Towards the end of last year I had the pleasure of attending a TEDx event where the theme was ‘Shift’. Every presentation was geared towards getting us to make simple shifts in the way we thought and I really enjoyed hearing all the speaker’s view on that topic.
Of course, I started dreaming about having been asked to present at that same event. I pondered what ‘Shifts’ in thinking I could offer to fellow small business owners that might help them manage their days better.
And the ‘Shifts’ I came up with were all related to time:
1. The more time we have, the more time we waste
When I am in book writing mode, I wake at 4.15am every day because I need to produce 1000 words before 6am.
When I do, I don’t make coffee, check my email or ‘quickly see what everyone’s up to on Facebook.’ I don’t have time for any of that! I have to simply open my laptop and start typing.
I don’t have time for writer’s block either.
Some days the words flow, and sometimes they don’t. But flowing or not, I get them out. I learned a long time ago that you can edit 1000 crappy words, or find the gem in 1000 crappy words that will let you produce 1000 lovely words quick smart. But you can’t do anything with a blank page.
I know writers who get to spend entire days at home writing. And yet I see them procrastinating on Twitter and Facebook—because they can.
And then I see them doing their writing at night (when I’m relaxing on the couch!) because they’ve squandered their entire day and have to catch up.
So just because someone has more time to write than me doesn’t necessarily mean they’re writing more.
2. Time restraints force us to practise our craft more deliberately
It might surprise you to find out that when you’re trying to get better at something it’s deliberate practice that gives the best results, not the most practice.
Anders Ericsson studied elite violinists. He found the best violinists weren’t spending more time practising their craft, but rather practising more deliberately during their sessions.
Kobe Bryant is one of the world’s best basketballers. When practising shooting he doesn’t set out to shoot for three hours. He sets out to make 800 shots. Once he’s made his 800 shots, he’s done. Total time doesn’t even come into it.
This is fantastic news for those of us with limited time to achieve mastery of our business craft. We’re not disadvantaged at all as long as we’re being deliberate and productive with the time we do have.
3. No-one has enough time to do everything they want to do
I don’t know anyone who thinks they have enough time to achieve all their business goals.
Highly motivated people with lots of time on their hands tend to channel their energies into every project that captures their imagination. And of course they wish they had more time to spend on all of them.
Those of us with limited time? We’re forced to be selective and pursue only the things most important to us.
Is this a bad thing? Hell no.
Our less-restricted counterparts likely know their energies are being stretched too far. But unless you’re forced to, it’s hard to pull back.
4. The people we envy for their time, envy us as well
Back in the day I competed as an elite triathlete. While also working full-time. So it was frustrating to me that every morning when I headed off to work after a session, many of my competitors were heading home to put their feet up. Boy did I envy them.
But maybe they also envied me. I certainly never had to scrape around for cash if something on my bike broke or I had to travel interstate for a race.
So our limited time isn’t the enemy we think it is. It provides structure and boundaries to our business days. It forces us to prioritise and pursue only the things most important to us. It forces us to get rid of the stuff that isn’t important.
It also forces us to remember that:
The people who achieve the most aren’t the ones with the most time on their hands, but the ones who waste the least of the time available to them.