Slow Down

Putting pen to paper is one way to slow down, so you can be deliberate with your time. Here are a seven other ways, listed in no particular order: 

Remove to-dos

Okay, maybe not entirely. But, take a minute to review your to-do/task list with this question in mind: Am I setting myself up for success? 

If you have ten things on your list and only get three done, you’re more likely to feel like you didn’t have a winning day. This is an example of overestimating what you could get done. Or, more frankly, this is an example of not being honest with yourself about what you could achieve in a day. 

What if, instead, you had a master to-do/task list, and each day you chose your top 3-5. This will likely set you up for success. I know it’s helped me.

Change your yes to no.

I did this recently, and let me tell you it was not easy. First, I had to confront the fact that I said “yes” for all the wrong reasons. Then, I had to get honest with myself about my bandwidth. And finally, I had to communicate my new answer and give myself permission to simply say, “I don’t have the capacity to turn something around by xxx.” No further explanation was needed, though I was certainly tempted to provide one. This was a powerful lesson and reminder for me.

Before you say “yes,” do you pause and do a self-check regarding your why?

Re-set your priorities

Whenever you feel the crunch of time, it’s usually because you have several priorities competing to be the priority. Again, this is an opportunity to re-choose. And often this requires getting honest with yourself about what is truly important to you — right now.

Switch up your routine

We are humans. We are creatures of habit, and we relish our routines. Of course, there are benefits to routines. But there’s also one huge problem with them: it leads to operating on autopilot. And when you don’t have to think, you usually miss out on the chance to change your perspective and see things you previously overlooked though they have been there all along.

Perhaps not as eloquently as I wanted, but this is what I was attempting to convey in my piece last week about purposefully doing things you are not good at. It’ll often help you notice things you overlooked when it comes to the things at which you are good.

Watch your language around time

When you think and speak about time pay attention to how. Because how you do so reflects your belief about time in that moment. And taking the time to notice gives you a chance to question if said belief is really true.

Time block, time block, time block

I tend to work in 90-minute increments. But when I find myself resisting doing something, I say to myself, “just do it for 30-minutes.” 

However you allocate your time, create a minimum (maybe for you it’s 15-minutes) so you can get started and move something along. Because decisions like these create momentum and help you move through whatever caused you to get stuck.

Honor your energy

Your energy ebbs and flows throughout the day. So to the extent you can, choose to do your high energy work that requires more of your focus when you have high energy. And do your low energy work (like admin stuff), when you’re at the lower end of your meter. 

Reclaim Your Time

Right now, many people are feeling stressed about time for a variety of reasons. The continuing effects of coronavirus, plus the looming dates of October 1, November 3 and December 31. Along with the reality of what remains unfinished or deferred – in your life, career or business. 

I wrote this post with the hope that it will help you feel calmer about the status of things right now, if you’re feeling stressed.

And to encourage and remind you that a good response to when you’re feeling time crunched is to do what may not come naturally: slow down. 

Because what lingers in the tender middle between now and the dates noted above – especially year-end – are decisions. Decisions regarding what and who you’ll give your attention and energy to, so you can do what needs to be done with the time you have. 

And perhaps in the process you’ll feel less time pressure and more like you do, indeed, have all the time in the world. #reclaimyourtime

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