Make Time

I had the good fortune of finally meeting Better Mess fixture Yuvi Zalkow while on a recent trip to Portland. Regular readers of this site know that I enjoy taking his I’m A Failed Writer series and adding my own thoughts (far easier than actually creating the videos). While sitting on a couch, in his house, I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at his now-released video on time and project management.

It was a gut punch. Actually it was a one, two combo. Yuvi shared that he was taking a hiatus from his videos (thankfully, I somewhat talked him out of it. I mean, what the hell does he expect me to write about here?) and then, in a single image, he forced me to face a harsh truth that I’ve been carefully avoiding: there isn’t time for everything. No matter how hard you try, no matter how well you optimize, no matter how good you are at lying to yourself (trust me on this last one), the time available to us a finite (and apparently crudely drawn) pie. We have more than we think, we still waste plenty of it, but there isn’t always or even often enough time to accomplish everything we’d like.

As someone who is starting to attempt something ambitious in addition to a family, a full-time job and a website, it’s forcing me to really take a look at everything I’m currently spending my time on. It’s also forcing me to take a hard look at the things I want to spend my time on. That’s the last time I buy Yuvi drinks.

At its most abstract, I want to:

  • Make time to talk with the people I want to know
  • Make time for the people I already know
  • Make time to listen (no matter how much it isn’t my strong suit)
  • Make time to get healthy (no matter how much I hate that)
  • Make time to do the things I want to do
  • Make time to do the things I need to do
  • Make time to do the things specific people need me to do
  • Make time to plan the things I want and need to do so that I actually do them
  • Make time to do the work
  • Make time not to
  • Make time to find out how to do the work better
  • Make time to be better
  • Make time for my family
  • Make time for myself
  • Make time for others
  • Make time to sleep (no matter how much I tell myself I don’t need it)

At its most direct, I want to:

  • Do right by my family
  • Do right by my day job
  • Do right by my side project
  • Do right by this site
  • Do right by myself

That’s a lot, but I believe it to be doable, especially if I start taking a far more assertive approach to what I stop wasting time on. I see what some truly prolific, hard-working people are up to and I know I can do more. I also know that I’ll never really excel unless I keep eliminating the excess, continue to focus my efforts, as well as have the courage to take a step away from things that I care about (much like Yuvi is doing with his video series) to focus on the things I really care about. Much as I hate to admit it, Yuvi has a point.

I don’t see the harsh reality that Yuvi is forcing me to face as a bad thing. In fact, the timing couldn’t be better, especially considering the Hugh MacLeod cartoon I came across the very same day:

Yuvi and Hugh provided great reminders (oddly enough, both of them did so in pie form) that I cannot make time for everything and must choose my sliver wisely. It reinforces something that I already knew, but have been ignoring… that I have to make time for the things I truly care about and get rid of the rest. Otherwise, I won’t make anything happen at all.

Check the Yuvi’s full post and if you’ve been enjoying his stuff here on the site, be sure to support him by buying his new book. He did make the time to make it, after all.

7 Responses to Make Time

  1. I like the video, and I hate it. Because it makes me feel inadequate in how I make my own vids…but that is my fault for not using the right tools.

    Making time for the things that you want to do is hard. Real hard. It requires Discipline and Focus. And making choices sometimes as to what is more important in your life. A couple of things have really helped me to get more done: – Start less things – you can finish more and feel great about it – Get up early and exercise and go for a walk/run – gets you healthy and time to clear your head. Easier now that I have quit smoking. (yes, I really did, wasn’t going to, didn’t want to. Sunday was five weeks, baby!) – Keep a Daily Activity Log- very useful for finding where you are wasting time or not being as efficient as you could be.

  2. Again thanks for prompting me to visit Yuvi’s site and watch his latest creation. Taking stock of stuff I’m involved in or want to do is a thing I do very regularly. Somehow I always manage to bite more that I can chew. Than it comes the inevitable process of scaling back until another big bite.

    Your list is impressive and almost overwhelming but as you say it’s all doable because you don’t do it just once and forget it. All those points are really little things that are repeated through out a day or a week or month. Being conscious of “do the right by…” makes all the difference.

    • Yeah, the “do right by” bit is something I’ve never given enough credence. Oddly enough, taking the ideas more seriously is causing me to slow down rather than speed up. The desire is to make it a long term part of what I do rather than a short term burst. That subtle shift is making a big difference.

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