01 Mar How to Create Time
“Misspending a man’s time is a kind of self-homicide.”
~Edward F. Halifax
How much spare time did you have last week? What’d you do with it?
If your answer was “none”, you’re not alone.
For the last couple weeks I’ve been fly fishing in Patagonia with my father.
When he first told me about the trip I didn’t really have time.
So I created it.
I used the below to create 2 weeks of free time to spend on the important. Both my businesses were stronger when I got back.
Excuses are too easy to find.
Ask people why they aren’t doing something that truly matters to them and you’ll likely get one of two answers: Money or Time.
Both are excuses that can almost always be dealt with if you properly adjust your priorities.
Let’s take world travel as an example.
Travel seems to be at the top of most people’s list of what they’d do if they had the time and money. It also happens to be the single best invention I’ve found for finding your path and living you own life. So then why do so many people do it as infrequently as they do?
Time and Money.
Those who list money usually have not gotten creative enough. In many countries it costs much less to exist than in the States, and with how easy it can be to get creative with frequent flyer miles, an occasional international (or domestic) trip can be nearly free (Frequent Flyer Master and Travel Ninja are the best resources I’ve found for understanding the seemingly confusing process of booking free trips and seeing the world).
The money excuse is often a priority issue. Could you have afforded that trip if you didn’t buy that luxury car, the slightly bigger home or that new wardrobe? That’s what I thought. For a few weekends of aggressive partying in San Francisco, one could live happily for a month in Argentina. Let’s be sure we have our perspective straight.
But, time is the biggest excuse of all.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- I will travel the world when I retire
- Work is too crazy to find time to work out
- Even if I had an intimate relationship I could not give them the attention they deserve
- I want to start cooking and eating healthier, it’s just so much easier to eat out
- I have an idea for a business that I am dying to launch once the timing is right
All of these say the exact same thing: I don’t have enough time. This leads us to massively overusing the most dangerous word in the world – Later.
Anything you aren’t doing now won’t get done.
I have news for you. The timing is never right.
Do you really think life will get less complicated later? Let’s get real. If you don’t have time for it now, you will not have time for it later. We have to create it. If it means enough to us, we can find the hours.
Dreams too far in the future never become reality.
One of my best reminders of this is The Alchemist, which I brought on my trip to Patagonia. It was my 5th time reading it. There is no better story of living your destiny. People tend to dream big but their dreams are so far out into the future that they never feel the urgency to get to work on them. Hence they always stay in the future. Remember, dreams are only powerful to the extent that they can be converted to reality. That involves work today, not tomorrow.
“Dreams without action stay dreams”
We need to create time. We need to develop the practice and live it. Monster ideas and experiences will follow.
Here’s how to do it…
Stop doing things that don’t matter.
When I was out fishing I didn’t check Facebook or Twitter or much email (and anything I did need done, I outsourced) – Patagonia is a little lite on wifi. The world did not end. I can’t stress this enough. If the average person stopped doing things that didn’t matter (too much email, news, tv, social networks, etc.) they’d have at least an extra 6-8 hours a week. That’s a full day’s work. What would you do with yours?
The problem is these things are too easy to do. They take no motivation or inspiration to tackle. We default to them. They give us instant gratification. But as is the case with most any immediate gratification, the long term effects are usually the opposite. An hour checking out who’s messaged you is fun, but a day or a week wasted in social networks feels awful. Then we are even less likely to do what matters. Our focus gets killed.
Trade what doesn’t matter for what does.
Instead of checking email first thing in the morning (the biggest silent killer of dreams I’ve seen), how about you do the things you know are most important? These are different for all of us but generally they involve creating things. You know what they are.
If you don’t do them now then they will get pushed to the end of the day or the end of the week and not only will they not get the time they deserve but then if something else urgent and important comes out of nowhere (like a date with your wife, kids soccer game, a friend or colleague in town to catch up, a good day of snow in the mountains or a lights-out new business idea you can’t wait to develop) you’ll push it off because you still have your big projects to complete. Clear your plate of the important first thing. You’ll be energized.
