Do you fight time? Do you waste it, or lose it, or constantly wonder where it went?
I assume it’s not just me.
The trigger for writing this post is Chris Brogan’s “Finding Time.” Chris is a sharp guy who’s super-productive, but he takes the time to be thoughtful, too. You’ll be doing yourself a favor to read his post — it’s quick — and think about how you can apply what Chris says to your own struggles with time.
But what I want to talk about is the state of struggling itself. When you’re at odds with your time, it’s like you’re walking through a swamp. Indecision, self-doubt, and worry turn every logistical choice into a chore. You don’t move freely; your thoughts aren’t supple. Maybe you stew about it, maybe you avert your gaze, but the outcome is the same: “Where did the time go?”
When this is happening, it is so tempting to think that we’re struggling against external circumstances. But it’s not so. As Chris says, we all have the same 24 hours in the day. (He credits Gandhi for saying it first.)
The real struggle is against ourselves. We make ourselves slog through not only our practical limitations (I don’t have a voice for opera, for instance), but more importantly the impractical limitations we impose upon ourselves with the ways that we think.
There’s good news, though: if you’re wading through a swamp of your own (subconscious) devising, you can stop anytime you want. You can drain the swamp and walk on dry land. In the context of time, you can start relating to this external, unchangeable thing — the flow of time — the same way you relate to the sunrise or the tides: it’s just so, and there’s no reason to rue it.
Once you do this, you can start to look at yourself and your foibles with clear eyes to see what practical changes you can make to move in the right direction. That’s the point where all the life hacks and time-management systems should come in. (But don’t waste too much time on that, either. As Chris says in another post, you already know what to do.)
Otherwise — if you don’t take this approach — you’re set up for misery, not only because you’ll do less with your time, but because you’ll expend so much energy fighting it and regretting it and wondering what the hell is wrong with you.
(This raises a separate question: for introspective people is the real struggle the struggle with self-loathing? It could be.)
Fight it no more. Regret no more. Wonder no more about your failings — you’re probably just fine underneath it all.
Above all, don’t struggle. You’ll only end up deeper in the swamp.
Just move on to dry ground.