How to Stop Saying You Don't Have Time and Get Things Done

William Meller - How to overcome "I don't have time"
Whenever you say "I don't have time," you are sending a message about how you prioritize and organize your own life. Stop using this phrase.

In this article we will discuss:

> Why saying "I don't have time" could be a lie;
> How to find time;
> How to build a self-management system for you;
> Why do we fail to try new habits or methods in our life;
> Why all these things aren't easy and how to overcome them.

So, here we go!

Endless screens around you.

There are a lot of things to do (when you have time, of course).

Videos, images, readings, and messages that never seem to end up in a proper understanding of the to-do list that has never been so overshadowed by distractions and almost systematic piles of forgetfulness.

In the article about Parkinson's Law, we learned about the story of a woman who spent an entire day sending a postcard, a task that would take most busy people about three minutes. Yet she spends one hour looking for the card, another half hour looking for her glasses, 90 minutes writing the card, and another 20 minutes deciding whether to bring an umbrella with her. Her whole work-day was occupied.

According to Parkinson's law, work expands to fill the time available for completion.

Work makes it difficult to fill available time, but if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute.

If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. 

If it must be done in six months, then it will.

If something must be done next week, it’ll be done next week. 

If something must be done tomorrow, it’ll be done tomorrow.

It happens to everyone that some cases are slow and do not bring any results. You may want to check your mail, read social media, or read some humorous sites.

Asking ourselves how to find more time does not help us because the time that flies for you and me is the same as it was for your ancestors and for any human that has ever existed.

As space is relative to time, the same time is relative to our age, the season, or the activities we engage in. This is also relative to the people who we interact with.

Think back to a Sunday afternoon when you were a child. It was a warm, sunny day. Your house is hosting a family party, and you are surrounded by your relatives and close friends. After playing in the pool until your fingers shrivel, you do two or three other activities before going inside to watch a movie. Following the movie, you continue playing games and swimming in the street. One by one, your friends begin to leave, leaving you alone at home with your parents. There's still sunlight, and you still have time to clean up the mess, shower, do your homework, pack your schoolbag, and maybe even watch some more television before you go to sleep.

Your innocent 8-year-old self hasn't taken any productivity or time management courses, but you can be sure she's an expert at ensuring that each day is lived uniquely and that every task has been completed effectively.

How did all that free time disappear from a single day?

After several years, the same child now has a job. She now receives the list of "not so funny plays" from someone who still gives her money for eight hours a day.

Although, between sleeping, selling your hours to this new "little friend" called boss, studying, doing homework, and all the other adult activities, it doesn't seem to be the same as it was before.

It does not appear to be the same 24 hours a day.

Previously, there was no watch on the wrist, or perhaps a plastic one with non-moving pointers. And now, it not only shows the time, but it also has enough intelligence to tell you that you should walk more, exercise more, breathe better, and even that you have been sitting for too long and should get up. Even so, your childhood plastic, motionless watch with Mickey's face seemed to give you more time for the day.

You can't tell when exactly that changed. But when a friend asks why you don't devote more time to sports, your response is always the same: "I don't have time."

Hourglasses have the almost mystical ability to depict time dying, grain by grain, and time passing away. Money, once lost, can be recovered, and many other quantifiable items encountered throughout life can be replaced.

But time does not return. And he always returns. At the same time, consider this bizarre dichotomy:

Every day, the same hourglass of 1440 minutes is reset, and you have the opportunity to invest each of these minutes in sleeping better, eating with peace of mind, reading books, working, and producing - which is different from working - and pursuing that goal you still say you don't have time for. That's the same 1440 minutes that billions of other people will get every day.

But, as I previously stated, the time that always returns to you never returns. The minutes you spent scrolling through that social network are gone forever.

And you keep complaining about not having enough time to do what you want.

To be honest, hearing this is one of the things that has bothered me the most in recent years.

When I told my father as a child that I didn't have time for something, his simple response could fill a book: "create time, find time, or figure out what to do to make it happen!"

The simplicity of this response carries with it something I truly believe is the solution to our lack of time: the irresponsible way we fill the minutes we have each day.

And, while you claim not to have time to do "everything", you don't know how to prioritize your daily "everything."

If you can't explain why you don't have time, you're just making excuses.

There are numerous productivity books available. You should read the majority of them. However, you are not required to read any of them.

William Meller - Tech Life - Communication

As a thinking animal (mysteriously one of the smartest on the planet), you have enough cognitive ability to understand that achieving something is not about where it is listed or how it will be timed, but about going there and doing it. Just do it!

When you were six years old, you knew this when you decided to go there and spend the time playing volleyball with friends. Later, the 12-year-old self-discovered the high cost of leaving something until the last minute and failing to complete a school assignment: your first procrastination history!

