“It’s sooooo hard to find the time to do everything!!! I could start my business if I juuuuuuuuuust HAD MORE TIME! I’m too busy right now.”
It certainly sounds like the old me after I got married, became a mother for the first time, and started my first tenure-track position at a law school.
Between home and work, it seemed that every literal moment of my day was occupied by mandatory work stuff and/or someone else’s needs and desires.
I felt the tugs of entrepreneurship and creating a national reputation bubbling up in my spirit, but exhaustion and life just didn’t seem to allow for these to be anything but pipe dreams.
For a while I would have spurts of activity, but never anything consistent. Then, one day I was watching an old episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show online and heard the the story of Dr. Tererai Trent, who was literally named the Oprah Winfrey Show’s favorite guest of all time.
Dr. Trent was born in Zimbabwe in a rural village, where she was not allowed to go to school. She was married by age 11 to a much older, abusive man, and by the time she was 18, she had four children and was being beaten every day by her husband. After a series of divine interventions, Dr. Trent wrote down her dream, which was to have three degrees (bachelor’s master’s and Ph.D), and set out on an uncharted path to the U.S. with the help of a global nonprofit.
Today, Dr. Trent has obtained those three degrees in the U.S., written multiple books, and travels the world as a renowned activist, speaker and educator.
You can watch a short (~2 minute long) segment about Dr. Trent below.
During the episode I was watching, Ms. Winfrey made a comment about people realizing that we alone have the power to create the life we want, and something clicked for me in that moment.
Dr. Trent, who had experienced a breathtaking amount of pain, abuse, and hopelessness, talked about not allowing anyone or anything to deter her from her goals, and that hit me like a ton of bricks. Excuses like poverty, physical pain, an abusive marriage, having ultimately five children, and geographical location did not stop her.
I did not have any of these excuses, but I certainly had some very real things happening in my life that I used as excuses. I had spent so much time complaining about my busy-ness that I was basically blinded from trying to find any solutions.
I was allowing my immediate circumstance to keep me from working toward the things I wanted and using “no time” as an excuse, when in reality I was blowing multiple hours scrolling through news and social media sites.
While I had been telling myself, “I can’t start a business because I don’t have enough time—I’m too busy,” I really never asked myself why I didn’t have enough time other than broad generalities. I mean, L-I-F-E was why, right?
This was kind of right, but mostly wrong. I knew I’d blink in the morning and the next thing I knew, it was tomorrow. Time was whizzing by. But, like, where was it going? And why did I not have a better understanding of its location? I did not put specific thought into these questions at first.
Once I did ask and answer these questions, I realized I mostly had myself to blame. Nearly every “I can’t do that” was really, “I don’t want to prioritize that right now.” Not prioritizing things wasn’t wrong, per se, I just wasn’t being honest with myself about this.
This post is dedicated to helping you answer this question for yourself. Why don’t you have enough time? Where can you find more of it???
I can’t answer these questions for you, but this post will help you figure out where your time is going.
My basic suggestion is that you spend three days monitoring everything you do and writing it down, from the moment to wake up until the moment you go to bed.
Do this down to the minute by creating a chart like the one below. You can type, handwrite, or use an app. The point is just to really do it.
Example of time measurement chart:
DO NOT try to be on your best behavior because you know you’re watching! Be honest with yourself so that we can find the solutions that work best for you.
On the fourth day, do the math on how much time you’re spending on things each day. When I did this exercise, I was shocked, TBH, by how much time I was blowing on unproductive screen time.
Lord, I wasted so much time on MediaTakeOut.com and Facebook back then.
Here are some research-backed numbers that may surprise you as you walk through this yourself:
- People average 153 minutes on social media per day
- The average commute (in the U.S.) is 26.9 minutes one-way each day.
- Smokers take roughly 80 minutes worth of smoke breaks each day.
- The average American worker spends 352 minutes checking and replying to emails (209 minutes of work email and 143 on personal email). (wow!)
If you’re anywhere near average, you’re spending roughly 8 hours per day on social media and email alone. These were definitely my two biggest time drains.
It is easy to fall back into this trap, so I have to work each day to stay focused on my goals and vision and not get sucked into aimless scrolling. It still happens, but with much less frequency.
This is just one of many steps in finding time to start your business, but it is a crucial one.
If your common refrain is that you don’t have the time, I challenge you to spend the next three days assessing why you don’t have any.
Once you do this exercise, I’d love to hear from you in the comments:
- What are you “too busy” doing right now to start your business?
- What are the biggest drains on your time?
- Where are you spending the most time that could be used toward your business?
Please give as much information as you can in response to these questions. I’d be happy to share more tools and resources that help you get what you want. And, I know the other folks reading this can learn from your experiences! We are all in this together.
I always say that I’m on a mission to build a nation of good people with dynamic personal brands and successful businesses. We can learn from each other on this journey, particularly when we have accountability partners. This is why I am building a whole nation of them.
You can connect to the the private community I’ve created to provide support and encouragement along the journey–online and via app. Check us out at programs.shontavia.com or via the Mighty Networks App.
Download the Mighty Network app by clicking here. Once it downloads, click “Find a Mighty Network” and search for Shontavia Johnson. You’ll find content there that I may not share elsewhere.
Thank you so much for joining me on this roller coaster of an experience. I am eternally grateful that I get to do this work with wonderful people each day.
Let’s make it happen,