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Creating Time
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Creating Time


Twelve questions to help you make better decisions about your time...and your life

Twelve questions to help you make better decisions about your time...and your life

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  • 1. Creating Time Twelve steps to changing your relationship with time By Paul Reali
  • 2. Once upon a time, there was a person who felt like life was out of control. Let’s call that person you. Let’s call that time now. This is your story, or it can be, if you decide to make it so.
  • 3. In order to help get your life under control, you tried every form of time management there is. You even tried inventing your own system. Nothing helped with the onslaught of tasks and obligations. Nothing helped with the stress. Nothing helped suppress that feeling that something was missing, something was wrong. Then you realized something important.
  • 4. You cannot manage time. There is no such animal as time management. No: time is not something you can manage. You can’t spend it, you can’t save it, and you can’t waste it. Why not? Because time is not something outside of you. You are time. Time is the stuff of life: it is what your life is made of. Life is a series of decisions; therefore, time is a series of decisions.
  • 5. What you needed was a way to make better decisions about time…a different way to think about time. This is it: a philosophy, with tools, called “Creating Time.” This is exactly what it sounds like: you will be able to create time where there was no time. How? Not with magic, but by making better decisions about what you do, and how you do it.
  • 6. Here is the theory of Creating Time in a nutshell. Everyone does not have the same 24 hours every day. Because you are time, your 24 hours must be different than everyone else’s. And, because you are in control of yourself, and therefore of your time, you can create time for whatever you choose. You can create time where you thought there was no time. Where others do not have time. There are two layers to this: understanding yourself, and understanding your tasks. Each layer will require that you answer six questions. Twelve questions, like the 12 hours on a clock.
  • 7. Before you can begin to make good decisions about any task or obligation, you first need to answer a few questions about yourself. These are macro questions: large questions, questions which are about you, not about the things you have to do. The answers to these questions become the lens through which you will see everything that you do – they will be your guide for making better decisions. These six questions should be familiar to you: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
  • 8. The first question is why. Why do you want to Create Time? What will you do with the time you create? If you become more efficient at work, getting 40 hours of work done in 30 hours, your reward is more work. That’s not much incentive. If, on the other hand, you want to have time to be a more active parent, or to write that novel, or learn a new language, or travel, or train for a marathon, or save your marriage…now we’re getting somewhere. So, question one: Why do you want to create time?
  • 9. The second question is who. Who are you? This is an important and difficult question, and it is about that crucial and under-discussed idea of identity. Who are you? Are you the person you imagine yourself to be? Here is a way to try and get at the answer. Write down a description, or story, of the idealized version of yourself – the you that you want to be. Think in context: your home self, your work self, your solo self. It does not matter, for the moment, how near or far you are from this self. You will use this ideal self later, to help you make decisions about what and how you do things.
  • 10. The third question is what. This takes several forms, and all have to do with what you should be doing with your life. Begin with these: What should you be doing with your life? What work should you be doing? What should you do with your free time? What brings you joy? What are you doing that brings you stress and pain and boredom and regret? What would you like to accomplish? For what would you want to be remembered?
  • 11. The fourth question is where. There are two main where questions: Where should you live? That is, what country, state, city, neighborhood, house. And, where should you work? That is, what industry, company, department, team. For some people, where is unimportant, unrelated to those other questions. For others, the where cannot be separated from Why and Who and What. Some people blame their where for their limitations. “I could be this, if only I were there.” But as Stephen Covey said, argue for your weakness, and it’s yours.
  • 12. The fifth question is when. When is the right time to…do or be or try or…whatever it is you are attempting. In many ways, when is a conundrum. “Now” is not always the right answer. You may need to finish your degree first. You may need to wait until you are married. You may need to wait until your children are in school. But you can see here how when becomes an excuse not to act. Face this: when is most likely now. You do not need to wait to be the person you think you should be. And if the what and the where need to change, you can begin the process now.
  • 13. The final macro question is how. The essence of this is: How will I find the strength and resources to become the person I imagine myself to be? For some the question is spiritual, for some it is practical. Generally, resolve is not enough, or we would only have to make New Year’s resolutions once. Making life changes requires inner strength and external support. How will you find this inner strength? How will you find support in the people and the structures of your life? Here’s a hint: look back at why you want to create time in the first place.
  • 14. Now that you have created the lens though which to make decisions about time, you are read to ask six questions about every task and obligation that comes you way. These are micro questions: they involve just the thing itself. These six questions should sound familiar to you, because they are the same six questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Of course, these will be considered on a much more immediate level, and much more often. And for each decision point, the answers might be different. But the lenses – the answers to your six macro questions – remain the same.
  • 15. On a micro level, we are concerned with making decisions about a specific task, activity or obligation. When you make these decisions, use your macro answers as a guide. The first question to ask is why. Why does this task need to be done? Should it be done at all? Does this task fit in with my plan for myself? Let’s say that just by asking this question you eliminate one weekly task, which formerly cost you one hour each time you did it. You have just created time. And not just a trifling amount of time. You just created 52 hours of time this year.
  • 16. When you asked why, you eliminated some tasks and obligations, creating time at every turn. But what about the many that remain – those that are valid and valuable? For each of these, you ask: who. Who should do this task? If it’s you, that’s fine. But is there someone else who should do this task? Or someone who should help you? Are there work-related tasks you have not delegated, even though you could, because it is easier to do it yourself? Delegation is an up-front investment of time that pays back (creates time) many times over. What can you delegate, and to whom? Are there tasks with which you can get help, lessening the burden on yourself?
  • 17. You have a list of things to do, each of which you have determined, by asking why and who, that need to be done, and that you yourself should do. The next question is: What should you be doing right now? Again, use your macro answers as a guide. Does this activity get you closer to your image of yourself? Does this contribute to your learning? To your forward progress? Is it in line with your values? What to do right now has a corollary: what not to do right now. Do you procrastinate on the important or difficult things by doing something less important?
  • 18. It seems like a small thing, but it’s a crucial component of creating time: Where should do this task? In your office? In your home office? In a Starbucks? A park? A parking lot? The answer, of course, depends on the task, but here are the criteria: will you have the resources you need at hand? Will you be uninterrupted? If you have four tasks to do, and you do each one to completion rather than switching back and forth, you will likely create incredible amounts of time, due to the lost energy and momentum that happens when you change your attention. So: where can you best do this?
  • 19. Also undervalued as a consideration, the next question for each task is: When should you do this? When might be at what time of day, because we all have times of day when we are better at certain kinds of activity (physical, cognitive, etc.). When might be a day of the week. If you schedule something important for Monday, but Monday is the day when all of the weekend crises have to be handled, how will you be able to focus your attention? When might be a month of the year, or year. When is the right time to do this? Get it right, and you create time. Especially if the when turns out to be never.
  • 20. The place to create the most time is how. How best to do this task? What tools make the task faster? Learn to use the features of your software, such as styles, and create time every time you create a document. Use a DVR (such as TiVo) to record programs, and watch an hour of television in 44 minutes – creating 16 minutes each hour. Have a half-hour commute each way? Work at home one day a week, and create one hour a week. See? And, an important related question: How well does it need to be done? No use being a perfectionist if the task does not require it. How much time can you create that way?
  • 21. Despite what anyone will tell you, you can create time. Begin now. Answer the six macro questions, so that you can have the right frame for making decisions about your life, which are, as you understand by now, decisions about time. Then, answer the six micro questions about any task, activity or obligation, and you will find that you create time on almost every thing that you do. Begin here: Why do you want to create time? What will you do with all the time you create? It’s your story. Tell it.
  • 22. To learn more about Creating Time… visit