“I’ll do it when I have time.”
Okay so we’ve all had THIS excuse blown out of the water and revealed for the excuse it always was.
Because unless you’re a care worker for your country’s health service, the fact is we all have a little more time here and there (and some people have a lot).
Even those of you with kids at home have (at least those I’ve been talking to) started to settle into a bit of a routine, and you’re getting work done as best you can.
But you’re not traveling. Or going to events. Or going really much of anywhere.
There’s a few drive-by birthday parties, and some of you are in places with a slight release on lockdown so you can actually get food from a restaurant or do some shopping. But still. There’s a lot which isn’t on. And some empty spaces here and there.
Certainly that’s the case for me.
Now that I’ve been in lockdown for over 10 weeks, my routines are more or less ticking away. I’ve found myself (almost unintentionally) starting to move through projects I wasn’t doing before. Last week’s Note was about setting aside an hour a day to work on the Accountant Marketer project (it’s grown arms and legs, and at last count I’ve got 47,285 words in the document), and we’re sorting out PF systems and the team are taking on more and more workshops with clients.
So as I look at the things I’ve actually made progress on, I’m reminded that before, I really didn’t have much time. (I’m sort of shocked at how rushed my life was – how much constant travel with barely a day or so to breathe here and there.)
But it’s never a matter of just “having more time”.
Time on its own is never the answer.
Time wasn’t the answer in week one of lockdown when we were scared and confused and had no idea how bad it all could be.
Time wasn’t the answer in week four of lockdown, when I was bored of everything and still feeling bouts of sadness.
Time isn’t the answer now, when I have in some ways more of it than I’ve ever had before.
I feel like I’m on a sabbatical of sorts – and actually the kind of sabbatical which I always suspected I needed. Not the kind where you are just “off” with nothing to do, and the days and hours go trickling by, but a sabbatical of … less.
Less work: because I’m still working, and we actually have more business than ever, but I’m past the frenetic rushing of the first few weeks. And I’m not doing speaking engagements, which I’ve now realised take literal full days if not full weeks of preparation, when you combine it all together.
Less travel: okay almost none at all. I drive a few miles in my local area, and I walk a few miles each day. No trains, no driving up north into the highlands, no visits to Mull, no flights, no work trips or trips to America or other countries.
Less scheduled events: I still have those for work during the day, but I don’t have a friend coming for dinner on Tuesday and going to someone’s house on Wednesday and going to the church prayer meeting on Thursday and going to the cinema on Friday and then arranging a day out on Saturday… I’m loving being able to ring just about anyone and 90% of the time getting straight through to them (plus they have time to talk).
There’s less of things I love, of course, but I’m trying not to dwell on that. The point is, there’s less of all that, which means I now have space.
Room…for motivation to start inching slowly in.
And THAT is when things get done. Not when you have more time on its own….
…but when you have the combination of time plus motivation.
And my motivation is starting to inch back in, mostly from knowing this will not last.
I’ll learn from this, and hopefully I will do less travel and less craziness and more quiet space and time. (Balanced with actually seeing human beings and having them round in my home!) But eventually, one day, I’ll look up and realise we are into the new ‘phase’ of life which is not the one I’ve gotten used to.
And this very, very quiet time will be done.
This isn’t a rallying cry for being productive or ticking things off a list. I’ve said the whole way through (and I hope I always will say it), that overly focusing on productivity can be dangerous and discouraging.
But when you know it’s not just time, it changes things.
You’ll stop saying “I’ll do that when I have time”, and say “oh wait. I learned that lesson. Time isn’t the reason. What is?”
The thing you said you would do “when you have time”… is it something you really want to do?
Or…not? Do you really want to do it at all?
There are so many reasons I think I want to do something, and use time as my reason I’m not doing it, and then discover it’s something else.
False guilt. (“If I was a good leader/owner/sister/friend/Christian/citizen I’d do this”)
The comparison game. (“That other person is doing it, and look at what they’re achieving”)
An old goal. (“Ten years ago, when I was someone else, I thought this is what I wanted.”)
Imagined expectations. (“If you want influence you have to write a book.”)
What others think. (“Oh you’re so good at that, you need to sell that/start that business/share that”)
Fake news. (“Their video says when they did that, they made money or achieved more in the business”)
The shoulds. (“Someone in my position is supposed to do this.”)
None of those are a good reason to do something. To hit a goal. To finish a project.
And the time excuse has been a cover-up, a sham. It’s been revealed to be what it is: a cover for what’s underneath.
That thing you said you’d do if only you have the time….
….Do you really, actually, want to get it done?
….Or does it not really matter anymore?