Stop lying about time. If your time isn’t yours then neither is your life.

I reached a bit of a peak (or rather a valley) in the last couple months feeling unproductive, forgetful, sluggish, aimless, sleeping badly and even not “finding” time to train. I felt harried.  Not all the time, mind you. But this was a trend I was experiencing. It frustrated me.

I felt like my mind was being glossed over and the color of the paint was called “Meh”.

I had plenty to do, and felt like nothing actually got done.

I turned to more to do lists, more mental lectures about what I should do and would doggedly check off what was supposed to happen. Of course, that didn’t work. I felt like I couldn’t force my brain to focus. Training, what I loved, was losing it’s interest. That was shocking to me.  I realized my whole mental strategy needed some rewiring. I had mind “viruses” that were impeding my ability to do what I wanted for myself. I missed appointments, and that stressed me out incredibly. I would forget important things to the point that I told a friend I was legitimately worried about my brain. I’d go to bed early, and still wake up tired. I would set three successive alarms, and still only drag myself out of bed with minutes to spare.

I have talked a lot about this stuff with a friend, and he mentioned off and on that he had listened to Tony Robbin’s stuff and found it very useful and applicable. To both managing your own mind and emotions, and influencing others. Mind fucking yourself so to speak. I realized I needed a mind fuck. Cause something wasn’t right.

So I just started listening on Youtube. And I came across one of his book series (a long one) that I have been working through. This concept of getting more “time” to spend really hit me. Especially how he broke it down (it’s linked at the bottom). He said something I really connected with about how to *get* more time, and what it really means to not have time, or to need more time in order to accomplish something that we say is important to us.

So here’s the deal. We all know the drill of priorities, making time. Blah blah. But it’s not knowing that that does much. Because then we’d never hear that excuse ever again! But that excuse is alive and well.

If you “don’t have time” or “have too many demands on your time” to put towards what you claim is important to you, read on.

Tony explained the concept that getting more time is not a matter of extra hours, or scheduling “free” hours, but learning how to shift our focus to allow more time to be spent on what is important. More time spent on what is important. Not just urgent. Getting more time is about learning to be productive, not just busy. And recognizing actions that lead to productivity is a matter of perspective. And a simple exercise in categorization.

Defining what is urgent, what is important, what is both, what is just distraction. Those definitions and how we categorize them is where we can start finding

“the time”

Here’s the distinction.

Exercise, health, better sleep, time to relax, meditation, eating well etc is rarely something we need to do urgently. Changing a habit or doing more of what contributes to our longevity and health is usually not urgent. It doesn’t have to be done right then. Which is why we put it off for “when we have time.” But it’s important.
That is, until we break down enough in health or energy. Then we feel the pressure to change and scramble to throw money at what will get us the quickest result. Then it becomes both urgent and important.

And even then, our habits have been built so that our energy, focus and what we feel is urgent to do right then, gets skewed. When we want the time, it’s not there. The demands on our life is too much. We see only what cannot be changed….yet something has to change. Those who make changes, never get more hours. They keep the same hours and redefine their priorities.

If time is what our days our made of, and we all have the same, then first thing to do is examine how we truly spend our time. Can we find hours that could be better spent? Not out of “duty”, but out of taking active control over how we spend this universal commodity. Time spent on FB, reading magazines, watching TV is not necessarily “bad”, its why you do it that matters. I use this example, because I like surfing around. I like reading threads, answering comments etc. But if you do that as a distraction, not something that actually contributes (if its fun for me, and I acknowledge that and apply the time appropriately, its perfectly fine, even useful) to my life. Fun is important.

“When we forget what’s most important. We start making urgency most important.” – Tony Robbins

And I’ll add this on myself. When we get stuck in urgent, we chase distraction in place of relaxation. Busyness replaces productiveness and distraction replaces fun and relaxation.

Everything becomes a frantic to do list. And you make more to do lists to remember to remember your to do lists. Your down time is burdened knowing you have a to do list waiting, so you can’t really shut off. So you grab at stuff to make you “forget”. Your relaxation time becomes sabotaged because it’s only about being distracted rather than fully present in something you want to do for enjoyment. Even if it’s something simple like browsing Facebook or taking a bath. Can you categorize where you spend most of your time? Tony has exercises which I found very useful. It gave me perspective.

Distractions
Urgent
Urgent and important
Important

There is a difference between all of them. Needless to say, you want the majority of your time spent in the last two.

Making more time is about getting leverage in your life. If you know anything about lifting, the word leverage will resonate with you.

Efficiency. Leverage. No energy leaks.

Think of squat. Think of a wonderful squat. It leverages strength, and moves more weight. It allows for better speed, less damage, and “fitness” longevity. You have more strength, and you have it easier and longer than anyone else.

Truly getting more time, means getting more leverage. Not just being a “doer”. Not just writing to do lists, and finishing them and then writing another one. Not just finishing rote tasks over and over and then giving yourself more.

Tony says “If you keep getting it all done, you keep starting over again. Leaders do things that are important, not just urgent. Managers or achievers get sucked into that. The just doing. But if you’re a leader, you think up front. You go to the important places first. That’s what gives you the CAPACITY to lead.”

It’s tough because it means changing your perspective.

And you certainly want to lead your own life. Not feel you are a slave to your to do lists, and your busyness that leaves no time for what important in the long run. Stop the illusion that you have to do everything on your to do list, or that your to do list even matters. It doesn’t really in the scheme of things. Start by looking at your time with new eyes. It’s yours after all.

Time is something you are entitled to. The same 24 hours as anyone else.

