Time very well may be the most valuable nonreplenishable resource we don’t own.
But it can still be our friend and partner. We just have to practice temporal abundance. Building a narrative around time that supports and enhances our overall experience of fulfillment and calm. For starters, think about all the things you can potentially do with your time in any given moment.
To name a few of the more common options, you can borrow it, make it, seize it, steal it, save it, take it, find it, buy it or waste it. How many of those activities have you done this week? Don’t feel bad. Squandering minutes has become a national pastime for most, so you’re not alone.
And in fact, most people don’t even think about this problem because they don’t realize it could be solved in a new way.
Let's shift your thinking with a verb you may not have considered, which is compressing.
This is a completely different way to solve the problem of time. Let’s talk about it, because language is really important here to understand context. In the mechanical world, compression refers to a reduction in volume, causing an increase in pressure. In the geological world, compression refers to a system of forces that decrease the volume of rocks.
In the computing world, compression is the process of encoding digital information using fewer bits. And in the medical world, compression refers to a bandage that reduces the flow of blood. Notice any commonalities? Each of these different processes involve some form of reducing, condensing, shortening, combining or squeezing together.
And so, now the question becomes, how does that apply to your time? Well, think about your single highest leverage activity as a creative professional. Perhaps writing words or pushing pixels or composing music or generating code. This is the catchall that facilitates all the others. The lead domino that, if you accomplish it first, many other downstream tasks will require less or no time to complete. That’s compression.
If you can learn to prioritize your schedule according to the degree to which something can shrink the volume or intensity of your subsequent labor, you win.
You won’t suddenly have two extra hours in each day to do more work, but your act of compression will have allowed you to achieve more in a shorter period, which means you won’t need those two extra hours.
Do not underestimate how powerful this compression can be.
Execution is a process of elimination. Stop trying to steal what you need to compress, and you will make your creative work that much more prolific and sustainable over the long term. Just beware. Because once you change the way you see the problem of time, you can't unsee it. And you might get mad that you didn’t discover it earlier. How are you building a narrative around time that supports and enhances your overall experience of fulfillment and calm?
Achieve more in a shorter period without burning out
Assure that downstream tasks will require less or no time to complete
Give your creative work leverage to be more sustainable over the long term
Prioritize your schedule in a way that shrinks the volume or intensity of your creative labor