Doing what matters is scalable.
Six weeks ago my father called me and said “you know that fishing trip to Chile and Argentina that we’ve been talking about for the past six years? Well two spots just opened up…for next month.” My first reaction was there’s no way I could make it happen on such notice. Then something hit me. Save my wife and health, there is really nothing more important than spending time with my dad (or any family member for that matter). That realization made the trip a must.
Since I had prioritized what mattered in the months prior and did the same leading up to the trip, I was able to fill a month’s worth of what I needed to do into two weeks. I wrote three articles in advance, got in touch with clients and outsourced anything else time sensitive to my assistant or my loyal and awesome business partner. I simply front-loaded the important.
Doing what matters on a daily basis can easily scale into days and weeks of extra time in a matter of months. It will blow your mind.
Expect the unexpected.
Stop being surprised when something unexpected and urgent comes up out of nowhere. It’s going to. It always does. That’s life. I have no sympathy for people who miss a deadline or are late because ‘something came up’. Unless you are brand new to life or literally had a moment’s notice, you should know better by now. Plan on at least a couple hours of each day being wasted on something you didn’t see coming. Be ready for it by having the important stuff done.
Make it life or death – because it is.
Tim Ferriss has a powerful exercise that goes something like this:
**Don’t just read the below steps. Take 3 minutes and do them.
1. Imagine you just got back from the doctor and were diagnosed with a heart condition. The doctor said that to avoid any further complications you must cut your workweek from five days down to four. What would you cut out to get this done? How have you been wasting your time? What would be on your “must do” list?
2. Now imagine you went back to the doctor and your condition had gotten worse. You have to rest for at least half of your work week. If you don’t, you are very likely to have a fatal heart attack. What would you work on for those 2.5 days?
3. A week later your doc tells you that you now only have one day a week or you will literally die. Any time above an 8-hour workweek will kill you. You must stay on your back for the rest of the week. No getting around it. What would you spend your eight precious working hours on? What could you stop doing? What must you stop doing in order to do the important? What could you have someone else do (i.e. outsource)?
4. Live accordingly.
I believe Tim’s exercise ends with you having only 2 hours a week to spend on work, but I think you get the idea. Take the above exercise seriously and the worthless things you waste your hours on will float right to the top. Make this exercise a weekly or a monthly practice. Time wasters won’t have a place to hide.
Wasting time will kill you.
While the above is just an exercise and it’s quite unlikely a moment of overworking would cause immediate death, in principle it is right on. Filling your day with things that don’t matter is condemning yourself to a slow death.
Your dreams begin to fade into impossibility and eventually disappear. Without dreams it’s easy to lose hope. Once that’s gone, the mind has little left and falls into complacency. Before long you’re sleepwalking. Then it begins to chip away at your physical health. Soon death actually does become a reality.
If people knew death was a week away if they did not create time for the things that made life rich, most of us would create the time. Simple as that. But as with most of life’s silent killers, you can’t really feel the pain until it’s too late.
Doing nothing is where Everything seems to happen.
I used to fear long trips and time away from the office. I was afraid of not getting anything done for a week or more on end and the catch up required when I returned. It took a few adventures to realize I was fearing my biggest source of inspiration.
The most important ‘work‘ happens while out exploring. That’s where the ideas come. That’s where your mind actually gets to think.
While in Patagonia I didn’t make a single sales call, write an article or talk with a client, but my business got stronger. I came back with an energizing vision for my site’s new brand (more on that soon), a dozen new article ideas and worked through our fund’s biggest obstacles for the year to come – having a dad who’s also my core strategist doesn’t hurt much either.
On paper I didn’t get anything done, but by now I know better.
If you don’t create time to stop, reflect, live and enjoy, it’s easy to think you aren’t missing much since every second is filled. I assure you, you are.
