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.
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.
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.