Time Commitments: Temporary and Long-Term

One of the things that happens when people learn about Awesomeography, and its underlying question, "What's stopping you from making something awesome?", is that I will get a list of all of that person's time commitments. More often than not, if someone's going to be just a little bitter or defensive about one of the categories of what's stopping them, it'll be Time. I think that's because Time feels like the thing that, with just effort, we could overcome, if we just pushed a little harder, then we should be able to magically have more Time. 

Illustration by David Rose.

Illustration by David Rose.

Which is ridiculous. There are often very good reasons why you might not have time, and feeling bad about it won't change anything. Skill is the thing that you just need to put more effort into it to make it happen, but often Skill doesn't feel like that. Time does. 

So I'll get a list of time commitments, sometimes with a hint of an, "I dare you to tell me that I have more time than I have," sort of attitude. That's not really something I can do upon first meeting someone, and it's not something I want to do. I can't prioritize your life, but I can try to help you do that for yourself. 

For the purposes of this article, there are two major kinds of commitments: commitments that you know will end in the near future, and commitments that you cannot predict an ending for, but presume they will be ongoing for months, years, or decades.

Your ongoing commitments are: work, relationship building, child raising, sleep, and so on. Ongoing commitments are vital to maintain and you are not going to be rid of them.

Your temporary commitments are: houseguests, helping a sick person who will recover soon, funerals and related matters, having a slower method of transportation while your vehicle is being worked on, or whatever. Temporary commitments are important, but will go away soon.

You need to remember how to handle each commitment in such a way as to avoid it preventing you from making your awesome thing. The temporary commitments are often very disruptive and will break whatever habits you've built up over the minutes/hours/days/weeks/months/years to allow you to make a thing. The trick with those is being prepared for the end and to get right back into your creation of things.

I've just finished about 11 days of crunch time standing in a parking lot testing robots. It's prevented me from doing just about anything other than waking up, going to work, coming home, and going to sleep. However, that ended after a week and a half.  After a brief rest to get my sleep schedule back in order, I started back into writing articles (this one, for example) and finding new ways to make the site better.

With temporary commitments, you can do the same thing. Focus on your new commitments, handle them properly, and move on. 

With permanent commitments, you have a different sort of problem. You can't wait for them to end and expect to get anywhere with your awesome projects. With long-term commitments, you optimize and fix things so that they work better. Find a faster path to and from work. Have the children help with chores. Stop having the kids help with chores, because it makes things faster. Adjust expectations at work so they know you will be going home at a decent time. Whatever has some give, optimize it so that you can fit in 30-60 minutes per day to work on your thing. 

Remember: expecting long-term commitments to disappear will be a long, long wait. Similarly, trying to optimize your workflow around temporary commitments will take more time than you're going to save. Recognize the type, and act accordingly, and you will have more time for the things you want to do.