Think for a moment. Do you allow yourself time to pursue what matters?
Only one answer is allowed. Take it seriously.
A challenge for you – The 4-day work week:
Treat next week as a 4-day workweek. Monday is off limits for work (you could pick Friday instead, but taking the time off in the beginning of the week ensures that your work from earlier in the week won’t bleed into your day off). It’s a little Parkinson’s Law: the time a task will take is directly proportional to the time available to complete it. Go about your week with only four days to do what matters. See what happens.
If you must, take a personal day from work and spend it with your husband/wife, your kids or yourself out in nature, without your phone or internet. How will you structure your four days to be sure the right things get done?
Congrats. You just created time. Now enjoy it.
How do you create time? Whether you agree with the above or not, please share your experience in the comments (a little friendly disagreement never hurt anyone). I take comments very seriously and respond to every one.
Education Update: A Bootcamp for bloggers who want to go Pro – Registration closes in 2 days
Registration just opened for a a kick-ass blogging bootcamp, The Art of Blog Seduction: How to Draw Subscribers to Your Awesome Blog, put on by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. These bootcamps have become my sole source of pro blogging self-study in the past year. I credit them for taking my subscribers from 100 to over 3,200 in 10 months and going from $12/month in revenue to nearly $2,000. They are awesome. Leo has also become a good friend of mine in SF and I greatly respect his work.
It runs from March 6th to April 2nd and registration closes on Thursday, March 3rd.
Here’s some of what Bootcamp participants will learn:
- How to create a blog that seduces new readers
- The ‘how behind the wow’
- The crucial must-know design elements of an attractive blog
- How to create supreme usability on your blog
- The art of creating an irresistible brand
- How to use videos and podcasts to attract readers
If you’re serious about writing and running an e-business, this stuff is pure gold (assuming you’re willing to work your ass off).
Sign up today and I’ll see you in there.
Life Coach Niels Johnson-LameijerPosted at 13:33h, 01 March
Great article Scott! You are spot on! Time is not something we have it is what we create. We create it by focusing our energy on that what matters most, that what 100% aligns with our passions in life!
Keep up the awesome work!
ScottPosted at 19:06h, 02 March
Thanks Niels. You know this stuff better than most of us. Glad you stopped by to have a look! Hope life is as beautiful as always down in SB.
kirriPosted at 16:01h, 01 March
Scott – I love your work and have been following you for a while now but always find myself too distracted or busy or [insert lame excuse] to comment. Anyway, I just wanted to take the time today to let you know that everything you write lifts my day just a little bit and encourages me to take my game to the next level. Seriously 🙂
I just launched my own blog and reading yours has been pivotal in making that happen.
Mucho appreciation from across the world!
ScottPosted at 19:08h, 02 March
Pues gracias Kirri! And congrats on the new blog! Just checked it out. I love the simple and clean format. Very readable. Nicely done. So glad you commented too. It goes a long way and it’s my favorite thing about writing–hearing what other sharp folks out there have on their mind. Keep it coming and so glad to have you on the adventure!
Big things ahead,
EricPosted at 18:13h, 01 March
nice tip on travel ninja and frequent flying master. just checked them out and they look interesting. what do you recommend? buying both together? frugal minds want to know.
great post as always.
ScottPosted at 19:12h, 02 March
Awesome Eric. Both are really powerful in their own way. The package deal isnt a bad way to pick them up. FFM is more dedicated to understanding frequent flyer miles and how to rack them up and use them for travel for next to no cost. Travel Ninja is more for general travel tips. Covers some FF info but also lodging, great cheap places to go, special packages and other off the beaten path ways to see the world! FFM is probably the most bang for your buck as you’ll easily pay for the cost of it in no time with the tips.
Enjoy the adventure!