What are those things you never seem to have enough time for? Can you list them? Exercise, fun, sleep or good meals usually make the list.

That illusive “fullfillng” stuff we look back on later. The whole “loving your life” and “work that is not really work” idea. You can nod along to everything I say and say “yes” and “wow this is true”, and it means nothing. It means nothing as long as you are willing to keep saying:

“I just don’t have time” when confronted with doing something about what matters to you.

Own your priorities. Just don’t try to trick yourself into thinking something is a priority if you spend no time doing it. Or you put token time into it, but no thought or presence, so the time you plan for your priority is half wasted.  “Well, here’s my hour, now tell me what to do, so I can get what I want. And where’s my results??”

You are entitled to your time. But you are not entitled to any results. Those come from investing your time AND your attitude. Capiche?

Leveraging your life means accepting control for every aspect in your power and seeing what you can arrange to get more of what you want. And if you want time, then the first responsibility to accept is:

You have time. You have as much time as anyone.

Getting more is about priorities (what’s important, not just urgent) and then gaining leverage to help take care of the rest.

Things like:
– Hiring or trading with someone else for tasks that always need to be done, but eat up time and mental energy. Scheduling, laundry, cleaning, cooking etc.

– Being honest about the distractions or relaxation strategies you have…..that are maybe just distractions. Are you looking for a way out mentally when doing what should be “fun” activities?

– Or maybe you are in love with being busy (me!!), and make up endless to do lists and things that need to get done, but have real little impact on your overall quality of life and progress. Tony said when he realized this, his ability to switch off, regenerate and ACTUALLY relax shot up.

“Its not that you are less driven, its that you are more elegant. You know how to turn off.” – Tony Robbins

Elegant. What a great adjective to describe a life. Elegant implies timing, grace, fluidity, and a peaceful strength. It implies resilience and intelligence.

Don’t get under the illusion of thinking you are not in control. There are always things you can’t control. Like the weather. Like a long stoplight. Like a broken computer. Like a doo doo diaper. But the one thing you can always control is what things mean to you and the state of mind you put yourself in.

You have the same hours you have always had. And you can fill them differently. But you have to stop telling yourself you don’t have time!

Its destructive. The first thing I hear when someone brings up time is “This is not important to me, or I don’t know how much it is yet. I haven’t thought about it” And that’s ok. That’s on you, not me. I can help sort that out.

But to manage expectations, to avoid frustration, to get progress, you need to be honest about how much something means to you. How much of a priority it really is. Otherwise as a trainer, I hear a lot of hot air about what someone wants. And I’m fine with knowing the percentage of commitment I can expect, and where “fitness” and “health” are on your priority list, because I can plan accordingly. But when YOU don’t understand that, as a client. That sucks. That’s really the only way to put it.

I can’t force-feed you priorities.

The number of hours you have won’t change. Your responsibilities won’t change. No explosions will happen when you stop chanting “no time” to yourself.

What will change is your ability to see your time as YOURS, and act accordingly.

Is your time yours? If it’s not, then neither is your life. 

For more listening:

Tony Robbins: Time of Your Life Audiobook 

P.S. Another incantation I realized I have always said is “I am a slave to my to do lists” or “I can’t do anything unless I put it on a to do list”. To do lists aren’t bad inherently. That’s not the point. The point is that I was using them as a crutch for productivity, without focusing on what really gave me productivity. It’s like why I tell people caffeine is great….unless you are using it to try and replace sleep. Same idea.

P.P.S This also convicted me much more to resolving to be on time no matter what. I am infringing on someone else’s property by being late or disrespectful of their time. As someone who is not the best at being on time, this is a wonderfully motivating way to frame it in my own head.

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Comments

  1. Zak Columber says:

    Joy,

    Great post, and something I have been thinking about a lot lately. It really is amazing how much time we spend on distractions, procrastinating, and then its like “oh shit I have to be somewhere in 15 minutes” and the workout doesn’t happen.

    Something that has been really useful for me in this regard has been meditation. I find it helps me focus on what’s important, and it weakens my desire for distractions by a large amount. It also helps me to be less stressed out… It has taken me a long time to learn that stress does not equal productivity. In fact, it usually makes you much less productive. So that idea of peaceful strength resonates with me

    • Zak, yes! Agreed. The first time I tried to meditate, I couldn’t even sit still for one minute. Now I find I can easily resign myself peacefully to a task for longer. Less nervous shifting of focus. It’s always a work in progress.

  2. Zak Columber says:

    .

  3. This resonates a lot with me, especially about the to do lists and creating “distractions” when i’m trying to be productive. But I need some time to wrap my head more fully around this.

    • Bill, I recommend the audiobook then. Good listening for a Saturday morning. As long as you are not listening to it with the idea that it’s going to make you do something, or fix something, but as like personal growth time to just absorb and reflect, it’s awesome. Just my take on it.

  4. Whoa! Great article, Joy. Coincidentally, I’m just getting into Tony Robbin’s material after he appeared on Tim Ferriss’ podcast last week (check it out.) I’ve heard his name for years but never really game him a chance til now. Amazing stuff.

    I’m pulling some gems out of your understanding and will relay it to clients and friends/family who also say they don’t have the “time” for working out (and their health.) When you realize your time is yours and under YOUR CONTROL, you open the door to freedom. But what you do with this freedom is important. Are you moving toward your goals or away from them? Choose wisely.

  5. I found your page via researching Leangains, and have read quite a few of your articles, Joy. I love your no BS method to shake your readers to reality. This blog was a great read! Thanks for your hard work.

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