Dear Running Out Of Time;
As you have noticed the person who told you things would slow down after you got out of college lied to you. Don’t believe the crazy people.
How do you fit it all in? The unfortunate truth is you don’t. You can be or do anything you desire. You can’t be or do everything you desire. There’s a critical difference between the two.
Cliché alert. Before you start climbing the ladder you have to make sure the ladder is against the right wall.
There are two aspects of time management. Macro time management a.k.a. the big picture. Micro time management a.k.a. the details.
Macro Level Time Management.
You’re going to have to make decisions about what’s important and what isn’t important in the sense of the big picture. The macro time management opportunities you presented in your email are as follows:
- Spending time with family.
- Spending time with friends.
- Working a full-time job.
- Starting a business.
- Maintaining physical health. Eating right and exercising are subsets of this one.
- Pet ownership. Walking the dog is a subset of this.
- Maintaining a romantic relationship. Spending time with the girlfriend is a subset of this one.
I’m sure you have other macro level time management opportunities. Make a list of them and assess each one individually. You have to ask yourself “given where I am and given where I want to be is this an intelligent use of my finite time and resources.” Ask yourself this question for each opportunity on the list.
You may notice this requires you to have an idea of where you are currently in regards to resources and where you’re trying to go with your life. You may need to go on a little fact-finding mission to accumulate that data. Take the time to do it.
An important skill you will need to develop is the ability to say “no”. If you take on too many things you will indeed find yourself floundering. You can attempt seven accomplishments and succeed at six of them or you can attempt twenty accomplishments and succeed at three of them.
Micro Level Time Management.
Once you have evaluated your macro level opportunities and chosen the ones you want to pursue you have to look at the subsets of activity each requires. Let’s use pet ownership as an example. The micro level details of pet ownership are:
Providing exercise opportunities for the dog.
- Cleaning the dog.
- Spending time with the dog.
- Feeding the dog.
- Cleaning the dog bowl.
- Buying food for the dog.
- Taking the dog to the vet.
- Arranging for someone else to take care of the dog when you’re out of town or unable to do so.
- Acquiring financial resources to buy food for the dog and take the dog to the vet.
- Picking up dog poop.
Go through each of your macro time management opportunities and make a list of the micro level details. Once done with this you should have about 30 or 40 pieces of paper and you should feel more overwhelmed than ever.
Pretty damn helpful aren’t I?
Now you know what you’re up against. At this point re-evaluate your macro level commitments and toss out any that are unrealistic. Now you know what you need to do.
Getting Things Done.
Everything takes twice as long to accomplish as you think it will. Plan for this. You think walking the dog only takes 30 minutes. Wrong.
You have to put on your coat. You have to find the leash. You have to find the dog. You have to find your keys. You have to go outside and lock the door. You have to remember you forgot your hat, unlock the door, let go of the dog leash, find your hat, catch the dog, go outside, and lock the door again. While walking the dog you are going to run into another person you want to talk to. The dog going to run into another dog he wants to talk to.
It only takes 30 minutes to walk the dog in Unicorn Land. You don’t live in Unicorn Land.
Don’t multi-task. I know you think you’re doing two things at once and you’re being effective. You’re not. When you multi-task what you’re doing is failing at two things at once. Put all your effort and attention into accomplishing the task at hand and you’ll get it done faster and better.
Don’t be afraid to abandon something you thought was important. Once people start down a path we feel a need to follow through. This isn’t a bad thing but sometimes you begin and realize you’re not as passionate about it as you thought you were or perhaps you have the passion but you simply don’t have the time.
Let it go and don’t feel bad about letting it go. Next time, say “no”.
Outsourcing, streamlining and time-saving tools.
What can you outsource? If you’re going to start a business you’re going to need to start outsourcing things pretty quick. Especially if you’re going to be working full time while starting the business.
Streamline your systems. If there’s a task that you perform over and over find a way to streamline and create a system. Harness the power of repetition to become faster and more efficient.
Find time-saving tools that work for you and apply them. I’m writing this post using voice recognition software.
Meditation. If you think you don’t have time for meditation that’s when you need to meditate.
I’m not saying don’t watch TV. I’m saying cut your current TV time down to 25%. I’m not saying don’t play computer games. I’m saying cut your computer game time down to 25%. Everything in your life that does not directly contribute to an achievement you seek – reduce your time spent on that activity by 75%. Reading newspapers and watching the news should be eliminated entirely.
To have more time in the future you’re going to have to commit some time in the present. Here’s your reading list. Less TV. More books.
First Things First by Stephen R. Covey
Power of An Hour: Business and Life Mastery in One Hour A Week by Dave Lakhani
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Fuck, Yes!: A Guide to the Happy Acceptance of Everything by Reverend Wing F. Fing