This post originally appeared here in Illumination.
The Hard Truth About Why You Refuse To Protect Your Time
We seem to imagine that important people are busy and always overworked. So is it right to conclude that busy and overworked people are important?
Unfortunately, not. But that does not stop us from letting it happen all the time. Most are happy being frugal with money, but when it comes to spending our time, we allow others to control how and what we do with it.
We think too little about wasting the time that makes up the sum total of our lives. If life is short, then time is fast. Where you give your time equals a portion of your life that you will never get back.
You should be the toughest miser when it comes to the precious time allocated to you. So why won’t you protect your time?
Saying “No” to people is not the easiest thing to do, yet it’s one of the most powerful skills you need to have to be effective.
Your time is both completely yours and at the same time, it’s not. If you thought that everyone around you should be respectful of your time, or that they’d understand how precious your minutes are, I’m sorry to burst your cute little bubble.
Making yourself a priority is your responsibility. That’s not to say that others are kicked out of your list when you put yourself first. It just means that you see the importance of allowing your life to run smoothly so you can bring your best self to your other needs and challenges.
When you’re on a flexible work schedule, sometimes friends and family automatically assume you’re available all the time. They might call in to ask that you take their dog for a walk, pick up their kid from school, drop by the grocery store, or just sit around waiting for them to drop in unannounced.
At times like these, it’s difficult to say “No” because you don’t want to seem selfish and you don’t want to look like the bad guy. So you reluctantly agree, when you really want to decline.
You spend your time working on what others want out of obligation. You’re not in charge of your day as you would like to. You’re resentful of others and feel that they should not have placed their demands on you.
Saying “No” to people is not the easiest thing to do, yet it’s one of the most powerful skills you need to have to be effective. It will make you feel more empowered and in control of your life.
How can you expect others to respect your time when you don’t?
Quit telling yourself the lie that you can’t change just because that’s your nature or you’re born like that. You might want to believe you have no other options, but I beg to defer.
You always have freedom of choice. You are exercising them every minute and every day. Maybe you ought to confront the reality that perhaps, you don’t want to change. Because if you do, you surely can. You are an amazing human being filled with unlimited potential. You always have a choice.
The first step to protecting your time is not to hold yourself back. Be bold to determine what’s acceptable and what’s not. How can you expect others to respect your time when you don’t? Value your time as your most important asset.
Consider how often you feel out of control, distracted, or even angry. You resent everyone for bugging you when you’re trying to get your work done. This will only distract you further. It will not solve your problem until you recognize and accept that this is your life and you are responsible for how and where you spend your time.
Are you going to continue living life on other people’s terms, or are you going to pluck up the courage to live on your terms?
Should you continue to blame others for your lack of priorities? The truth is, you don’t value yourself enough. You don’t think you deserve to be on top of your list. There is a myth that says setting yourself as a number one priority is selfish, and unconsciously you bought in to that lie.
That’s why you stretch until you break. You fight the struggles of being bombarded with multiple distractions, from incoming emails, text notifications, to chatty co-workers and nosy neighbors. There are always reasons as to why you can’t accomplish anything.
You default to your weaknesses, constantly pulling out a phone to see what’s going on. You stayed on a little longer as your neighbor babbles on about something you clearly have no interest in. You don’t want to appear rude, so you allow the minor distractions to nibble away at your time. At the end of another busy day, and you look back and wonder, “Where did the time go?”
It’s really up to you to avoid letting interruptions mess up your productivity. Start to attach value to your time. There is no point coming up with a great listicle about “How to Manage Your Time Better” if you do not, first of all, see you are worth it.
Stay Accountable To Yourself
Have a high level of integrity with yourself by doing what you say you will do. Hold yourself accountable to the priorities you set. If you believe you are worthy of a stress-free life, you will not take abuse from others. If you believe you are worthy of being happy, you will not engage in self-sabotaging behaviors.
Examine and change your beliefs. Effectively manage yourself and your time by setting clear boundaries. Believe that you’re entitled and that you deserve a more balanced life so that you’ll not become burned out.
When you’re able to stay focused on your most important priority, which is you, you are then better able to give the best of yourself to those you love. By giving your time the attention and protection it deserves, you can ensure that every moment you have will be used wisely and with intention.