Thursday, 29 January 2015

The illusion of a lack of time

Inspired by another good #pkmchat today I thought I'd fully planned on expanding upon my ideas of a flipped conference (or un-conference seems to be the newly adopted name for what seems to be essentially the same thing).  I still might, but something at the end of the chat pushed my buttons.  It was the question of time.  The last point posed why don't we organise a conference and the answer from several learning leaders who I have the greatest respect for was 'time'.  Simply put this isn't true.

Yes I believe in the purely physical theory of relativity and have blogged on it before, but this is something slightly different - the age old excuse of 'I don't have time...'  Thing is, I've used the same excuse myself many a time and it's almost always not the actual reason for not doing something.  The real use of 'not enough time' is when the task you have to do by a given deadline will take a greater amount of time than that which remains between now and then.  For example if I want lunch in ten minutes and I want to bake a loaf of bread, I can rightfully proclaim I don't have enough time to achieve this.

So if time isn't the issue what is the issue?  In essence it's need or desire.  Put another way I could say it's actually how important the outcome is to the individual.  For example, if I really want to travel to Auckland from Tauranga (stay with me - pick two cities 2 hours apart anywhere in the world if you want) tonight I can - I still have time as it's only 5.30pm here...  The reason I don't go is it's not important enough for me.  To test that if someone offered me a million dollars to drive to Auckland tonight I'd already be working out how to spend the money on the drive (and wondering what car I'd come back in).  The issue of time wouldn't come in to it at all as it would become a matter of greater importance.

So when someone says 'I don't have time' what they really mean is 'it's not important enough for me to invest the time I have'... and that's probably why we say we don't have time.  It's not because it's literally what we mean, it's just that investing our time in something needs to have some motivator - something we really want to do.  So by saying that one doesn't have time we are able to soften the blow of saying 'you know, I don't really want to, it's just not that important to me'.

Something to keep in mind through all of this is that for the great majority of us we waste enormous amounts of 'time' - whether that's surfing the internet inanely, working in a job we hate, sleeping more than we need, or whatever your poison may be (games?).  Of course, what some people may consider a waste may be vital for us and the way we function - or it may just be procrastination - the difficult thing is working out what holds us back and what is necessary.  I'm sure on some level I don't need 7-8 hours sleep but for me that feels right and I'm comfy with that - but some of the word games I play hold no purpose but to waste some of the time I hold so precious.

Before I end, let me add one point around business and lack of time that my dad used to say to me; if you want something doing ask a busy person, they'll make time.

Next time you use 'I don't have time' just think about what you're really saying and maybe look at what the real reason is - perhaps you should answer more with a question of your own 'why'?