The way we spend our money says a lot about what we value in life.
The same is true about how we spend our time.
In today’s episode, find out why there’s a direct correlation between how much you love your life and how much you struggle with time management.
Imma ‘bout to drop the mic on y’all, and you’re gonna love it!
EPISODE 197 TRANSCRIPTION
Hey everybody. How are you doing? I'm doing great. I hope that you are also doing great and today we are talking about struggling with time management. Here's why.
But before we talk about that, here comes the shameless plug or shameless ask, I guess I should say for reviews. Go to trialguides.com and review the book. We're stuck at 120 for some reason, 123 technically because we have 3 reviews on the eBook. But go there and tell me what you thought, even if you didn't like it. I want your review. Also review the podcast. Thank you very much.
Well, we are in the time of year when most of our plans that we all made with so much gusto and optimism on January 1st have now gone to shit. Right, about mid-February where we start not doing the things that we said we were going to do. And so many of us, one of the things that we said we would do is be better with our time.
Time is where it is all at my friends. I mean, think about it. We all want more time on earth. Our time here is relatively short, so there's this existential need for more time, more living.
Trial lawyers want more time to prepare, probably, or take more clients or whatever that might be. The one thing that people strive for, money, is actually the need for more time because what does more money mean? It means that you can buy things like housekeepers that give you more time, or buy things like staff that give you more time, or if you have enough money, you can stop working altogether and get lots more time. So time is where it's at.
The question that I want you pondering is why? Why do we want more time? Because if most of us did an inventory over our past week and looked at how we currently spend our time... In fact, that word spend, it's very interesting because we also use that word when we talk about money. We spend money, we spend time. We can tell a lot about a person by their belongings and the things that they purchase.
Malcolm Gladwell talks about a study in one of his books where they gave clipboards to people and they went into dorm rooms and they checked out the things that the college student owned. The college student was not there, and they had to make educated guesses about what this college student was like, what they valued, what they wanted to do with their time. What they found in that study is that the people with the clipboards oftentimes, if not most of the time, guessed better than actual friends of the college student.
So how we spend our money tells us a lot about what we care about, but that's also true about how we spend our time, because how you spend your time reveals what you care about.
So do this little exercise with me. Let's look back over just the past week. Now, if you're like most of my clients, you probably got to the office by 8, if not earlier, and stayed until 6, at least 6, if not later. So we're already at 10-hour days, so you take 10-hour days times 5, we're now at 50 hours per week, but come on now, you probably worked evenings and weekends. So let's add another what, 10 hours to an hour at 60 hours and then if you had to commute... I'm just being really conservative, half an hour each way. So that's an hour a day. Okay, so 5.
So let's say we're at 65 hours. It's probably closer to 70 or 80 for most of you. Now, if we take away seven hours minimum for sleep, and I know y'all ain't getting that. Right? If you divide how many hours we have in a week, which is 168, by that number, 55%, 55 or the majority of your time, of your hours are spent on work.
Now, if we go back and look at what you were doing at work, we might find things like meetings or depositions or legal writing or emails, phone calls, et cetera. Now, I want you to take a minute and I want you to really think about what you did at work over the last week, and I'm going to ask you a couple of questions. The first question is, it's going to surprise you, how much joy did you experience?
The second question is how many of those things that you did were things you wanted to do versus things you felt you had to do? Now at this point, you're telling me, okay, Sari, you lost me. Joy? Want to? What does that have to do with work? It has everything to do with work. You spend the majority of your waking hours at work and are you telling me you're willingly suffering 65 plus hours a week because you're laboring under some bullshit idea that you have to, because that's just how it is.
Listen, you heard me say it before. I am changing, with your help, the way law is practiced. I am no longer accepting the mindset from y'all that being a trial lawyer means you have to suffer. It means you have to work these crazy hours. It means you can't take care of yourself.
That is a load of horseshit. It doesn't have to be that way. And this, by the way, is why you are struggling with time management. When you are doing a bunch of shit you don't want to do, time management is pointless. It's like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. No one is going to keep a schedule of shit they dread. You don't want to do that stuff, so you're not going to make sure that you do it because we're wired to not want to do things that we don't want to do. And yet, every January, you commit to better "time management" and every February, around this time, if not earlier, you beat yourself up because you haven't honored your commitments that you hoped you would do.
