You Do Have Time

It has become a sign of success in the modern world to say that you’re busy.

Being busy signifies that you are a hard worker. You have plenty of opportunities. You are important. And everyone wants to be important!

So you will often hear “I don’t have time.”

“I’d love to have a weekend away with my family, but I don’t have time.”

“I’d love to take up skiing, but I just don’t have the time.”

“I wish I could read as much as you do, but I’m always so busy that I don’t have time.”

You do have the time, though. We all do. We’re just choosing not to use it on that particular activity.

168 Hours

Everyone has the same 168 hours in their week. Me, you, Beyonce, and the President of the United States have the same quantity of this one resource.

Beyonce may have a lot more musical ability than me, but she has the same amount of time each week. In fact, we had the same amount of time each week when she was developing that talent and I was…well…not doing that.

By the time Beyonce was the age that I am now, she had released four solo albums along with another four albums with Destiny’s Child. She had 25 top 10 singles in the US.

She did that using the same number of hours that I have used to get to where I am. Which is…not there.

Your Time Shows Your Priorities

There’s a saying that has a few different variations, but today I’ll quote the Joe Biden version. “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.”

The same goes for our time.

Beyonce prioritized musical ability and success far higher than I did. I taught myself how to play Fat Lip by Sum 41 on the guitar before patting myself on the back and going to play video games. She clearly spent an obscene amount of time developing and perfecting her talent and building a successful career.

She used her time in a way that clearly showed music to be her number one priority. I didn’t.

When you say “I don’t have time for this,” you are actually saying “This isn’t a priority right now.”

And that’s fine!

There are a lot of things that we could be doing with our time. But there isn’t enough time to do everything. We need to prioritize. Some things just won’t make the cut.

But we need to recognize that when we “don’t have time,” we are stating our priorities. When we recognize this, we can take control of our time.

Does Your Time Match Your Priorities?

Some percentage of your time needs to be spent on necessities. We need food, shelter, and warmth for our families.

There are some people that cannot move beyond this aspect of time usage. There are some in our society who need to work multiple jobs just to put food on the table and keep a cheap roof over their heads.

The rest of us have the necessities covered with a portion of our time and then spend the rest on wants.

Even if we need to work at a certain salary or a specific number of hours to pay the bills, this is because we chose the level of luxury we want in our home and our vehicles and our material goods. We chose to spend on vacations or school or gym classes. We chose our expenditures knowing that work had to follow.

Take a time audit.

This is something that I do from time to time that I have found very helpful. Print out this sheet of paper and carry it around with you. Mark down what you are doing in fifteen minute increments for a week.

See where your time actually goes. And then compare it to where you want your time to go. Compare your actions with your priorities.

Are you spending more time than you want working overtime? Surfing the Web? Watching television? Are you spending less time than you want hanging out with friends? Talking to family? Reading? Learning?

Figure out what your time usage is saying about your priorities. Then fix it if you don’t like it.

It is easy to go on autopilot and fall into the time usage that we feel is expected of us. Take a step back. Analyze your time. Analyze your priorities. Realign yourself.

If there is something that we want to do, we have the time to do it. We just need to make it a priority.

If you are finding yourself saying “I don’t have time” to things you want to do, then step back and think about how to make that time.

21 thoughts on “You Do Have Time”

  1. Interesting timing, I have been thinking a lot about how time is my most valuable resource. My time spent at home with my family goes pretty well, I have the natural drive to focus on what matters to me. I still have work to do here, trying to raise a large family and start a side-hustle is trying to fit a lot in to a small area, and I will need to be more efficient with my time.

    Work, now that’s a different story, I have nowhere to go but up there. However, I have a problem that is really strange for me. I think over time I have really screwed myself over, and I simply cannot ‘fix it’, at least not quickly. This is the battle I am currently engaged in.

    I think it was Zig Ziglar who said something like: ‘You never get to the end of the day, and find that you just didn’t have time to eat.’ I think the same thing can be said of the bathroom! As you have stated, it is a matter of priorities. If I followed the 15 min recording (which I will do today), I would find so much random internet surfing: Facebook, Instagram, blogs (irony noted). I do not want these to be my priorities.

    Back to the battle …. why am I making this so hard?

  2. I’m pretty obsessed with this topic. My husband is reading 168 hours by Laura Vanderkam right now and he loves it. I read an article by her in the NY Times last year on this topic and found it really eye opening. I logged all my time for a week and found it eye opening. Yet I found it difficult to get to the next step though. OK, I know I am spending too much time online, not enough time working out. How do I fix it? But knowing where your time goes is definitely the first step, along with realizing no matter how busy you are, there are lots of minutes through the day that you are wasting with things you don’t really care about. You are right – we DO have time.