Technology has enabled us to have self-management systems, which I gladly use and will demonstrate shortly in this article.

Your childhood, on the other hand, taught you how to be productive and not procrastinate. How to concentrate on ONE thing at a time.

I have some friends who, when they look at the list of books I've listed here as read and recommended (lack of a list, because I didn't see a reason to list the random novels and fiction), think and even ask me if I stopped doing something else in life to read all these books or if I spend hours reading it every day, when in fact I only read a little bit, but have been consistently doing that every day.

Consistency was always a key that I understood to be the differentiator to stop saying I didn't have time for something.

The same goes for reading a useful article daily. Read the Bible. Investing quality time with my wife. Have fun with something really funny to laugh at. Playing a video game or some guitar. Study a new subject and learn something new every week. It is the same idea of consistency.

A work system with a prioritized list combats any lack of time.

All of these roles must be addressed properly. If you spend too much time in one of these roles only on weekends, such as studying for that week's test, you won't be able to fulfill any of them well because you are inconsistent as a student.

Personal management's golden rule is to ensure that all roles are constantly and consistently replenished every day, without overloading one role or forgetting another.

Because time is not something that can be re-invested or increased as a regular resource, we cannot state that it is in short supply. We can't extend or borrow time, therefore it's not something we can control when it'll be there forever in the same way. We merely have to handle what happens throughout it.

We plan to depend on the amount of time we have, and as the deadline approaches, we begin to make decisions and sacrifices to complete the assignment by the deadline.

As a result, effective self-management is usually one of the few methods to quit speaking incorrect statements like not having enough time.
William Meller - Lists

How can we stop complaining about not having enough time and make better use of the time we have?


1. Establish a clear self-management system that works for you.

2. Stick to and trust the system you've created, and be consistent over time; quick bursts of activity do not form habits.

3. Do not be scared to say no to others if their requests do not in line with your priorities and system.

4. Believe in the power of simply 5 minutes (for example) dedicated to activities with no interruptions;

5. Reward yourself and celebrate your accomplishments to help your brain form good habits.

At the end of the day, productivity is still about doing what needs to be achieved. Period.

We will learn how to apply self-management efficiently and ensure that our energy is spent properly in the course of some future pieces on this site that I will be publishing here on this topic. Even taking into account that the energy we have available each day varies and is heavily influenced by other factors such as a good night's sleep or a healthy diet.

Today, we'll look at how self-management systems can help you better understand yourself and stop complaining about not having enough time because you'll know exactly where you're investing the energy you have available every minute of the day.

Building Your Self-Management System


The self-management system that I've structured and used over the last several (at least 8) years is comprised of a magical quartet of items: the calendar system, task tracking system, note system, and reading system.

- Keep an agenda: your brain was not designed to remember appointments; it was designed to think. Allow this attempt to be part of your self-management system;

- Keep a tracking system for a list of activities: I use Trello+Kanban to ensure that all the tasks I need to accomplish or track are completed. Again, just using my brain to think rather than memorize;

- Keep an organized note system: I use Evernote to keep track of everything that happens during the day. From chatting with someone to listening to a podcast. Our brains are not designed to remember details;

- Keep a reading system: As previously said in this article, I read a lot and require an effective reading system. I read books on Kindle, PDFs (magazines, papers, or technical articles) on iBooks, and articles and updates on the internet in general on Pocket.

As a result, the following (free) tools are required:

Google Calendar + Phone Calendar
Trello
Evernote
iBooks + Kindle + Pocket

If you'd like me to elaborate further on how I've been using any of these tools, let me know in the comments.

My self-management system is intrinsically tied to my strategic self-management system, which we shall discuss in another article. This is my plan, my goals for the year or the following three years, my personal branding organization, and so on.

Make an inventory, journal, or diary of everything you did that day (beginning today). It might be a phone note with a bullet point for each day or any other method that works for you. I use Evernote for this because it is part of my note system.

I've been keeping a journal in this format:

In Evernote, I have a note called "Journal 202X". In this note, I include the following information:

1. Day number in the year (2022, day 157);
2. The date this day refers to (2022, day - Tuesday, Jun-07);
3. The most important/key things I need to perform for the day;
4. I write daily notes to myself. What I did that day, what I'm worried about, what I'm grateful for, etc;

The goal of creating a self-management system is to allow you to use your biological brain for what it was designed to do: think.

It was not intended to help you remember duties, remember details from notes, remember dates, or digest all of the reading.

When we have such a support system, our brain can upload information to the system and offload our anxieties.

The sense of not having forgotten anything (due to the self-management system) and having some control over our existence helps in the clarity of our thinking.

I don't have to worry about remembering what the next task is because the system performs it for me.

