super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others

“I don’t have time” and other bullshit we tell ourselves

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(know that meme)

A couple of years ago, when I was all “yay, I have a Kindle! I want to download all the eBooks on the internet!”, a friend recommended a book called How to Live on 24 hours a Day. The title sounded a little silly but I downloaded it anyway for three main reasons: 1) it was free (and I’m a sucker for a bargain), 2) it was short, 3) it got me one book closer to that “all the eBooks on the internet” goal mentioned above. I started reading it with the often misguided low expectations I have of some free stuff  but it turned out to be one of the most enlightening books I’ve read in a while.

How to Live on 24 hours a Day sounds a little like “How to Inhale and Exhale Repeatedly to Avoid Death”. I thought to myself “I’m living. My days have 24 hours. So yeah, I think I’ve got it covered”. Some people (me) need the really obvious stuff spelled out to them. Some people (me) need a book from the early 1900s to tell them to get off Facebook and start making better use of their free time. To live rather than exist, as I think the author puts it at some point.

So, basically, I had a dude from last century schooling me on how to deal with my busy working life as a young adult in the 21st century.

Awesome.

Turns out this book, which is now 113 years old (!) is one of the earliest self-help books ever written. I read a self-help book. But it’s ok. I actually learned stuff. Plus, it’s philosophical in a way that I’m not sure other self-help books are. I haven’t read any others. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

But anyway, where was I? 24 hour days. Right. We’ve got lots of those. They come around every day. For the longest time, I got used to dismissing the entire five days of the work week as time when I couldn’t fit anything else in because I was working all day long.

The word you’re looking for is “bullshit”.

Let’s do some math (there’s something you won’t catch me saying very often): I work 8 hours a day. Add an hour for the commute. That’s nine hours. The day has 24. Nine and 24 aren’t even close together, there’s a whole bunch of other numbers in between. Sure, I sleep about 6 or 7 hours every night (on a good night), but that’s only a total of 15 or 16 hours dedicated to working and sleeping (I’m really kicking ass at these calculations, I wish my 7th grade Math teacher was reading this). Anyway, 15 or 16 hours a day for work + sleep. This leaves a whole other third of the day for other stuff. Stuff I didn’t feel like I had time to do. I know it sounds incredibly obvious now but I wanted to smack myself in the face when I read that book. What a load of bullshit I had been telling myself with that “I work all day” crap. I work a third of the day. It might be the best third – when the sun is out – but, mathematically speaking, it’s still only a third. The rest of the time is mine. And I had been wasting it on nothing.

What I’m trying to say is that, more than Runner’s World, online training plans or books by famous marathoners and ultrarunners, it was a time management book over 100 years old that helped me with all the running I’ve been doing.

So, just in case you suffer from the same problem as me, I thought I’d tell you that, like me, you’re just full of crap. You’ve got plenty of time. Safely remove that USB, it’s ok. You’re not in that big a rush. And the stuff you wish you could do during the week when you’re not working? Look at all that time you’ve got to actually do it! If the time you spent at work today felt like it was very long, it’s because it was. The good news is that you have another good few hours ahead of you to get stuff done. So wait for that You Tube video to fully load. Watch Jodie Foster’s Golden Globe speech in its entirety. Go nuts and read those terms and conditions (just kidding, ain’t nobody got time for that).

Every time I hear someone tell me they would love to get into running too but they just don’t have the time, I have to wait a few seconds to let my brain go from the instinctive “are you trying to say you’re busier than me? Because I’ll have you know I’m pretty god damn busy!” to something a little more grownup (but also patronising as hell) like “as a matter of fact, you do have time for that, if you really want to do it. You might just not be managing your time right.”

I still have a massive time management problem but I’m much more aware of it now. There are a bunch of things I wish I “had time” to do. I wish I was a morning person (or, alternatively, I wish I could show up for work at 11ish) so I could sit down for breakfast or properly dry my hair instead of the 30 second blow dry that leaves it just slightly-less-wet-but-definitely-nowhere-near-dry. I wish I had time every evening to prepare my lunch for the next day instead of resorting to the atrocious service and stupidly high prices of the cafe at work. But I guess what it boils down to is that I don’t really care enough about these things. Otherwise I’d find the time. If I don’t really want to do something, I’ll find an excuse not to do it. If I really want to do something, I’ll find the time.

Whoa. Enlightenment.