  3. I like the topic choice. Time management is another area like personal finance that is not really taught in formal education. As a society it’s extremely lacking. And yet everyone complains about never having enough time. No one ever says that when they are young, but you hear it all the time as an adult. IT makes you wonder are people spending their time appropriately.
    Full Time Finance recently posted…Financial Independence is Born in the Crucible of Financial FailureMy Profile

    1. This is true. It seems like especially in the modern world there are a lot of activities that easily swallow up our time without really having anything to show for it.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Matt recently posted…Do More in Less TimeMy Profile

  4. I definitely agree that where you spend your time/money and what areas you actually care about.

    While not Beyonce, I am definitely trying to maximize my talents as best I can, although I wouldn’t mind having a team of people that poured their time into making sure I was successful like her 🙂
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…The Cost of Having a Second ChildMy Profile

    1. An entourage could certainly be nice to have! It seems like that is an example of success begetting success. Once you hit a certain level of success, you get to have a team of people help you become more successful.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Matt recently posted…Do More in Less TimeMy Profile

  5. This is so true Matt. For a lot of things that I want to do, I often tell people that I don’t have time without realizing that I have higher priorities. I also noticed that I have a lot of things that I wanted to do, but I don’t have enough time to do it.

    Another thing that I realized, I may have been prioritizing the wrong tasks. I definitely need to do a time audit. Thanks for this great reminder Matt.
    Leo T. Ly @ recently posted…Raising Financially Responsible KidsMy Profile

    1. I have found the time audit to be so much more useful than it would seem. There are a lot of 15 minute blocks that just disappear into email and the Internet. I had no idea how bad it was before I did the audit. It is sort of like tracking your spending to find budget leaks.

      Thanks, Leo!
      Matt recently posted…Do More in Less TimeMy Profile

  6. I did a time audit a few months ago – and noticed I started spending my time more wisely during the audit. Just the fact that I had to write down that I wasted 30 minutes perusing Pinterest was enough. I guess it’s a bit like a food journal – you certainly don’t want to write down that you had 5 cookies! I actually think I could benefit from an ongoing time audit to keep me on track and more efficient. And, yes, you are sooo spot on about choices!!!
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…The best pantry items to save dinner on the busiest daysMy Profile

    1. I have found the same exact thing! If I have a few days in a row that are unproductive, I will often just start tracking my time because I know having to admit to myself that I’m wasting time on the internet will make me do it less.

      Thanks, Amanda!
      Matt recently posted…Do More in Less TimeMy Profile

  7. I think I just want to do too many things 🙂 But seriously, you are right. We do have time to do the things we want to do. We just need, to be honest with ourselves about what they really are. Thanks for the reminder Matt.

    1. Wanting to do too many things is exactly why I started taking an interest in time management in the first place 🙂 I was starting a million different projects and never actually finishing anything. I had to figure out my priorities and cut back in order to actually move the ball.

      Thanks for the comment, Amy!
      Matt recently posted…Do More in Less TimeMy Profile

  8. Completely, 100% agreed. I like the idea of a “time audit,” too. I do something similar with RescueTime, an app that tracks how much time I spend on the computer (and what sites I visit, and so on).

    I think I’m going to write a post soon on the same topic (although I arguably write too much without having a very big audience). One of my favorite social commentators — minus the gender pronoun stuff and BLM resistance — is Professor Jordan Peterson from the University of Toronto.

    He has an eye-opening lecture when it comes to wasted time:

    “The UN planned to halve poverty from 2000 to 2015, and it was accomplished by 2013. So there is inequality developing in many places and you hear lots of political agitation about that, but overall the tide is lifting everyone up, and that’s a great thing.

    “We have no idea how fast we can multiply that if people got their act together and really aimed at it.

    “Because my experience with people is that we’re probably running at about 51% of our capacity.”

    He goes on to talk about wasted time.

    I love that: “If people got their act together and really aimed at it.”

    Because of globalization, we’re living in a time where focused contributions to specific charities that are in dire need of funding can really change the world. We have the power to do that, even without a lot of money. And I think it’s one of the most fantastic things about being alive today.

    Nice post. It’s always a great reminder. It’s the same thing I tell people when they don’t volunteer. It’s not that you don’t have time, it’s that you just don’t care.

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