Mars DorianPosted at 18:36h, 01 March
wasting time is a terrible thing to do. I have done a lot of it myself and I regret every bit of it – IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN 🙂
I luv the example with the doctor – by visualizing your death you make sure that you live and work more intensely – although I won’t cut down my work to 4 days (it’s just to darn addictive!) I DEFINITELY cut down the hours and make ’em more INTENSE instead.
Thanx for reminder – it just RE_ignited the fire within me to KEEP GOING !
YOU rock !
ScottPosted at 19:31h, 02 March
Glad you swung by Mars! We all fall victim to it from time to time. Where else do you think I came up with these ideas?! I have to remember them all the time. And yes, incorporating death usually is a pretty powerful tool.
Then again in your case (and mine) perhaps it doesn’t matter because who would want to stop doing what they love?? But in reality, no matter how much you love your work, there still has to be time for the other wonders in life. Friends, love, fitness, exploring, you name it.
Glad I stoked the fire a bit!
Joe WilnerPosted at 07:53h, 02 March
Very inspiring post! I admire your willingness to do what you truly desire. Traveling is one thing in particular that people express they’ll do “someday.” Like many other things it’s easy to put off until we’re “ready,” though until we give ourselves a time line, we’re never going to do it. If we want something to happen we need to start giving ourselves a deadline and making progress. Great stuff!
ScottPosted at 19:34h, 02 March
Deadlines are huge indeed Joe. Tim calls them dreamlines which I think are pretty appropriate. A deadline makes it possible and creates some urgency. Crucial for making big things happen.
Congrats on that ebook too. Looks really sharp!
PhilipPosted at 13:53h, 02 March
Good article. It reminds me of one of the stories my Mum told me when I was young (she heard it somewhere) that aptly illustrates your point…
“A Philosophy professor one day he picked up a large empty jar and proceeded to fill it with small rocks. He then asked his students if the jar was full? They unanimously agreed that the jar was full. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked his students again if the jar was full. Again, they unanimously agreed that the jar was full. Then the professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
“Now,” the professor said, “I want you to recognise that this is your life. The rocks are the important things: your family, your partner, your friends, your health, your children, and things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”
Thanks for reminding me of this.
ScottPosted at 19:44h, 02 March
Now add water and then you’re really full!
I love this story and what an awesome reminder Philip! I first heard something like this from Stephen Covey in the 7 Habits. Big rocks are important to prioritize and they’re something I spent a lot of time on in my Goal Setting and Action Workbook (https://liveyourlegend.net/free-goal-setting-and-action-workbook). I call them Areas of Attention. That’s where it all starts. And you’ve got to get the order right.
GeoffPosted at 08:50h, 03 March
I’m trying to read your blogs on a regular basis, (I’ve got a lot unread in my inbox). I appreciate the effort and admire your gung ho attitude. Unfortunately I am more of a pessimist, and instead of being inspired I feel intimidated. A change like this seems so extreme and such an uphill battle. I think I have made more mental efforts to improve my well-being, but it is the physical effort where you see results that I have been lacking.
I do believe reading your blogs will continue the changes I desire. I just thought you might want to here a point of view from someone who is tainted with skepticism and fear of change.
Thanks for reading,
ScottPosted at 18:18h, 06 March
Thanks for reaching out Geoff and so glad you’ve been reading and have started to make some changes (even if only mentally to start–those are the strongest anyway). I’ve tried to provide a spectrum of possible changes and practices both in this post and in my writing as a whole so that hopefully you or any other visitor will not be too overwhelmed by what I propose.
You always have all kinds of options–everything from do nothing, to doing everything that I suggest. Most will fall in the middle. I hope you’ll realize how powerful deciding to do something as seemingly simple as working on your most important projects for an hour in the morning before opening email, can be. That alone will move mountains.
Don’t try to do it all. I certainly didn’t. I’ve been incorporating small habits bit by bit as they suit my experiences and my goals. Looking back the accomplishments feel awesome but they happen ever so slowly.
I urge you, don’t worry about doing it all. No one does anyway. Just pick something small and give it a try. Perhaps don’t read any other posts for a week or two while you try out your new habit. Focus is key.
