August 29, 2022

Reading time: minutes

How often do you say, "I don't have time"? What if there were ways you could take ownership of how you experience time in your life?

I’ve just finished reading The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, and I really enjoyed it. In particular, I got a lot out of his take on time. 

The scarce kind of time

Chapter 6 of The Big Leap is called “Living in Einstein Time.” In it, Hendricks points out that when we feel a scarcity of time, or when we say “I can’t do X because I don't have enough time to,” we’re living in “Newtonian time.”

Newtonian time" is the kind of time that’s finite and must be portioned out carefully so that we can do the things we need to do. 

The things we merely want to do often have to take a back seat or be abandoned all together, because in this paradigm there is never quite enough time. Time is scarce. Time is money. Time drives us. Time is associated with an uncomfortable feeling of urgency and stress, even victimization.

Who's in charge?

After describing “Newtonian time,” Hendricks introduces the concept of “Einstein time." (Einstein time is also called "Relativistic Time," and it is fascinating. Check it out here.)

Einstein is said to have described relativity with something along these lines: "an hour with your beloved feels like a minute, and a minute on a hot stove feels like an hour." (An effort to find the exact quote was made here.)

In other words, how you experience time is a function of, well, how you experience time. And who is in charge of that?

Your answer will depend partly on whether you have a reactive approach to life, or a proactive approach.

With a reactive approach, first life happens to you and then you react. It’s a game of dominoes in which you are a domino somewhere in the middle. Something acts on a domino further back along the line, and its consequences travel down the line of events, knocking you flat along the way.

With a proactive approach, you look for ways to be the something that acts on the earlier domino. 

A proactive approach has to do with looking for ways to “set yourself up for success,” and using "prior and proper preparation to prevent poor performance," as a mentor of mine used to say.

"I don't have time..."

IThe Big Leap, Hendricks suggests that we quit thinking of time as something that’s “out there,” happening to us, and take ownership of how we experience time. 

He says:

To generate an abundance of time, ask yourself, 'Where in my life am I not taking full responsibility?'” 

~ Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap 

When you say, “I don’t have time to do X,” you’re lying to yourself and the person you’re speaking to.

The truth would be something more like,“I don't want to do X.”

Or, “I would rather do Y than X."

When you say, "I don't have time," you’re blaming your inability or reluctance to do X on an external thing, an out there, happening-to-you-without-your-consent thing, which you call “time.” 

Time’s victim

By placing time “out there,” rather than “in here,” you shift the responsibility for your choices away from yourself. You make it "not my fault."

But by making it "not my fault," you also make it "not my choice," and thus you become time’s victim. 

When we lie to ourselves and others in this way, we have the best intentions about looking good to the other person or not offending the other person. 

And sometimes, we don’t even realize it’s a lie. We've even fooled ourselves. We truly think we haven't got time because we’re existing somewhere in the middle of all the dominoes and not paying attention to what’s happening back up the line. 

But these lies keep us trapped in a state of being that lacks personal sovereignty, integrity, and power. They keep us trapped in a state of scarcity and lack, in this case, a lack of time. 

"I choose..."

So how can we follow Hendricks' advice, and take ownership of this game we are playing with time?

Try this:

  1. Get in the habit of noticing how often you say “I don’t have time to do X," and the many variations on that statement. 
  2. Replace “I don't have time to do X,” with, “I choose not to do X, because Y.”

At first it will be hard to remember, and possibly very uncomfortable. But gradually, if you keep it up, you'll notice that the more responsibility you take the more choices you have. 

You are building personal sovereignty and dismantling the lies that have been keeping you trapped in a scarcity of time. 

Finally, some questions for you to ponder...

  • Are you a bit addicted to the tension of "not enough time?" 
  • Is it possible that "not enough time" is serving you on some level that you haven't explored?
  • Or are you ready to be done with being time's victim, and get your life back?

Please comment...

Please share your thoughts in response to the questions I finished with, or anything else that came up for you as you read...

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  • Thanks for sharing Kate – I always want to share the best bits of books I read as well. I often talk about “making” time. I have two kids and run an association and don’t “have” time for anything, there’s no such thing as free time, I just decide what I want to make time for in my life and what not to. This may explain why my to do lists get done irregularly! Going to spend some time now reading the Einstein link, it sounds interesting.

    • Hi Lou, there’s no such thing as free time in my life, either, and that has become something I’d like to change. I’ve begun to seriously question the assumption that to live a worthwhile life means having no free time! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Thanks Kate,
    I love this concept. Having just read Less is More by Jason Hickel which has a fantastic history of Capitalism (back to the 1500s) and how it has relied on the idea of scarcity to keep people productive, I cant help but feel that the concept of scarcity of time is all caught up with that narrative. How freeing to let it go!

    • Hi Sophie, yes, I’m quite sure that scarcity of time is tangled up with all the other artificial scarcities that underpin our systems and institutions. And yes, how freeing to let it all go, one sordid piece at a time or even all at once!! Thanks for commenting 🙂 And thanks for the book tip too, I’ll check it out.

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