I listened to Seth Godin’s podcast the other day. I listen to every episode of Akimbo and I encourage you to try it out. This episode was called “Opportunity cost” and Seth was sharing his thoughts on time. It got me thinking as well, as Seth’s podcasts always do, so here are my thoughts on time and how we can relate to it.
Measuring time in the way we do is a pretty new phenomena. Before there were railroads there was no need for keeping score of time that accurately, but now there was a time table to consider and minutes was of the essence. Today we think about time in everything we do. We have timetables, schedules, and appointments. We estimate how long time a project requires. We work according to different techniques such as Scrum or Pomodoro that have well defined time frames. We stretch ourselves to carve out the time for doing all of the things we want to do. Yet there never seems to be enough hours in a day. We always fall short of our to-do list and we keep postponing things to the next day or some other day. That blog post that never got written, that book that never was read, that run that never was initiated.
But there are some people who seem to be able to do it all. There are some people who always seem to find the time to write that blog post, read that book and go for a run. Like Seth, for instance, who has published a blog post every single day for the last seven years or so. How does he do that?
In the podcast episode, Seth discussed eating lunch. Most of us tend to eat lunch every day. It’s not something that we might do if we find the time to do it. We simply do it. When you think about it, there are several activities that you do every day that you always do, no matter what. These activities are inside the circle of what you do every day. Things that are outside of that circle are optional. You might get around to them today, or maybe you won’t.
Things that are within the circle are non-negotiable. You always do them. Every single day. No matter what. Like eating lunch and brushing your teeth, but also things like doing yoga, reading a book, drawing, or playing an instrument. Or whatever you want to put inside your circle. It’s not an option to say I’ll write that blog post tomorrow, if it’s inside your circle, you do it every day. The things that are outside your circle are optional and you might have the time to do them.
We use this saying of “carving out time” for doing things that we really want to do. How do I carve out the time to do that yoga, read that book or record that podcast episode? Seth suggests that we need to stop trying to carve out time for things that we really want to do every day. If it’s inside the circle we do it, and the rest of life will simply have to organize itself around that. You need to have a change of mindset, of how you approach your lifelong learning and achievements.
Seth also posed the question of whether you’re passing or spending time. Binge-watching series on Netflix is merely passing the time. A time that you’ll never get back. What if you spent that time deliberately instead? What could you accomplish? If you’re living for the weekends, just wanting the time in between to pass as quickly as possible, you’re not using your full potential. You can level up by spending your time instead. Even with a full-time job and commute there are still several hours in a day that you can spend on things that are meaningful to you. What will you spend them on?
Think about what you want to put inside your circle. Not what you think you should put in your circle. Not what you think others expect that you should put in your circle. This is your circle, not somebody else’s. You only need to make the decision once. If it’s inside the circle, it’s non-negotiable. You do it every day, just like eating lunch.
“Go make a ruckus!” – Seth Godin