Last weekend we celebrated Labor Day here in the U.S. And I definitely enjoyed some downtime, filled with BBQs and dancing. I also spent a portion of the holiday weekend working — practicing for my upcoming multi-city (workshop) tour; working on the initial draft of what you’re reading; and giving some “love” to one of my unfinished projects. (You didn’t think this series was just for you, did you?!)
This particular project has been on my to-do list for awhile. While valid, my reason for not working on it sooner was…you guessed it: time.
For as often as you’ve heard me say, “you don’t manage money so much as you manage your choices around money,” you’ve probably heard others – especially productivity and time management experts and enthusiasts – say, “you don’t manage time.”
And just as there are some universal truths where money is concerned, like 2+2 will always equal 4, or it is better to buy low and sell high. There is a universal truth about time, and it’s one you’ve likely heard before, too. Each week gives you and me the same number of hours with which to work: 168.
Yet, most of us feel stretched and wish we had more time to get the things we want to get done – done. Somehow, 168 hours doesn’t always feel like enough time to do both what you need to do, as well as what you want to do. Or, is that just me?!
So last weekend I decided to practice one of the habits I often suggest to my clients when they resist doing a particular task I recommend, which is to “just do something for 15-minutes.” Because my project included building a database, on an unfamiliar platform, I said to myself, “…let me spend an hour fiddling around with this.” That 60-minutes turned into four hours. I was on a roll and hooked!
This project still isn’t in my “done” column – by any stretch. However, I am getting closer and it feels pretty darn awesome! All because I stopped waiting for there to be more time. I stopped waiting for one-day, some day.
Why do we wait for more time?
I have a theory as to why you and I “choose” to wait for more time. We’ve been seduced into thinking that (a) you can actually manage time, and (b) you can make more of it. Despite the many instances this has been proven to be untrue!
You wait because…
You have an “all or nothing” attitude
Even though the nature of any project is that it is a work in progress with multiple stages, you and I tend to bring an instant gratification attitude to many of our projects. So, if you can’t finish it quickly, you opt not to do anything at all.
You lost sight of the project’s goal
Your project got started because it was connected to some future vision you have of yourself. For example, you want to get rid of clutter because you see yourself as an organized person; you want to paint to tap into the artist within; you want to (fill in the blank).
So, at first, you were really excited to get started. But maybe you hit an impasse that came in the form of a question that you couldn’t immediately answer. Or, maybe you ran out of discretionary income. Or, maybe you had a family crisis. Or, maybe you hit the point where you can’t take the next step without some help. Or, maybe… Whatever interrupted your flow has not only stopped you in your tracks, it has also blinded you as to why this project was initially important to you in the first place.
You’re hoping for a mind reader
You know when you’ve reached your capacity to do it alone. Maybe you need someone else’s expertise. Maybe you just need someone’s presence. But, you haven’t raised your proverbial hand and asked for help – either because you haven’t figured out who can best help you. Or, you know “who,” but you’re hoping they’ll see your need and offer.
You truly believe you’ll have more time in the future
The first and last points played a key role in why it took me months to revisit this particular unfinished project. I lost sight of the fact that you don’t control time; you control your choices as they relate to how you use your time. Huge difference!
Surprise #1 Taking action on my project energized me in ways I could not have imagined; how else do you explain 60-minutes turning into four hours?! Those hours fueled my shift from a “one-day, some day” mindset to (finally) putting together a goal-based timeline so I can keep the momentum going with this project and eventually get to the place of “done”.
And in case you missed it, energy – whether high or low – is an important clue. Remember to pay attention to the relationship between your “energy” and your projects. Sometimes, it pays to push through the resistance; other times, that resistance is telling you to pause or stop all together.
Surprise #2 Turns out that moving the needle on this project was critical for reasons that extend beyond the project itself. As I shared with a friend, I want more! Moving the needle represented me taking action to make room for more. Like I also said to this friend, “it’s hard to have more if what you currently have isn’t working; it blocks you.”
My first ask of you is this: What do you want more of in your life?
I bet all sorts of stuff (I know…so eloquent, right?!) started to bubble up for you. As you think about what you want more of, I suspect a spotlight is shining brightly on your relationship between time and commitments. Because it begs the question of what (and how) are you willing to change in order to, indeed, have more?
Now consider this, my second ask: Whatever “more” means to/for you, in what ways are your unfinished projects preventing you from having more?
The over-looked problem with one-day, some day thinking is that it allows “busy time” to prevent you from creating more in your life.
Here’s another ask of you: What would it take for you to commit to not letting this upcoming week come to an end without you giving one of your unfinished projects some attention, so you create the space for more? Be it 15-minutes, 60-minutes, or four hours!
And don’t get caught up in trying to decide which project – maybe it’s a project in your physical space, or it’s on your to-do list or hanging out in your head. Just choose one (and pay attention to your energy).
This is definitely a case of anyone will do -:) Because the magic that happens from taking action isn’t dependent upon a specific project!
To have more, you have to create space. To create space, you have to…create space. To do that, you have to address those unfinished projects.
The relationship between time, space, commitments and unfinished projects is so very, very meta, isn’t it?!
p.s. Here’s one more ask of you: Please tell a friend about the upcoming Comfort Circle™ dinner. It is scheduled for Monday, September 24th at 6:30pm. During this dinner, we will explore what isn’t complete (and why) and tap into the power of a game-plan to make progress so you can finish the year strong(er)! To learn more and/or to RSVP, click here.