Stop. Stop beating yourself up. You're setting yourself up to fail, and by the way, there is nothing wrong with you. Now, research into habits. This is really interesting stuff. Came to a conclusion about people who were able to actually change their lives or make change happen in some way, like a habit that they wanted to start or stop. They did not find that it was because people lacked willpower. They did not find that it was because these people were super dedicated or super disciplined, the people who were able to do it. What they did find that got a habit to stick, got a change in someone's life to stick, is two things: joy and self-compassion. Surprising, right? Because we're doing the opposite. What we're trying to do is do stuff we hate, that's not joyful, and then when we don't do stuff we hate because human beings don't like doing stuff they hate, we beat ourselves up for it and think there's something wrong with us.
Now, what kind of sense does that make? This is why you struggle with time. You are not living a life you love. Let me say it again. You are not living a life you love. I mean, are you? Because most people aren't, especially trial lawyers. You have bought into the shit for so long that this has to be hard, that you have to work long hours, you have to do shit you hate. Maybe in the beginning, maybe when you're a baby lawyer, fine. But most of my clients have been in this for 20 plus years, and I know because I know you so well. Somebody just emailed me today. "You do know us so well. You say that on podcast and you do." So thank you for that. I love that. I'm so much like you. That's why, right? I'm talking to myself just as much as I'm talking to you.
But at this point in the podcast, you're probably thinking, well, this is why I need more time, because I get my joy outside of work. Right? But work takes such a big chunk like you just pointed out, that's why I need more time. You don't get more time. This is it. 168 hours a week, 52 weeks a year for 70 some years if you're lucky. Many of you say, well, I'll just enjoy my life when I retire if you get to retire. I mean, some people don't. Some people don't. You keep putting off your joy until later.
Joy can be and must be had now because now is the only thing that exists. There is no future. There is no past. There is no future. There is no past. What's that from? Well, it's from the same musical that tells you how many minutes are in a goddamn year, and now that I said that, it's going to be in my head all day, but it's so true.
There is no future. There is no past. Those are constructs in our mind. Our life happens now in this very moment. Nothing happens in the past and nothing happens in the future. Everything you've ever experienced or will experience happens in this moment, and this is where joy happens.
It's not some far off concept that you hope will happen someday. I mean, are you enjoying your present moment? No? Then stop fucking trying to manage it and shuffling those deck chairs. I mean this calls for a total life overhaul. It's like all about deciding whether or not you want to do things you hate at 11:00 AM or at 1:00 PM. No, that's not what we're after. That's not going to fix your life, trying to put it in different time things. "Yeah, I know what you're saying, but I have to do things."
No, you don't. You have two options for every single thing on your to-do list, and here's what they are. You either want to do them or you choose to do them. You don't have to do shit. You can say, "Well, if I decide to not go to work tomorrow, Sari, because you tell me I don't have to do anything. Well, then I get fired." Yep. And that'd be a choice. You're choosing to go to work so you don't get fired. Fucking fix your language because it's going to shape your experience. When you keep saying, "I have to do this, I have to do that..." You get stuck. This is why, by the way, joy is the way to fix things. I grabbed this quote now, I don't even remember where it's from, but it says, "Your sensory nervous system is always monitoring for actions you can take that will deliver a hit of dopamine, the brain's reward chemical. We are wired to seek out pleasure."
Let me say that again. We are wired to seek out pleasure. Now, all y'all and myself included has read that or heard that and then made that seem or believe that that's why we're lazy, because all we want to do is pleasure. All we want to do is watch Netflix. All we want to do is eat peach pie. Oh my God, peach pie sounds so good right now, but we're all in this... "See, that's how my brain is wired. All it wants is pleasure. That means that I will never do the things I'm supposed to do. So that's why my life sucks, because I'm forcing myself to do all these things so that I'm not lazy and letting my brain just take over." My people, what I'm trying to tell you is that your brain is wired for pleasure.
So the answer is not to go, "Okay, I could force myself to do all these un-pleasurable things." It's to work with your brain and find things in your life that actually bring you joy and pleasure, and that includes work. Now, there are things that we're going to talk about where you want to rewire your brain around fear and risk. That's going to be one of our next podcasts coming up, but why not work with the brain in this way? Because it's easier. You can choose. You can choose to just do things you want to do and the things that you feel that aren't super in the "want to" bucket, you can change your language and you can say, "I choose to do this because of that." Right?
