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#36: Do you take the time?

Every day, each and every human has 24 hours at their disposal. Everyone decides for themselves what to use this time for.

In the repeated lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, I saw a great danger that we’d let ourselves go in the nationwide house arrest. Instead of highlighting the health benefits of good nutrition and exercise, the German government commissioned TV ads that glorified laziness, video games, and unhealthy eating as virtues.

Not wanting to waste my days, I saw the time as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really take care of myself for once. Twenty-four hours to do as I pleased and they were full! Because I had great conflicts of conscience with the political course, I shared my daily schedule with my audience.

Meanwhile, the “new normal” looks a lot like the old, as if nothing ever happened. With my experience, I now like to ask people, and hereby you, this question: In the 24 hours available to you every day, what do you take time for first? Would you rather spend an hour in a meeting or walking your dog? Scrolling on Instagram or talking to your partner about your wishes and dreams? Stuck in traffic or spending time in nature? What do you start with?

Rarely do I get an answer that is even remotely related to work. For most people, it’s pretty clear that they want to do something for themselves – especially things that cost very little or nothing at all.

I’m deliberately addressing the whole day, because the most important thing for me is sleep in sufficient quantity: nine hours including falling asleep and waking periods during the night. Next comes good nutrition: half an hour for preparation and consumption in the morning, a whole hour in the middle of the day and 90 minutes in the evening.

For another hour and a half, I want to be in motion each day. I could put a treadmill at my desk, but I want my daily 10,000 steps to be outdoors in the fresh air.

That means half the day is already planned out.

On top of that, there’s a generous hour for personal hygiene, and another for household chores. I prefer to do my creative work in the morning – in a self-determined, four-hour sprint block. I get the input for this in the afternoon by learning in a playful way, going with the flow of what interests me.

Now, do I live like this every day? No! But do I want to? Yeah! So the question is: when? For me, it’s certainly not the day I’m allowed to transition to the state pension. Working forty hours a week for forty years to enjoy a few years in “freedom”, hoping to die before I can no longer wipe my own ass – I consider that to be the greatest scam of all.

Maybe it’s difficult for you to answer my question because you’re caught up in your everyday life and obligations. Perhaps James Clear’s approach can help you:

Imagine all your responsibilities and obligations vanish overnight. What would you miss doing? What would you choose to add back to your life? If you’re searching for more time […], start with a clean slate and choose what to add to your days rather than starting with a full schedule and trying to figure out what to eliminate.

Say goodbye for a moment to the idea that you have to do anything in your life. Trading time for money, only to end up trading money back for time… The ultimate compensation is to get more control over your own destiny, says Jocko Willinck.

And James Clear again: Your calendar is a better measure of success than your bank account.

I can already hear your objections: Life doesn’t work that way.

But what if it does?


Yours, Ulrich

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