Take control of your time before someone else steals it from you.

Your time is finite. Protect it with a simple mind-shift and a bit of will power.

For many, the claim “I don’t have time,” is worn like a badge of honor. We proudly tell the world that we are important because we are busy, but deep inside most of us despise “busy”. Who doesn’t want more time for the things that actually matter? Personal fulfillment anyone?

If the secret to a good life is freedom, then abiding by the clock is the opposite of freedom. We’re loosing days, weeks, years of our lives to obligations that don’t matter, for people we don’t like. Meanwhile opportunities that are personally fulfilling are pushed to the side.

It’s a unique cultural deprivation that forces so many of us to hustle on behalf of others, not ourselves. To never allocate the time to things that matter to us seems insane.

You have more time than you think.

Here’s the reality: You do have the time. You have time to grow a garden in the backyard. You have time to learn to knit or spin pottery. You have time to write that novel, or train for a marathon. The time is there and ready to use, but it’s continuously squandered by indecision, meaningless obligations, misplaced priorities, and stolen from others who value their time more than yours.

Your need to please is easy for others to take advantage of.

Ever heard this one? “Oh, hey I’m really busy right now. Do you mind picking up my dry-cleaning for me? I would be sooo thankful!” Whether its a colleague or your spouse making the request, you’re being asked to save them time without regard for your own.

Look at all that free-time!

There are 168 hrs in a week. 49 of those are spent sleeping assuming your getting an average 7 hrs per night. Then there’s the traditional 9–5, plus an hour for commuting. After all of those necessities are accounted for, you’re left with an average of 74 hrs in the week to allocate anyway you choose. What could you do with 74 free hours a week, and are you willing to say “no” to the demands of others to ensure that time is yours?

If there’s all this extra time in the week, why do I feel so completely strapped?

If you can’t fathom finding 74 free hours in a week, it’s likely because you’ve given it all away. The key to salvaging your time is to viciously protect it like a defenseless cub in the wild. Seriously, time is the most valuable resource on the planet, and yours will always be under assault. Finding the inner strength to say “no” to the demands of others will go a long way towards scraping back those lost hours.

Mundane requests for your time are where you loose the most.

Example:

  • The boss needs you to stay late tonight… Subtract 1 hr.
  • Your kids soccer coach is sick and you’ve have to fill in… Subtract 3 hrs.
  • HR scheduled an all-day training session… Subtract 8 hrs.

We accept assaults on our time as a part of life. The key to ending this vicious cycle is with a simple mind shift:

Think of your time as a currency where the more you give away, the less you have. No longer is time an endless resource to be given away and divided. Recognize that time is your most prized possession, it is finite, and every minute you allocate is a choice you made with deliberation and care.

Protect your time by setting priorities.

To take back your time is to define your priorities (what matters to you). Priorities should be about you. A priority is something that gives your life meaning. A priority offers you deep, personal fulfillment. A priority rejuvenates and refreshes your soul. A priority means putting food on the table, caring for your loved ones, and keeping the lights on. When you set priorities, other demands on your time need to back off (not the other way around).

Just say “no” to demands on your time.

We choose to binge watch Netflix for 6 hrs. We choose to commute an hour to work. We choose to stay late so that the boss can leave early. We choose to tidy and clean before we leave the house. If you value your time and prioritize what matters to you, the above demands (and similar) loose their power. Say “no” to anything that is not a priority. If you need a little help saying “no,” funnel every request for your time through the priority test before you give your answer.

Example:

Co-worker: “Hey, will you be a dear and go make me 50 copies of this report? I’m in a hurry and I would really appreciate your time.”

PAUSE. This demand on your time sounds iffy. Put it through the priority test to determine whether to say “yes” or “no”.

  • Does this ask matter to me personally?
  • If I say “yes”, what will I lose?
  • If I say “no”, what will I gain?

Your response: I’m sorry dear Co-worker, but I’m working on a project right now that needs my full attention. Maybe next time. Now get lost! (Maybe not that last part.)

Summary

Time is a fleeting currency that we as a society give away in spades to please others. Change the way you view your time by giving it tremendous value. By prioritizing what matters to you and choosing deliberately how your time is allocated, you will discover more time to do what matters to you.


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