Take Your Time

As a Productivity Ninja, I have many conversations around time. 

“Not enough time, too much to do” is how most of my conversations start.

We talk about good use of time, about how to work faster, smarter, how to not get bogged down in detail, paralysed by overwhelm, waylaid by procrastination or drowning in email. In fact, my whole book is about dealing with the stuff that sucks up your time.

But sometimes people say to me “I’m focused, I’m clear, I’m fired up, I’ve got my baby steps, goals, projects and to-do list set up. I know exactly what I need to do, I’m making good use of my time and I still don’t have enough time.”

If you feel like time is always running away from you, that you never seem to have enough time. If you are constantly busy, rushing round after other people, wondering when you’ll ever have some time to yourself. If you’re waiting for when you have more time…

I have three words for you.

Take Your Time.

Here’s why:

When we don’t have enough time we rush.

For some reason both my kids have managed to pick shoes that are a bit tricky to put on. While my daughter tries to wriggle her foot into her snug winter boots without losing her balance, and my son tugs and fiddles with his laces, I find myself saying “It’s ok, take your time.”

Because if they rush, it gets harder, and more frustrating, and takes longer.

When we don’t have enough time we hold back or give up.

What have you told yourself you’ll do when you have time? What would you love to do if only you had the time?

Rest, sleep, me time, read a book, write a book, take a holiday, go for a walk, upgrade the software, expand the business, take the risk, train, delegate, think, plan, prepare, go for a run, be still…

So often the things we put off are the things that would add meaning, simplicity or joy to our lives. The things that make life better, and time worthwhile.

So many people wait. They wait for the work to finish, the demands to stop, the constant busyness to slow down, so they can finally have time to do what they want to do. And yet, that time never comes. Because the work never stops. There’s always more to do.

When we don’t have enough time we faff.

When I’m frustrated, bored, uncertain or resistant towards something, I feel the pull of procrastination, to actively take my mind off it. Add to that the pressure of “I haven’t got time for this, I’ve got a million other things to do” procrastination becomes even more attractive.

“I’ll just go do that.” I tell myself. “It needs doing anyway.”

When the pressure mounts, it feels better to be doing something – anything – rather than nothing.

The problem is, procrastination easily eats up anything from an hour to a day. Yet if I just sit with it. Take my time. Resist the urge to go looking for something else to scratch the itch. What seems like forever, but in reality is probably just 20 minutes later, the momentum starts flowing, and I get it done.

When we don’t have enough time, we can miss the moments.

As the saying goes, life is not measure by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

But when we obsess over counting the seconds, we can miss the moments. Moments of profound joy and intense silliness, roaring laughter and peaceful silence, heartwarming connection and satisfying rest. Whether it’s the simple pleasures or crazy adventures. These are the moments that make life worth living.

These are the moments to take our time over.

The truth is, we have time – and we choose how we spend it.

As one workshop delegate recently put it, “If I choose to look at my work email at the weekend, and see something that upsets me, I’m the one who has chosen to let email ruin my weekend. It’s my choice, not anybody else’s.”

The uncomfortable truth is, if you never seem to have any time for yourself, your agenda and what matters to you, you’re choosing not to give any time to yourself.

We make that choice, by what we say yes and no to, what we commit to and what we fail to commit to, what we make ourselves available to, and what we pay attention to. It’s our time. To use or to give away, as we choose.

And the beauty is, when we stop seeing time as something that runs away without us, when we start taking our time, we choose how we experience that time.

We can’t change time, but we can change our experience of it. Sometimes time flies, sometimes it drags, and that’s nothing to do with the seconds, minutes and hours, but everything to do with what we choose.

So here’s what I propose. Let’s stop talking about time like there’s not enough. Like it’s some unstoppable tsunami that we’re trying wrestle into submission.

Let’s just take our time.

If you feel like life is doing you, rather than the other way round, take your time. It’s yours, to do as you choose. You are in control. You really are.

If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time, that never seems to come, I want to say to you: Take your time. It’s yours my darling. Take it. Run with it. Play with it. Live it.

If you’re dealing with new ground, ill health or challenging circumstances that mean you’re not going as fast as you’d like, it’s ok. You’re doing great. Give yourself the space. Be patient, be kind. Take your time. You’ll get there.

And if you’re taking time off, like I am this week, please do take your time. Take it, savour it, enjoy every moment. Don’t count it by seconds, measure it by moments. Enjoy every moment.

Whatever your circumstances, whatever lies before you this week, here’s my challenge, and my invitation.

Take Your Time.

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