It takes more time than you think

How many times have you said something like, “I’ll be there in a minute,” or “I will only be gone a minute,” and the all time favorite, “Sure, I can do that, it’ll just take a minute.” Inevitably, no matter what our intentions, a minute turns into many minutes, even hours, and sometimes days. While it may feel like it only takes a minute to do something, in reality, it takes more time than you think.

If you’re like me, you’ve fallen into this trap many times. The problem is, we have the illusion that things get done quicker than they really do and we end up making promises we cannot keep. This leads to disappointments, frustrations, and ultimately, feelings of guilt. Sometimes, in order to compensate for the guilt, we actually get mad at the person asking for our time, somehow justifying that it was really their fault for asking in the first place. Or, is that just me? Our miscalculation of time leads to miscommunication, adding stress within ourselves and discord with others.

So why do we set these unrealistic expectations? One reason stems from the nature of human psychology. Hofstadter’s Law states: “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.” It is the heavily researched cognitive bias known as the “planning fallacy.” Basically, we are prone to underestimate the time it takes to do something and fail to plan appropriately.

Another source of the problem stems from how we manage our lives today. The average person has approximately 48 thoughts per minute, which equates to about 1 thought every 1.25 seconds. With that many thoughts racing in our heads, we face impulses regularly that quickly shift our attention from one thing to the next (ADD anyone?). We also live in a fast-paced, instant gratification time which adds stresses from our responsibilities and demands of others. There are a lot of internal and external things fighting for our attention. The quick and easy thing to do is to answer, “yes, I’ll do it in a minute” but we know deep down the minute never comes.

Are you ready to make some changes? Want to start looking at your time management more realistically? The next time you say the words “in a minute,” first, focus on the time and not the task, and then ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I being realistic about the time it will take?
  • Is it something I have time to do?
  • Is it something I can say “no” to, if necessary?

We have all been there. We have said things in passing or made promises we did not keep but living a life more consciously means taking ownership of what we say and what we do. A life of success begins by living within and maintaining realistic expectations. We do it for ourselves, we do it for others, and we model it for our children.

If you can relate, I would love to hear from you. What are ways you manage your time better? Please share a comment below. It will only take a minute 😉

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