Despite working on it for several years, I have yet to add that magical 25th hour to my day.
All the same, I have things on my to-do list, and several items fall by the wayside repeatedly. When people look at my half-finished projects, read unpolished stories, or ask why I never started a million dollar company, I always cite my lack of time.
Well, that is until a good friend reminded me that was a cop-out:
There is something about real highlights and written notes pic.twitter.com/g8TRLbUVMf
— curtismchale (@curtismchale) April 9, 2014
The most damning part of this image is a single sentence:
When you want something bad enough, you make the time – regardless of your other obligations.
That makes me wonder, do I really want these things bad enough?
Once Upon a Time
After I earned my masters degree, I didn’t want to start a company. My sights were set fairly high – I wanted to work internationally in a management capacity controlling the marketing (product creation through advertising through fulfillment) for a sports-related company.
My youth led to several rejections. No one wanted to pay a 20-something with an MBA a real salary when they could hire someone instead with 20 years of experience to do the same job. I was the risky option. So I instead set my sights on building a company.
I started Jumping Duck Media so no one would be hiring “Eric Mann Enterprises” when I sold a marketing bid. For the first year, it was pretty rough but passable. I made a respectable income for a 1-man shop just starting out, and worked on contracts in along the West coast (Oregon, Washington, California) and with a client in China.
My failing at that stage of my career: time management.
I invested my time in ways that failed to pay off and held my time back from things that would have been revolutionary. Also, I spread myself too thin and tried to juggle too many goals at once.
When one ball dropped, I’d get depressed and drop 3 others. It was unsustainable, so I stopped working for myself and tried my hand at being an employee.
In all of my jobs since I gave up being my own boss, I’ve had far more time than I expected. I put in my hours – often more than I should – and can actually relax at home with a book. Feeling free time makes me question what else I can do now that I’m not spending all hours of the night responding to RFPs.
But when it comes to the things I don’t have time for, I’m beginning to recognize why I use time as an excuse.
It was pointed out this week that I spend more time talking about potential features for WordPress than I do writing patches. True. After a full (or more-than) workday writing PHP code, the last thing I want to do in my evening hours is keep writing PHP code. Does this mean I won’t? No; it just means I haven’t found a single idea I care enough about to invest my time there.
Despite having several partially finished stories sitting around my office, I’ve never polished one enough to publish. Does this mean I won’t? No; it just means the ideas I’ve had thus far are interesting enough to start but too boring to actually finish. If my story bores me, why would I subject anyone else to it?
Moving forward, I’m taking much more careful stock of my time. This means I focus on one thing at a time, and if it’s not something I care enough about to focus on, I drop it. No more excuses; “time” has been a scapegoat long enough.
What have you not accomplished because you ran out of time? What distractions could you give up so your time could be more focused on the things you actually care abut?
- I know, I know, I missed last Friday. I will be making it up to you. I promise. ↩