So, the bottom line is, I don’t have time for running because I’m any less busy than anyone else. I’ve got time for running because I really freaking love doing it and, so, I make time for it.

Bennett wrote in this book (that, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m highly recommending here): “We never shall have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is.”

So, if you want to run, get off your ass and run.

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30 thoughts on ““I don’t have time” and other bullshit we tell ourselves

  1. Ok two things… 1. we walked around all marathon weekend saying “ain’t nobody got time for that” so that meme seemed oddly appropriate for my life and 2. this post is so painfully true that I too must need to read the first self-help book ever. Thanks for sharing your enlightenment with us 😉

  2. Haha, love the punch line at the end, BOOM! Your posts brighten my day Vera, keep ’em coming. But don’t get yourself fired by blogging too much during work hours because then you’ll have an extra 9 hours in your day so I’ll be expecting you to start doing ultra marathons.

    • Thanks Sarah! I actually wrote this post at 2AM last night (then thought I’d let it simmer overnight because I was too tired to re-read it). I ended up sleeping 5 hours and now I feel a bit yuck… the irony is not lost in me!

  3. Great post! I get the same “ain’t got time” from plenty of people when I mention running. Its pathetic. I admit there are a few days I feel like crap and don’t “feel” like it, but I make time when I want to. Normally I have to run right after work due to laziness the morning..though I would benefit a pre work run.

    • Thanks! I’m the same as you. I wish I could become a morning person. On the other hand, few things beat a post-work run to get rid of the stress of the day or an 11pm gym session when the place is mostly empty.

  4. LOVE! My theory has always been that running makes the time I DO have doing other stuff that much more effective, so I look at it as a matter of efficiencies. If I don’t make the time to run, guess what, I’ll pay for it elsewhere, like being too spazzy to get my work done in the amount of time it should take me…
    finding and dowloading to my kindle ASAP! Thanks 🙂

  5. Reblogged this on Kash of All Trades and commented:
    This is a GREAT blog post!! Make time for yourself!

  6. ::commence slow clap:: I reblogged. This is fantastic.

  7. I love this and your humor. I say the same thing all.the.time. I don’t have time, I make time. With two small kiddos who are small enough to need constant supervision but big enough that I refuse to heave-ho them in the jogging stroller, the time that I make for running is 5am. Yawn.

    Thank you for the picture. I’ll be singing Sweet Brown in my sleep tonight. My husband will love that.

  8. Maybe it’s just having a new job but I had that thought yesterday, ie, it’s only 8 hours out of 24!! Sure, I need at least 8 hours sleep (actually trying for a 9th) and it’s about an hour commuting but hey, that leaves…humm…a lot of other hours to do stuff! I do get up 2 hours bf I need to leave for work as I like to find the time to walk the dog, have breakfast And dry my hair 🙂

  9. hehe loved the post!! I guess that’s because I totally see myself in it! 😛 Usually I complain “I don’t have much time to do other stuff”, because I already do too many stuff (besides work and sleep) and I’m very happy that way…I don’t really see myself sitting in front of the TV on a saturday or sunday cause I feel like a marinated vegetable and very useless. lol Usually I get from people…”how the hell do you find the time to do all the things you do?!?!” xD I guess I’m gonna start forwarding this post to everyone that tells me that! 🙂 You go out and run girl!!! 🙂 xoxo

    • Thanks Carla! 😀 I’m totally the same. I know I’ll continue to say to people “I don’t have time for that” when they ask me to do something but the subtext will always be “I don’t actually want to do it enough to make time for it”. Beijinhos!

  10. I’m a new follower and dude, this was so right up my alley. Two years ago I would have said the same thing and finally last year I stopped turning on the television the second I got home from work and BAM, I gots time yo. I started running and “finding” time for it. So, now I do the same thing you do whenever someone says they wishes they had time to do that. They do have time, they just have to want to do it.

    Totally awesome post.

  11. Perfect! Thank you for getting me to sit down and reflect about this!

  12. just read it in one go – quite worth it! 😀

  13. YES! If you care about something, you make time for it. I also have little tolerance for someone saying “You must have more time/energy/etc.” It’s time management, figuring out what is important, and figuring out how to setup the conditions to make the things you want to happen actually happen. You are awesome… especially for the several “ain’t nobody got time for that” references. I refer to said video regularly… 🙂

  14. Pingback: Seven things you should never say to a runner | super generic girl

  15. Funny and true! Just shared this on fb. Xx

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