Jim Rohn said: “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time.” Time’s also the subject cited most often – more than money – as a reason why people say they can’t prioritise their passions, or get coaching, or get healthy, you name it.
There are many time management systems, and I’ve studied a lot of them. A few parts of each have stuck, but there’s only one insight which has made all the difference. Let me explain.
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Why time management fails
The issue with most time management systems is that life isn’t predictable or linear. You can plan your day minutely, but then life just happens and throws everything over. The nature of life runs contrary to strict planning.
Some systems take this into account, though. Instead of planning a day by a schedule, they suggest setting priorities first and fitting in less important tasks around them. This leads to the insight that once the important things are taken care of, there’s always more time for the rest.
Time is relative: how “long” an hour is, depends on your perception of it.
To help people put this insight into practice, is my life’s work and purpose. It literally changes the world by shifting people’s focus from necessities and fear to desires and pleasure. However, people tend to fear that pursuing their passion won’t leave time for anything else.
In reality, the opposite is the case: Once your passions are the first priority in your life, and you make room for them and put them above everything else, you’ll find that time seems to expand. This is where the subjective, relative perception of time comes in. There’s more than enough room for everything when you’re in your “zone” and joyful.
It’s clear that we aren’t always free to choose our priorities exactly how we want them. If we could, every loved-up couple would spend all their time together and hardly anyone would turn up to work anymore. However, we do have control over our lives and therefore it’s worth it to take a look at our actions versus our intentions.
In the following, I’m going to help you gain clarity about your own, deepest priorities in life. If it turns out they aren’t aligned with your life situation, I’m also going to suggest steps to take towards balancing priorities with the demands of life.
Let’s dive in.
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Open a new text document, or if you prefer, take out pen and paper. I would like you to take five minutes to write down your priorities. Be sure not to write what you think is expected of you (family, kids and so forth feature on most people’s lists, but please don’t put down anything just because you feel it’s “the right thing” to focus on). Nobody will see this list apart from you, so be completely honest with yourself.
I suggest you start out by brainstorming anything that’s important to you without regard to the order in which you write them down. Once your list is complete, you can try ranking it. You should end up with at least five items (there might be as many as 15, or more) saying anything from “my husband” to “table tennis” and “time spent alone in nature”. Don’t forget to include worldly matters like success in your job or making money.
The moment of truth
Next, start a new page and write two more lists:
1. A list of the things you spend money on each month.
2. A list of where you spend your time every day and week.
Number 2 requires some detail: How many of your weekly waking hours do you spend at work, doing housework, chauffeuring your kids, following your passions, with loved ones, exercising, etc etc? Rank this list, too, and the money list, by largest amounts of time respectively money spent. Now compare these two lists to your list of priorities, the one you wrote out first. What do you see?
Your result and what to do about it
They say, “money talks”. I say, yes it does, and time talks, too. What does your comparison reveal? Do you spend your money and your time where your heart lies? Or is your life out of alignment with your goals? The truth is that your priorities are wherever you spend your money and your time. It’s good and well to protest that other things are more important to you – as long as your actions, your life, don’t reflect this, your “priorities” remain pretty words.
This may sound harsh, especially since there are realities in life we all face, such as having to pay rent or a mortgage, and needing money for food. Like I said at the beginning of this article, most of us have obligations we cannot simply break free of, especially since they often affect other people in our lives as well, such as children or other family members.
At the same time, it’s still possible to align your life with what matters to you. Work and obligations only take up so much time. The rest of your day is up to you. You may argue that you’re tired in the evenings, but does TV really refresh you or is it just convenient? Look over your list again and find the time- and money-wasters. If you are serious about putting your money (and time) where your heart is, you’re going to have to learn money management as well as time management and be ruthless with anything that keeps you from living the way you want to.
It’s quite a process, and I gently suggest you get some support in the form of a buddy, a mastermind group, or a Coach. Your life is your own, and it’s up to you to shape it into a form you love! Otherwise, what’s the point? The effort is always worth it.