Raise your hand if you’ve ever claimed not having enough time for something. We’ve all done this and we’ve all seen people whose days have 24 hours (just like ours) do those things we didn’t have time for. “I don’t have time for it” basically means “This isn’t a priority for me”. I realized this last night.
After flying for 26 hours I finally made it back to Portland. I got home at one in the morning ready to sleep. But I couldn’t, because there was so much to do! I had to do laundry, get rid of stuff I no longer use, clean the house… the list goes on and on. I felt extremely overwhelmed and anxious. So I did what I always do when I feel anxiety: I meditated.
I acknowledged what I was feeling: “Hey, it’s you: the anxious mind. Long time no see!” As soon as you see a thought, it starts to disappear. You realize it’s just a thought; it’s not real. Two people can find their homes in the same condition I found mine and they can react in very different ways. One might feel anxious (the way I did) and one might feel happy they’re back home, even if everything isn’t perfect. Same scenario, two different thoughts, which become two different perceived realities.
When I decided to let my worrying thoughts go, something really amazing happened. I realized how much work and time it takes to make everything perfect in life. If you want to keep your floors spotless, your car clean and your clothes neatly organized all the time, that takes a lot of time and energy. I’m not saying this is good or bad, I’m just stating a fact: perfection is extremely time consuming. Based on that reality you can choose to be a pig and have all the time in the world, live in a spotless world with no time for other stuff, or choose to be somewhere in the middle (this is where I decided to be).
I decided that I’ll be OK with a little mess in my life as long as that gives me more time to do the things I really love: play sports, spend time with friends and family, work on projects I’m passionate about, and travel. Everything in life is a trade-off.
Here’s another thought that occurred to me: I can easily pay someone $500 a month to help me keep things clean once a week or so. If this saves me 10 hours a week, I can make much, much more than $500 with that free time. Or, I can rest 10 hours a week and be more productive when I decide to work, which is also a better idea than saving $500 and doing all the cleaning myself.
Next time you find yourself saying “I don’t have time for this” do one of these two things instead:

  1. Decide you don’t want to do it, but don’t blame it on the lack of time.
  2. If it’s important, make the time for it. You only have one life and wasting it doing things that won’t take you anywhere would be a shame.