However, once you've established a self-management system like that, it's time to stick to your principles.

William Meller - Tasks

Trust, stick, and be consistent with the system you created


When I hear someone say they tried the XYZ tool/method/book/technique and it didn't work for them, I ask certain questions to try to better understand the point.

I come across people all the time who have tested something for less than two weeks and then abandoned it!

What!?

When you begin developing a self-management system for your life or simply attempting anything new, you must allow this system to establish roots and habits in your life, which will never be accomplished in less than 100 days.

Habits take time to form and require a great deal of dedication and consistency to produce any results. It is not a simple process.

The habit loop (in our brains) consists of three stages: cue, routine, and reward.

Everything begins with the cue, which is the stimulation that causes the brain to go into automatic pilot and indicates the habit that should always be employed (brushing your teeth, for example).

This leads to routine, which is how we carry out our tasks, whether physically, cognitively, or emotionally.

We perform all of this in pursuit of a reward, which helps the brain decide whether or not to save this loop for the future.

Changing a habit demands training and dedication, which is the most significant factor in an individual's success. It will take time! At the very least, 100 days!

It's comparable to exercising the muscles in your arms and legs; it requires a lot of determination and effort to make this a regular part of your life.

I stated 100 days above because I normally incorporate "The 100 Days Project" into my annual routine, which means that whenever I discover a new idea that can help me (in a podcast, book, etc.), I establish a project to implement, use, and experience this new technique for at least 100 days.

It is a commitment to yourself.

100 days is an excellent time to implement a new system and form new habits.

This self-management system we've built needs to be powered, which will take some time in the beginning.

Prepare to expend more time and energy in the beginning, primarily because you will be fighting yourself and the desire to circumvent the system. Don't try to manipulate the system. Commit yourself and follow through on it.

I know I have major memory challenges, for example, so I trust my system. I can't really remember anything I've said or been told, much less even places or events I've committed to. My system, on the other hand, works like a servant.

And, when executing, focus on just one thing at a time.

Just.
One.
Thig.

The One Thing


Remember your childhood, as we mentioned at the start of the article? You did not play in the pool while doing your homework when I was a kid.

One of the most crucial aspects of being productive in an age of multi-screens and notifications is the philosophy of focusing on only one thing at a time.

This philosophy has also been the hardest for me to apply in my daily life, but I keep trying. Even more challenging in a remote work environment, where distractions like emails, meetings, and messages combine with the difficulties of focusing on only one thing at a time.

The thought of devoting all of our attention to one activity is amazing, but you should be aware that you will need to exercise this, which will require training and a lot of effort. This is not going to be simple, I assure you!

It is impossible to be effective, efficient, productive, or creative while engaging in two things that require concentration.

If you only have 30 minutes a day to study a new language, make the most of every minute by avoiding distractions and odd thoughts. That activity will require 30 minutes of total focus.

If distractions are stronger than you, take the test to nip the evil in the bud. Your brain is waiting for that great injection of dopamine from social media; if you can't resist, uninstall these apps from your phone.

If you can't do it, once again, don't tell me you don't have time.

Next week we'll talk more about The One Thing Philosophy, if you don't want to miss this article, subscribe here and you'll receive the article in your email.
William Meller - Tracking

Every process of improvement is painful


If you've reached this point in the article and you're still thinking to yourself, "no, I don't have the time man," stop and think about all the times at work or school when you had no more time available and suddenly discovered you needed to find time because it was mandatory for school or nowadays because your boss asked for something and there was no way to say no.

You should try to find the same "magical moment" that you found for your school and your boss, but this time it is for you.

May you have the same discipline to you. 

May you have the same responsibility to yourself. 

I hope you feel the same way about yourself.

William Meller - Procrastinating
Illustration by @junhanchin


Learn more about yourself and how much time you've wasted by not finishing crucial tasks.

Coming to the end of each day, 365 days a year, with the satisfaction of having finished significant tasks on our to-do list and having met our objectives, is priceless.

Stop thinking that the famous successful entrepreneur you were reading about has more time than you and start thinking about how you may be an example of success in a state of flow during the day and be a better version of yourself at the end of each week.

It's fine if you don't want to go to that bar with your friends. 

Smart people respect other people's agendas and priorities. 

So there's no reason to lie. 

Say no and stick to your system. 

Make that promise to yourself. 

You've deserved it.

If we say we don't have time, we are also saying that we lack the basic ability to manage what's important and what's not.

You find the time when you want it. It is always feasible to make time for what you want to do, no matter how busy your schedule is.

Ah, and everyone procrastinates from time to time, it's normal. Do not put this pressure on yourself, it is part of the game.

So, I truly tried to assist you here in this article!

See you next time, to continue our discussion about the self-management system.


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