2 Misconceptions About Time and How You Can Conquer Them
Unlike other facets of our life, we can choose how we manage our time.
It’s incredibly empowering, when we realise how we allocate our time is a strength and not a limitation.
Humans are products of conditioning. Habits we have adopted from our upbringing and schooling naturally transcends into our day to day routine as an adult. For example, lunchtime at school used to be at 12:30 pm. Naturally, after 12 years of schooling, when the clock goes past 12:30 pm, I know I need to eat.
From when we wake up to when we go to sleep, we have routine depending on the time of day. Everything we do is dictated by time. We spend so much of our day trying to squeeze in all our daily responsibilities. It creates so much pressure to fit in time to learn, exercise, socialise, manage responsibilities to work & family — while trying to squeeze in some time to laze around.
So when we ‘waste’ this precious commodity we call ‘time’ we feel that we have failed.
Its because of two misconceptions we have around time.
1. Time is a ‘finite’ commodity.
“Lost time is never found again.” — Benjamin Franklin
How many times have we heard that we “can’t get time back”. This is because, our relationship with time is bittersweet.
Firstly, the ‘bitter’— this is when we bash ourselves for when we ‘waste’ time
When we waste time to binge Netflix (lazily) instead of working on that critical work presentation, we instinctively bash ourselves because we can’t recuperate it. Our mind is like what the hell are you doing?
The second is the ‘sweet’ — we relish it when we use our time ‘efficiently’
When we feel we have used our time ‘well’ we pat ourselves on the back thinking we have achieved a considerable feat.
This is because we believe that time is like ‘gold’. We love it because it’s rare, it’s finite, and it’s exclusive. When we get busier (and have less time), we value spare time more.
Have you noticed you tend to be more productive on your days off after a busy week at work, than after 2 weeks on annual leave? It’s because when we are busy, we value the commodity more.
The irony — we can’t have one without the other
Instinctively, the rarity of the commodity is what drives us to value it. This is a big part of the reason we enjoy the time we spend with our families, friends, partners, colleagues or doing activities we love.
How can you reframe it?
Regardless of whether its Bitter or Sweet — we can’t change the past, but we can reframe it to make us better.
Remember, time is never wasted, every task helps inform us on where we should use our time tomorrow.
2. Time is ‘Money’
“Life is a marathon not a sprint” — Drake ‘Sacrifices’
Everyone’s journey is unique to them. You cannot rush success. It is not about using every minute to get ahead.
The journey is of the utmost importance
Its about being present in your experiences to maximise learning to cultivate brilliance.
Let’s take Albert Einstein as an example.
He was a below-average student, who was often described as a ‘slow’ student. As he aged, he became very interested in solving complex mathematic problems, but it was only much later into his journey that he was able to turn his skills into theories that we use today. Hence, this is the crux of one of the famous quotes:
“Compounding is the greatest mathematical discovery of all time” — Albert Einstein
He affirms that success is a combination of ‘compounded’ lived experience, hard work, and luck. Each of these must align, and it takes different levels of time depending on the experience.
This alignment is different for everyone. People may achieve feats at any time or any age, does not make them more or less special.
Focus on the task, not the outcome
Another great example is Mark Zuckerberg. In a podcast with Reid Hoffman, he stated that he never “intended Facebook to be his life”. For him, Facebook was his starting point, and he always thought he would pursue opportunities elsewhere.
He started with the aim of simply solving a problem and focused on what he saw around him.
What this means for you?
No one’s path is the same.
Its about learning from each moment, over long periods of time, and applying that to your journey.
If you focus on ‘time’ you miss the journey, and your results may falter.
Conquer your mind and you will conquer the world — Guru Nanak
1. Review your values & beliefs
My manager once told me that “work will take all the time you give it”.
I quickly realised that this was true for all other facets of life. You choose to give time and you do this by allocating your time based on the beliefs and values you have.
For example, if your belief is to be ‘hardworking’, you will spend more time at work. But if we take this deeper, when you develop beliefs, you actually develop two beliefs, for instance:
The first is you associate hardwork with value; and
The second is you associate laziness (i.e. the opposite) with a lack of value.
But there are benefits (and negatives) to hardwork and laziness. The harder you work does not mean you will be more successful than someone who works less than you. Similarly, being lazy is also important at times to help your body recharge.
Therefore, the value you have associated to success is therefore misaligned with what you actual seek to achieve. This is likely because your beliefs set associates ‘value’ to subjective constructs which makes it impossible to achieve what you set out to. Who defines what is ‘hardworking’ enough? This is why it’s regularly feeling like you are ‘failing’.
We invest so much time trying to obtain a standard that we can’t reach purely because we set ourselves an impossible task.
If we align our values with objective constructs, such as, ‘learing from your mistakes’. You can determine if you are doing this, because, if you make the same mistake, and have the same result — you have not learned.
This allows you to align your beliefs with how you choose to allocate your time. It leads to more insightful, structured and satisfying development.
2. Schedule your development
We can often be reactive in our approach to spending time on development. We wait to feel down or a ‘sign’, and prioritise other tasks of greater ‘urgency’.
We focus on life like firefighters; we put out the biggest fires first. This is usually the ones with the most noise. For example, you will focus on your next urgent deliverable for your manager or the next assignment, or an argument you had earlier that day or a promise you made to your kids.
It is very easy to put off development because you do not feel the benefits immediately.
Use your calendar to schedule out time weekly, fortnightly, monthly or even quarterly to make sure you commit. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit. Thus if we schedule it, we can make positive steps towards using our time better to achieve our goals.
1. While time is ‘finite’ we learn from all of our experiences. Time is never ‘wasted’. Every second of time can be used as a guide for where we should place more of our energy going forward.
2. Life is not a ‘race’, you need to play the long game. You need to enjoy and learn from the journey.
3. Conquer your time by reviewing you belief system from subjective constructs to objective constructs, to see noticeable changes.
4. Conquer your time by committing to yourself and holding yourself accountable by scheduling your development.