Time is precious. We only have so much time available each day. We only live once and if we waste away our life, we don’t get a do-over.
This means that we have to value our time and not let it slip away without our permission. We can’t let it escape or get stolen away.
But the biggest time suck isn’t always clear.
Years ago I heard a saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
The idea is that if there is something that you don’t know, it isn’t always clear to you. It’s like a hole that you can’t see. It is completely invisible to you.
How we spend our time usually falls under this concept. I tend to work to optimize my time at work and at home. I don’t want to waste time and I want to make sure I spend time on the things that are most important.
But sometimes after I push myself to add more to my routine I step back and realize somehow I am now doing more in less time. I have become more efficient. I am doing more than I thought was even possible.
In those instances, I am excited that I have improved some aspect of my life, but I’m also a little frustrated with myself because I never realized I could have already made this improvement.
I didn’t even know it was possible until I started to do it. Then, as I started to see the great benefits, I realized how much more I could actually do.
In order to constantly improve how we spend our time, we have to work to guard our time. It is up to us to stretch and learn about things that we can do to improve.
The systems and habits approach to improvement is great for this because it focuses on the recurring thoughts and behaviors that are below our level of awareness. We go through life following these patterns and never even realize what is happening.
So we see our schedule and think we don’t have time for something we want to do like spending more quality time with family, taking a class at the local college, or exercising. But if you observed yourself for a week to see how you spend your time you would see hours each day watching TV or several hours a day of playing around on social media.
We are squandering our time and not guarding it against waste. We don’t know what we don’t know so we never even realize what we are doing wrong. We don’t see how to improve because this is a blind spot. All we know is that it feels like we are always busy and therefore must not have the time.
Until we start to guard our time and truly value the time we have we won’t realize how much more is possible. We will only see what we currently do and assume we are maximizing our time. But there is always more that we can do and a great first step is to start to take control of the systems and habits in our lives.