Because for example, I am on a weight loss journey. I'm back on my weight loss journey. I'm like, I'm doing it this year, I'm telling you. Cancer took me off that for a little bit, but I'm back and I plan all of our meals out a week in advance, and Kevin does all the cooking, which is amazing. And sometimes I will look at the thing I planned on Sunday and it's now Thursday and I'll think, I don't want to eat that. Right? I don't want to eat that. Now I have a choice. I could say, well, I have to eat it. 'Cause if I want to lose weight, I have to eat that thing, or I have to because I planned it and we bought the food or whatever. That does not serve me and it doesn't serve you. What I say instead is, I may not want to do this, but I'm choosing to do this.
The reason I'm choosing to do it is because there's a bigger want behind it. I want to get healthy. I want to lose this weight. There's that bigger want. So then I can say in the moment for something that's not totally a want that I choose to do. Now again, you might be saying, "Yeah, but, but, but, but my job requires that. I..." Fine, get a different job. This is your life. I mean, at the end of your life, are you going to say, I'm so glad I stayed at that job I hate. Because I had a job and that was what was required. No, this is your life. If you want to do something or choose to do something, those are your options. You don't have to do anything. Now, it may take some radical, radical changes, but it's worth it. Why? Because you're worth it. But it all starts with, as Kevin and I said a few weeks ago in a podcast, what you want, which most of you avoid that question. It's the most terrifying question we ask in coaching. What's your dream or what do you want?
Because if you really got clear on what you wanted, I bet the majority of people listening right now to this podcast would have to change a fuck ton of things in their life, and that is scary. But you will never move into that want/choose place without a big ass juicy dream pulling you towards it. If I am not consistently imagining myself at my lower weight with more energy and more able to play with my kid, then yeah, eating what I planned tonight, just fuck it. I'll be like, forget it. But I have this big juicy dream of what I'm going to look like and feel like on January 1st on 2024, so that I get into the want and choose place. I can use that dopamine hit from my brain, because now it is pleasurable to eat what I planned because it's part of this big dream.
But if you don't have that big dream, then those things that you're planning, those choose to's, do start to feel like have to's, because they're not a part of what you actually want to do with your life. Now, once you have that dream, if you have that dream, you all do have a dream. Give yourself permission to think about it. Then I want you to decide how you're going to spend your time then and only then, because I bet you, you are not going to struggle so much with time management when you are looking forward to a life that you love.
Now, that second ingredient, self-compassion, you have to have that too. So if you're listening to this podcast and you're thinking, "Dammit, I do need to make some changes," be kind to yourself. I went away for the weekend, this last weekend, so what, we're two weeks? When I'm recording this, we're a couple weeks into the new year, and I had been perfect, right? That's what we expect of ourselves. Perfect. And then we went to the beach house and my daughter wanted brownies and my husband wanted to get this certain meal, and so I "went off plan", and I got back and I'm like, "Oh my God, I've gained weight. That was so bad. I wasn't perfect. Just forget it." And what I decided to do is say, "Nope, I learned some stuff. I'll act differently next time we go to the beach, but I'm right back to it." And I was right back to it the next day. I actually didn't gain any weight. I didn't lose any, but I didn't gain any weight, and I'm still on track. That self-compassion piece is huge.
Go towards things that give you joy, but have self-compassion as you create the life that you want.
It took me years, my friends, to get here, to have the life of my dreams, which I believe I do totally have. It didn't happen overnight. Made a lot of mistakes along the way, did a lot of things I didn't want to do, but I finally got here, and it's going to take a lot of self-compassion. So stop trying to manage your time if all of your time is spent doing things you hate. First, start creating or even thinking about what kind of life would be a joyful, enjoyable life, and then you can manage your time. Talk next week.
If you liked this episode topic, check out these others:
- Episode #196 – Do You Have Trial Trauma?
- Episode #195 – Here’s Why You DON’T Want to Work With Me One-on-One
- Episode #194 – 10 Reasons All Trial Lawyers Need a Coach
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