“I wish I had more time.”
The words effortlessly roll off my tongue as my mind alternates between work deadlines and family time. They pour fourth from a habit I’ve formed as I look at all the projects and ideas that float around my head in the middle of the afternoon.
Those words comfort me. It is my way of saying, “Don’t worry, if you only had more time you could accomplish all of those great things. But there is only so much you can do, right?” They dismiss my inaction.
“I wish I had more time,” I repeat as I finish thumbing through Instagram and switch over to my e-mail. I open the top e-mail on my list. It is from Lyft, a popular ride sharing service. It’s my “year end summary.”
It tells me that I traveled over 1,000 miles using Lyft in 2017. That time accounted for just over 30 hours of time riding in a car with a total stranger.
What would I do with an extra 30 hours? That is almost a full work week. I wished for my time and suddenly I found it.
I really hate when e-mail advertisements are so convicting.
The Instagram Toll
I know a lot of people that wish they had more time. But I’m realizing that most of us do have time; we actually have a lot of extra time. It is just easier to tell ourselves that we don’t because it keeps us from really looking honestly at our habits and asking ourselves what we really want.
Starting something new is scary. Putting in hard work is difficult. So we tell people we just don’t have the time to start that book, work on our passion project, or dedicate more moments to family. We are too swamped.
Then we get an e-mail from Netflix telling us how much time we spent binge watching our favorite series.
We install an app that tracks how much time we spend on social media and are horrified to realize you are spending an average of two hours online every day. Over a lifetime at that pace you will spend almost five and a half years on social media. We are paying a steep toll for our social media habits; the cost of our time.
We do have the time. We just might not get it in the way we want.
Fear the Mini-Hulk
I am a perfectionist when it comes to my work time. I want my workspace clean. I want to “feel it” before I start writing. I want a block of 90 minutes uninterrupted. I want a tiny bonsai tree on my desk to inspire me.
But those are all just excuses not to work. If I set some unrealistic standard of the “kind” and “quality” of work time I get then I may never actually get it. I have two young kids – I am lucky to steal 10 minutes to write without them noticing and running up to mash their tiny hands on my keyboard like a couple of miniature Hulks.
So I don’t write.
I tell my friends I am so busy and they all nod approvingly.
“If only there were more time,” I’ll say. They’ll agree. We will all feel good about work we aren’t doing, but that we totally could if we just redefined what “work time” looks like.
I had 30 hours in a Lyft this year when I could have been working.
Am I going to sit down and write well in a Lyft on a 10-20 minute ride? No, but I could be using that time to write down ideas for blogs, books, talks, or to be working on new anecdotes or jokes. That is easy. I can make that a habit.
Whenever I get into a Lyft, I say hello to the driver, then open up Evernote on my phone and write down any idea I have or fleshing out ideas that are there already for the duration of the ride. They don’t have to be good or perfect. Even if I spend 29 hours writing bad ideas, that one hour of really solid ideas probably amounts to a year’s worth of blogs, talks, and maybe even a full book.
With all those ideas I will save time because when I write later I won’t stare idly at my bonsai tree trying to come up with an idea. I’ll have them all ready to go. Now that precious, tiny-Hulk free 10 minutes of writing is all writing instead of me trying to think of something to say (and probably getting distracted by my Twitter feed).
My Lyft Office
If I stay committed to this, in 2018 I’ll have 30 hours of “idea writing” time; 30 hours of new jokes, anecdotes, blog ideas, and talk concepts. It is like a full writer retreat.
It just doesn’t look like some tiny bungalow on a hill overlooking a picturesque forest. It looks like the backseat of a Toyota Prius on my way to the airport or home from work.
We all feel crunched for time – but we can get creative on where we look for time and find it, maybe even a lot of it. We just need to redefine what our “rules” for work time, family time, or leisure time look like.
I spent 30 hours in a Lyft this year and I misused most of them. For 2018, though, that Lyft is becoming my idea cave because I’m making some new rules and I’m ditching excuses. I’ve got the time.
Join the Conversation: Where are you going to find time to make 2018 your most successful year?