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22 Jun

”I don’t have time”

Datum: 2016-06-22 11:11

I don’t have time”. How often don’t we hear peo­ple say this? How often don’t we say it our­selves? And how many times have we not heard or read some­one say that time is the only thing we all have equal amounts of”, and that we should spend it carefully.

And yet, most of us still some­times expe­ri­ence that time is short and that we did not have enough of it to do what we need­ed to get done this week either. Sure, claim­ing that we don’t have time” could be an easy way to decline when some­one asks us to do some­thing, but I think it more prob­a­ble that we say this only when sin­cere­ly feel­ing over­whelmed and believ­ing that there is no pos­si­bil­i­ty to engage in any fur­ther com­mit­ments — regard­less if we would like to say yes or not.

The piles are mount­ing higher
So why do we run out of time? Because in a way, we do. We can­not do an infi­nite amount of things in the time we have at our dis­pos­al. Things take time, and if we have many things to do, we will have lit­tle time to spare.

Some of us are inclined to always say yes” to every ques­tion or request, while oth­ers are quite capa­ble to fill their to-do-list to the burst­ing point with things one could, or should, be doing” all by themselves.

No stress, and no mishaps
It would be easy for me to sim­ply pro­claim say yes to few­er requests” or learn to say no”, but I believe the prob­lem at hand is more com­plex than it might appear, oth­er­wise there would not be so many who feel such a defi­cien­cy of time. We want to enable our­selves to accu­rate­ly deter­mine what we should or should not do, since we do not want to feel stressed and we want to get tasks which are impor­tant done in spite of feel­ing over­whelmed by the sheer amount of tasks requir­ing our attention. 

This is why we should make it eas­i­er for our­selves to say yes and no to the right things when we need to make a quick deci­sion, and hence give our­selves time for what we tru­ly find important.

Three time-relat­ed things
As I see it, there are three things we need to con­sid­er when deter­min­ing if we should do some­thing or not — regard­less if it con­cerns some­thing we are asked to do by oth­ers, if we are offered to attend some­thing, or if it is some­thing we think of to do ourselves:

  • Is the activity/​task important?

  • How much time do we have at our disposal?

  • How long would it take to complete?

Do this
If you want to aid your­self in decid­ing if you have the time or not, then ask yourself:

  1. What deter­mines if some­thing is impor­tant to you? Most peo­ple have goals that they are respon­si­ble for attain­ing in their work. The tasks that con­tribute to reach­ing these goals can there­fore be con­sid­ered impor­tant. Per­haps you do not cur­rent­ly have goals or find your objec­tives too abstract? Then ask your­self which tasks that rep­re­sent the core in what you do in your work. Those tasks will most like­ly be impor­tant and hence the ones you should focus upon. How­ev­er, life is nev­er black or white. You are of course allowed to do things that are not impor­tant in rela­tion to the goals, but when I am short of time, I pre­fer doing the tasks that most con­tribute to what I strive to accom­plish (mean­ing, those that con­tribute to attain­ing my goals).

  2. How do you obtain a clear pic­ture of how much time you actu­al­ly have at your dis­pos­al? Look­ing in your cal­en­dar to get an overview of how much time you have is one way. But there you will only find meet­ings or time reserved for doing spe­cif­ic tasks, so what about the rest of your time? While we wait expec­tant­ly for the devel­op­ment of a to-do-list tool that dis­plays how much time the tasks will require every day (I still have not found one, have you?), we will have to use a tem­plate. Per­son­al­ly I have through tests and tri­als con­clud­ed that I need at least 10 hours every week dur­ing which I have not sched­uled any­thing. When the time sched­uled in the cal­en­dar reach­es 30 hours, I there­for con­sid­er it full. When this lim­it is reached, I block the remain­ing hours that week. Anoth­er option is that you block these 10 (?) hours of alone-time on before­hand as recur­ring posts in your cal­en­dar (and per­haps play slid­ing-tile puz­zle with your time, as I have writ­ten about in a pre­vi­ous newslet­ter), and then allow the cal­en­dar to fill up after hav­ing done so.

  3. How do you know how long the task will take to com­plete? If you are asked to help some­one with some­thing, ask them how much time they believe the task will take. Or, if you need to esti­mate the time required and con­sid­er your­self a time-opti­mist — dou­ble your ini­tial guess of how long it should take.

  4. Were any of these ques­tions dif­fi­cult to answer? If so, define a to-do-task that describes how you will take the first step towards find­ing an even bet­ter answer than you could pro­vide your­self with right now. It might be some­thing as sim­ple as going through your to-do-list and esti­mat­ing the time every task will take (and make note of your esti­ma­tion next to each respec­tive task). My own next step is to mod­i­fy a script I have found that allows me to export all the to-do-tasks from the to-do-list-tool I am cur­rent­ly using to be con­tin­ued and processed in anoth­er format.

Facts will set you straight
If you now have con­crete answers to the ques­tions I asked above, you will find it eas­i­er to give a more truth­ful and accu­rate response to a request for doing some­thing. You will know if you have time or not. There is less chance that you agree to do more than you should or post­pone work­ing on tasks which you oth­er­wise would have had time for and which are impor­tant for accom­plish­ing your goals. Trust­ing your gut is def­i­nite­ly appro­pri­ate and prefer­able in many instances, but when it comes to plan­ning my time, I would much rather rely on facts.

Is there anoth­er way?
Have you found a quick and easy way to accu­rate­ly pre­dict if you have time for some­thing or not? Write a com­ment to share your thoughts.