Actually, you do have time….

Do you need more time? Do you want more time to do the things you really want to be doing?

Well, some tough love here: please stop telling yourself and others that you are so busy. The reality is, if you don’t have time to do something, it simply isn’t a high enough priority for you. The reality is that ‘I don’t have time’ means, ‘It’s not a priority for me.’

I remember reading somewhere that in the 1950’s a person’s status was indicated by the amount of leisure time they had. The more free time, the higher their perceived status. These days, it seems like it is the other way around. People tell themselves and others how busy they are. It is like a badge of honour. Telling themselves and others how important and needed they are. Is that really the case? When people tell me how busy they are, I don’t feel impressed, I genuinely feel quite sad because I know that more often than not, they are creating this ‘busyness’ for themselves.

Some people tell me that every minute of their working day is taken up with meetings, meaning that they only get to do their actual ‘work’ at night or on weekends. Really? Is every minute of every work day taken up with meetings that you must attend and therefore taking you away from being able to get things done? If so, then maybe you should reassess your employment, or have a good talk with your manager. And how critical is it that you actually do attend every single one of these meetings? If you answered ‘critical’, then ask yourself what would happen if you were sick one day? Or you had a major event in your life like getting married or a child of yours was getting married and you needed to travel for the event? Or how about an overseas trip that you had booked 12 months before? What would happen to those meetings then? Would the meetings be unable to go ahead? Would you never be able to get the information that you might have ‘needed’ from the meetings that you missed? Would the business/organisation be unable to cope without you?  Actually, somehow, they would go on (yes, that is sarcasm you just read 😊).

Look, I have been there myself, so I know exactly what it feels like and how convinced you can be that you are ‘so busy’. Fortunately for me, at the height of this busyness, when I felt so overwhelmed and could not see any way out of it, I read two excellent books (yes, somehow in the middle of all that ‘being busy’ I managed to find the time to read a book or two). One of those books in particular was literally life-changing in terms of managing my time. That particular book is Eat that Frog! by Brian Tracy. I read that book, and literally the next day started putting many of the strategies into place and immediately found that I had more time. Immediately.

To quote the back cover of my copy of Eat that Frog!:There just isn’t enough time for everything on our “To Do” list – and there never will be. Successful people don’t try to do everything. They learn to focus on the most important tasks and make sure they get done.’

The key message I took from Eat that Frog! is based on something that Mark Twain said, that went along the lines of ‘If the first thing you do each day is eat a live frog, then you can go through the rest of your day knowing that you have dealt with the worst thing you are going to have to do that day’.

So, good news and bad news here. The bad news, that frog is the biggest, ugliest, worst job that you have on your ‘To Do’ list. It is the one that you really do not want to do. It is the one that plays on your mind all day (and each night). It is the phone call you don’t want to make, the least favourite of your work tasks (for me it was always my monthly budget update) or the person that you have to have a conversation with (and you really don’t want to).

The good news. Deal with this frog first and you will be amazed by how much time you get back. Time that is not spent using up energy thinking about the frogs that you have to deal with.

I read Eat that Frog! one weekend, and by Monday morning I had turned my ‘To Do’ list on its head. Instead of being so busy doing all the little things that I didn’t have time for the big things, I now did all the big things first and found I had plenty of time for the little things. By the way, the other book I read shortly after this was Busy by Tony Crabbe. I would highly recommend it.

If you really do feel that you are too busy to be spending your time on the things you really want to be doing, just take a moment to question your mindset around how busy you are. Are you open to hearing and accepting that you can take control of your time, your career and your life?

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