Glad you’re along for the adventure and please report back as you progress!
DrewPosted at 19:17h, 03 March
I feell like articles like this from you and others like Chris Guillebeau really have saved me from sleepwalking before it happens. And it was bound to happen.
I’m graduating college in a year, and the last couple of years have been a constant back and forth between location and focus. Thank you so much for putting it in such blunt terms that I needed to hear.
Dreams will fade away into nothing if you don’t start working towards them right now. That gives me chills, but I feel a shot of life from it.
ScottPosted at 18:21h, 06 March
It’s an honor to be included in the same sentence as Chris Guillebeua. Thanks!
You are at one of the most exciting points there are–especially given that you are considering doing something meaningful instead of just listening to what “they” say. Chris’ stuff is good medicine for that. I would also check out The Beginners Guide to Being Congruent, if you haven’t already: https://liveyourlegend.net/the-beginners-guide-to-being-congruent
Glad you’re waking up Drew! I wish I was that awake when I was graduating college…it took a year living in Spain to do that!
Excited to see where you head,
From Lost to Legendary: The 6 Pillars of Hacking Human Potential | Live Your LegendPosted at 04:01h, 10 August
[…] us come alive. That’s what we’re going for. Don’t have the extra time? Either create the time off hours or teach people while at the office, maybe over a brown bag lunch session or through a […]
How to Create Time | Live Your Legend « dhsanketPosted at 02:17h, 20 October
[…] How to Create Time | Live Your Legend. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Published: October 20, 2012 Filed Under: Uncategorized […]
outletPosted at 21:36h, 11 December
I am very disappointed of level of this web page. I have never read so terrible texts, absolutely waste of time!
brandPosted at 16:52h, 22 December
Me hope this is a good as your other stuffYours Sincerly
brandPosted at 04:32h, 26 December
Jerri SparlingPosted at 08:23h, 07 January
This reminded me of what my professor told me way back in college and that is to “make time”. If we really want to travel and explore places, we must make time. Excuses, just like you stated, are too easy to find.
Commencer à vivre votre potentiel - Vis Ta Légende | Vis Ta LégendePosted at 01:27h, 06 May
[…] ce que nous allons faire. Vous n’avez pas de temps supplémentaire? Soit créer le temps hors des heures ou enseigner aux gens tout au bureau, peut-être sur une séance de casse-croûte […]
sac longchamp le pliagePosted at 10:24h, 01 June
If you are going for best contents like I do, just visit this web site daily as it gives feature contents, thanks
sacs de voyage longchampPosted at 10:25h, 01 June
you’re actually a excellent webmaster. The web site loading pace is amazing. It seems that you’re doing any unique trick. In addition, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve done a great task in this topic!
Extra ways to make money onlinePosted at 00:20h, 08 October
Thank you for another helpful web site. The place in addition may I receive that sort of info designed in this type of fantastic technique? I have a vision that we are simply today operating about, and i have been recently within the glance outside for this kind of facts.
Extra ways to make money onlinePosted at 05:41h, 08 October
I believe that is amongst the important information in my opinion. And i am content studying your own write-up. Although desire to comment for quite a few common troubles, The website flavour is great, your content articles is within reason for actuality excellent : Chemical. Superb course of action, best wishes
MadsPosted at 17:35h, 01 June
There is so much wisdom in this post. I guess this is the third time I read it.
So for the next 4 weeks I’ll try to only work 4 days/week. Great things are going to happen! …especially if the people I outsource to still work 5 days/week 🙂
wholesale Bulls jerseysPosted at 18:58h, 23 June
cheap Flames jersey for mens kids and womens sale
wholesale Eagles cheap jerseysPosted at 19:00h, 23 June
cheap Eagles jerseys free shipping for sale from china
new Blazers jerseysPosted at 19:01h, 23 June
2014 New cheap Spurs jerseys from china free shipping