What’s The Rush? Take Your Time To Do It
Are you suffering from time-urgency? Also known as hurry-sickness, this is the state of being where you are trying to do too much at once and thereby reduce your effectiveness.
I’ve suffered from this ailment ever since I learned what it was after reading Affluenza by John de Graaf, et al. I wanted to read shelves and shelves of books and never had the time, and I would end up speed reading , a self-defeating tactic whereby your skim through a book and don’t process it properly. I wanted to practice and perfect jazz on my drum set; I wanted to learn how to draw realistic looking people; I wanted to practice basketball dribbling skills; I wanted to write novels; I wanted to learn to code and create my own apps; I wanted to catch up on a lot of video games and TV shows I hadn’t enjoyed yet.
As you can see, I had too much on my plate because each activity required lots of time, and unless you have all day every day to work on things, you will quickly fall apart. But I ask you, what is the rush? What is your plan?
I realized I couldn’t enjoy playing video games if I felt rushed to complete them and get onto the next. I knew I literally did not have the time to watch the TV shows I wanted, so it would be best to just focus on one and not worry about the time (another reason why I don’t like how streaming services yank movies eventually). I had to read the books I felt most like reading, not what seemed important to read, even if it meant I learned less. I had to make tiny goals when it came to drawing. I have a small practice pad to play drum rudiments on that I bring out for maybe 5 minutes. I gave up the basketball since it wasn’t priority, I wrote some of a novel and enjoyed the process, but I can pause it for other things since I’m not on any deadline and have no dreams to be a popular author. I started a course to learn how to code, but I can tell I can’t give myself a timeline to learn how to code an app because it would be too stressful, so I am using a more gradual 5-year plan.
Some things you have to slow down or stop altogether. Others you investigate why you want to do it (some of my things were nothing more than recapturing childhood activities that brought me joy) and set its priority accordingly. Top priority things need to have a place in your daily schedule, if you have people you live with, it’s imperative to communicate with them what exactly you will be working on and how you need time to do it. For me, that might mean some things wait until my kid is in bed, but I try not to do that everyday because I have a lot more creative energy in the morning. With this information we can create a step one.
- Write a list of every extra thing you want to do.
- Calculate how much time each item would take for you to reach your desired goal.
- Pare your list down to one top priority item. Be ruthless.
- Where in your daily schedule will you be able to do this one thing? Would you have the time if you removed screen time? Can you do this thing every day or will you burn out? Why would you burn out?
- Ask yourself again if your thing is really top priority.
- If you have extra time in your day, add one of your fun items to the list.
At this point, you need to refuse to attempt any of your other items until you’ve gone two weeks with your first two choices. If, after two weeks, you can fit more into your schedule, go ahead and do so.
This is the start of beginning to take your time doing things. Many of the best pleasures in life take time to achieve. No one gets a beach body overnight if they are starting from a dad-bod position. No one can read every classic in a week. No one is an expert on an instrument in a month.
Your best goals will take time and there is no way to rush them. Sure, you can work on your goals with greater efficiency by using hacks or shortcuts, but you will have to work on them all the same. I remember Tim Ferriss’s TV show where he learned things super fast. I couldn’t help but notice how he spent all day every day working at a task until he had it learned. The show would have been better if he had only an hour a week to learn something. The truth is, you are not a millionaire with all the time in the world to grind and cram a skill. I also remember Scott Young, an expert on fast learning, taking a month to learn how to draw a skilled portrait of himself. Again, what stood out is how he worked at it for 8 hours every day. Most of us don’t have that kind of time.
In other words, you are not going to impress anyone with how quickly you learn something, or how much of it you cram into a small space of time. Chances are you have bills to pay, children to look after, relationships that take priority, and a full-time job with a commute that steals most of your productive energy. The free time you are waiting on (for many, that’s retirement) will NEVER come. When, or if, it does come you will not do anything but veg out.
The cure for time urgency is to do the things you are wanting to do, and to do them right, which means taking your time. As I laid out for you, you need a plan to isolate the most important things. For example, last year I stopped my reading challenge (to read 300 books) to learn how to be a freelance editor. I spent all of my free time reading grammar books and taking a course on proofreading academy. My goal is to work remotely, making enough to meet my needs, but also to have extra free time so I can work on learning to code. I had to shelve learning to code because a new development in my plan became possible (I was in a place where I needed to leave my day job, it was becoming soul crushing, and you can’t pursue lofty goals when your soul is being crushed).
Even if it takes me a few years to get on my feet, so be it, if you rush, the only person you cheat is yourself, and that means a permanent cycle of starting something new and failing within weeks (like the joke memes about January gym memberships). You need a plan, and you need to see that good things take time. Now is the time to start. You have a lot things you want to do and you can’t wait until retirement to do it. Create your plan and execute.