TIME AS A TOOL
Updated: Apr 10
Over the years, I’ve picked up a number of tools for mastering the different areas of my life.
Tools for strengthening the body and sharpening the mind.
Tools for connecting deeply with others.
Each and every one of these tools has had a profound impact on my life.
They have shown me how and where to place my time, energy, and attention, such that my life is useful.
In this article, I will be sharing a number of tools I use regularly to keep myself moving forward and my life on track.
The Tools of Time
All of the tools I will be sharing in this article have one thing in common—time.
In fact, all tools, all disciplines, all endeavors we undertake, involve time.
Time is always taking place; it cannot be escaped.
Knowing this, we can harness and utilize time, turning it into a tool that supports us on the path.
i. Just Five minutes
The first tool we’ll be looking at is excellent for overcoming procrastination and developing new disciplines.
I use it every day.
Here’s how it works:
Set a timer for 5-minutes
Click “start” on the timer
Do the thing you’re committed to doing
Stop when the timer goes off
You see, one of the hardest parts about getting things done is just getting started.
Think about it—have you ever made the commitment to go for a run or workout, then absolutely not wanted to go for a run or workout when the time rolls around?
Of course you have—we all have!
So what likely took place is 1 of 2 things:
You talked yourself out of the workout
You bit down and pushed your way through the workout
Now, assuming you didn’t talk yourself out of it, what happened after 10-15-minutes of biting down? Was the workout as terrible as you had imagined?
Did it suck heavily for the entire duration? (this does happen from time to time) Or did you find your groove, start having fun, start to enjoy yourself?
Even if you have hated the whole thing, surely there’s been a number of times where this wasn’t the case; where you got yourself moving and everything became easy, perhaps even enjoyable.
That’s what we’re talking about here.
Just getting started.
Starting with just five minutes of meditation.
Just 5-minutes of work.
Just 5-minutes of calling leads.
Perhaps the whole time you’re doing your 5-minutes sucks, perhaps not.
In the end it doesn’t really matter.
What matters is, you sat down and got started.
What matters is, you showed up.
A further note…
Once you show up for 5-minutes and your buzzer goes off, you can always set it for another 5.
These little increments of time make it much easier to keep the work going.
Tiny milestones, there’s a sense of accomplishment felt every time the timer rings.
Experiment with different increments of time for different tasks.
Personally, I do 20-minute increments for work and 5-minute increments for movement and meditation practices.
Find what works for you.
The second tool we’re looking at is deadlines.
Deadlines are very useful when it comes to getting things done.
I use them for everything.
In fact, this very article is being written due to a deadline.
Do you think I would ever sit down and hammer this out without having some sort of external commitment set?
And that’s the power of deadlines—they create a marker in time in which we must complete whatever it is we have committed to.
Think back to your school days.
If you were anything like me, you waited until the last minute to complete a project or write a paper.
Even though I knew I “should” be working on it, I didn’t.
The date would draw nearer and nearer and I knew I MUST get to work or I was doomed!
The night before it was due, I would pour a big ol’ bowl of cereal, put on some jams (music, not pajamas), and under pressure of an 8AM deadline, stay up all night getting it done.
That's the power of deadlines—they create a pull towards our goals and aspirations versus a push.
They give us new energy and inspiration, just by existing!
But perhaps you’re not like me, and you prefer to get things done ahead of time.
Well, if that’s the case, you’re already using deadlines.
They may not be overt, written down, or verbally spoken—but you are still holding yourself to finalizing things by a certain time.
If you did that in school, I encourage you to continue doing it now in your day to day life:
Create deadlines for completing x amount of mediations
Create deadlines for earning x amount of dollars
Create deadlines for taking your woman on x amount of dates
Take a moment right now and commit to completing just (1) very important task by a certain time.
Write that commitment down, put it on your calendar and get after it.
For additional support, share your commitment with the Tribe community in our Facebook Group.
There’s nothing like the potential for a good public shaming to get you up and at 'em!
III. Time Estimates
The third powerful tool of time is time estimates.
These look like this—
Lets say we create a to-do list:
Connect with Mark around January photo shoot
Call Daniel about renewing insurance
Spend time at the beach recharging
Write an article for Peter’s website
After we’ve made the list (or while we’re making it) write out time estimates of how long each task may take.
These don’t have to be perfect, just ballpark guesses.
It might look like this:
Connect with Mark around January photo shoot (5m)
Call Daniel about renewing insurance (15m)
Spend time at the beach recharging (60m)
Write an article for Peter’s website (120m)
Two things happen when we do this:
We have more information to use when scheduling/plotting how we’ll be spending our time
We quiet that part of the brain that says “Call Daniel about insurance? How long is THAT going to take?”
Shutting that part of the brain up when we have things to do is wonderful.
Less distractions, less talking ourselves out of important tasks.
Give it a go.
Create a quick to-do list for today or tomorrow and jot down how long you think each task will take to complete.
The more you do this, the more accurate your predictions will be come, and the more accurate your predictions become, the better you become at time (and energy) management.
I don’t think I’ve written an article to date on the Tribe website that doesn’t talk about reviews.
And for good reason—
Reviews are damn important!
You see, much like deadlines, making the commitment to sit down and review what’s taken place gives us a marker in time for:
Celebrating our successes
Creating a solid plan moving forward
Taking powerful action
Every week on either a Sunday or Monday (depends on my schedule), I sit down and review the previous week.
I look at what I’ve learned, what worked out, what didn’t, and what needs to happen moving forward.
Why? Because reflecting and reviewing is crucial for ensuring we are moving the right direction.
Things change, and over time our goals and aspirations, or the path we take to achieve them will likely change.
Having a regular review practice allows us to look at what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to be adjusted moving forward.
By adding a 30-60-minute block of time to your calendar weekly for reviews, this is easily accomplished.
If you’re new to reviews, or the commitment of doing them weekly seems unlikely, you’re welcome to join my monthly accountability calls on Patreon, where we reflect on the wins and losses of the month prior and make commitments for the month upcoming.
In closing, time is a powerful tool that pervades each and every area of our life.
Knowing this, we can use time in ways that support us on the path.
5-minute commitments can help us get started on difficult tasks, and deadlines can help us wrap them up.
Through time estimates, we can better manage our time and we can use regular reviews to reflect on what's working and what's not.
For more tricks and tools using time as a tool, watch this replay of my monthly accountability call on Patreon.
Have any tips of your own?
Share them in the Tribe Facebook Group.