Work Life

Honesty Before Productivity

Let’s start with the truth: everybody lies. And of all the lies we tell ourselves, “I just don’t have enough time,” hurts us the most. I believe this lie to be our greatest offender because it keeps us from turning our dreams into reality. The idea of not having enough time makes it easy to shift the blame from the true culprits — ourselves.

Some of you may think that you’re not lying about this and that you don’t have time. I’m not going to argue. Instead, I’m going to talk about how focused management can make a difference for those of us who know deep down inside we're being dishonest with ourselves.

Let’s take a closer look. “I just don’t have enough time.” Some may start with the question of how much time is enough. Do you need two hours to polish up a task? Four hours? I say even if you have four uninterrupted hours, they’re usually consumed by things they weren’t intended for. I’ll let you in on something: You don’t need time. You need focus.

Manage your focus by being honest with your priorities. Do you have a book on your shelf you’ve been meaning to read for the last month? Not a priority. A hobby you’ve wanted to start for the last year? Not a priority. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice 5 minutes of your day for something, it’s not a priority. Stop lying to yourself, saying you wish you could do a thing you clearly don’t want to do. The bottom line is that if you want to make something a priority, you’ll have to make sacrifices.

Once you’ve decided what you’re true priorities are, you’ll need to steal your own time. You may not always have time for yourself. That’s okay. It just means you have to steal it. Choose a 30-minute block and don’t allow anyone else to use it but you.

I used to have a problem whenever I tried to start something new. I would wait for the perfect time to start, but that time would never come. Then I would blame others for stealing my time when in reality, I was just too afraid to steal my own time. That’s the trick: you don’t wait for time, you steal it.

How often have we heard that story of someone doing an entire semester’s worth of work in one night? Deadlines demand focus, and short deadlines demand urgent focus. By allowing yourself only 30 minutes to complete a task, you force yourself to not only stay focused, but also break your goals down into smaller, more digestible chunks. Although it’s not a lot of time, it’s enough to make meaningful progress. And a little bit of progress every day will turn your dreams into reality.

We all have enough time, it’s just up to us to use it wisely. Take a step back and be honest with priorities. Don’t be afraid to dedicate time for yourself… even if you need to steal it. Big problems are resolved task by task. It’s okay to dream big, just work small.

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