Let me ask you a very simple questions, my friends. How much of this sounds eerily familiar to you:
“Yeah, I’m just SO insanely busy right now. I just don’t have any time to…
- Eat better/cook at home
- Read more
- Go to the gym
- Go church/pray/meditate/think
- Spend more time with my family/friends/alpaca herd
- Finish that epic poem that would make Homer look like a complete and utter poser
- Knock off that home improvement project”
It’s a pretty familiar refrain, no? I can see a few of my own lines interwoven amongst that particular list. Our lives are incredibly frenetic these days as we seek to balance work, family, hobbies, friends and maybe even sneak in a few moments of welcome solitude where we do nothing but appreciate the silence. Ohhh, if only there we more hours in the week! THEN we could make some magic happen.
One problem: we’re totally kidding ourselves and doing a damn fine job of it, I might add. We have completely bought into the notion that we are unable to do any of the noble items listed above because of time.
What do you mean, I’m not busy? Look at all that freakin’ paper! Paper = busy! Sheesh…
I think I’ve had this occur to me before, but an article from the Wall Street Journal really brought it home for me. Laura Vanderkam wrote a wonderful piece called “Are You As Busy As You Think?” where she brings up some thought-provoking data on how much time we truly spend working, sleeping, eating and so on. Many people will talk about 50, 60, 70 hour work weeks, but apparently the data does not back up the quote figures. We tend to inflate because… hey… we’re competitive and we can’t be seen as less busy than the Joneses, right?
But here is where Ms. Vanderkam’s piece gets real. She writes:
Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets,
I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.
Ouch. Come on now… don’t tell me I’m the only one who felt that one sting a little bit. How many things have I said I couldn’t do because I was just too busy, when in reality, I was just saying they weren’t a priority for me. More than I want to think about.
This is a big reason why I get frustrated with people who tell me over and over about how they want to exercise, get in shape, etc. The typical pushback I get is about time and being too busy… but I know it’s not that, in the end. It’s just that 5 other things are much more important to them. And those could be legitimate things for certain, but it’s just a matter of what you will deem to be important, much more so than just time.
So it’s time to rethink the time rationale, my friends. I’m going to try her test by switching every statement of “I don’t have time for…” with “It’s not a priority…” I can’t lie – not sure if I’m going to like the results, but who said attaining self-knowledge was all rainbows, sparkles and puppies? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Nietzsche, but it has been a while since I’ve read “Beyond Good and Evil” so I could use some brushing up. Maybe that sneaky bastard snuck it in there without my noticing.