How Our View of Time Can Prevent Us from Getting Things Done In Our Lives

Photo on Visual hunt

Our view of time creates a canvas that we use to paint the rest of our lives. We develop our view of time from various things, but one of the main forces is our 9–5 job. Think about your work, and a mental picture will appear. A feeling will overcome you. Even when we aren’t thinking about work it is with us. It impresses upon us certain views and teaches us certain lessons that we apply to our personal lives. When we do this we immediately limit our ability to succeed at something other than-work.

Work has taught us that we need large slots of time to succeed. Our employers have convinced us that 40 hours a week is required to achieve success, but experts disagree. Biophysicist and theoretical ecologist, Erik Rauch, believes that an average worker today only needs to work 11 hours a week to get as much done as their counter parts did in 1950. Large slots of time may not be as effective as our employer’s think they are. Take a quick look at your day and you can figure that out for yourself. How much time are we spending actually working versus talking to co-workers, taking breaks, eating lunch, going to useless meetings, in transit, going to the bathroom, checking our phone, surfing the web, and the myriad of things we do that aren’t actually work.

Work has taught us how to be inefficient. When we are at work I think we know this, but I am not sure we always catch how this affects us at home. On an average day office workers generate 2 pounds worth of paper and about 10,000 sheets of paper a year. There are the many processes we work within that aren’t clearly defined, measured, or understood. Waste, or any step or action built into a process that is not required and doesn’t add value to the customer, is a big part of what we create at work. We are good at managing it and getting things done despite it. We generally work a lot harder then we need to and work a lot less then we care to admit to achieve work goals.

Eliminating waste from processes is what I do at work. It always shocks me, and it shouldn’t, how people are expected to perform a process that isn’t outlined, where there are no clear roles and responsibilities, and where a significant amount of waste exists. According to a Fast Company article, managers spend about 40% of their time writing reports and 30–60% of it in meetings versus getting actual work done. A plethora of carefully crafted processes doesn’t make us more efficient or help increase our productivity per se, but it does help to understand how much actual work we are doing that produces the desired results.

Work teaches us to wait. We have to wait for meetings, approval, co-workers, resources, funding, and decisions to be made for us. We are rarely given the opportunity to take intrapreneurial actions to achieve results. We have to wait for the results of office politics, for the word to get out, an email to be sent, the paper to be published, the boss to report, and the customer to get back to us. Waiting is a part of what we do and we are used to it.

Work teaches us to avoid. For reasons unknown we are allowed to procrastinate, resist, push back, ignore, play games, show up late, leave early, treat poorly, and not take seriously. If we think this won’t feed into the rest of our lives we are wrong. It’s just work it doesn’t count. Our attitude towards work does count. It is near impossible to separate ourselves into neat sections and make ourselves suddenly perform when it counts.

“Trying out 6 hour works days, increased overall health and productivity”

Shayla Love

We approach life with our 9–5 view and tell ourselves we don’t have the time to accomplish things, but what we are really saying is we don’t have 40 hours a week to spend on things. We probably don’t have that time, but we don’t need it. What we need is to show up and work on things over and over again. It’s that over and over again thing that we do at work that produces results. It’s getting up, showing up, and working day after day on specific tasks that lead to desired results. We don’t need 40 hours. We need to do focused work over and over again until we achieve our goals. We can find time for that.

Waste is built into our processes at work and something in us doesn’t want to repeat that behavior when it comes to working on personal goals. We are used to having a genuine dread of work and will go to great lengths to avoid it. We are used to waiting and wasting time until we get answers. All of this makes us think poorly of working at home, in our personal lives. It makes us avoid things that we love. Things that we are truly motivated to accomplish. It keeps us from completing the type of work that we were truly created for.

The cool thing about doing work in our personal lives is that how and when we perform that work is completely up to us. We have total control over how efficient we use our time. We don’t have to wait for our boss or co-worker to give us the go ahead. If it’s something you truly want to accomplish you should have the motivation to get the work done. If, however, you find yourself making excuses, procrastinating, and avoiding things you say you want to do at home and in your life, then you simply need to decide if you really want to do it. Perhaps it’s time to admit that you don’t want to do those things.

If what you want to do is really what you want to do then set some goals for it. Look at what can be done a little every day to accomplish something. Keep showing up and keep putting in time, resources, and your talents. Evaluate your view of work and decide if you have the right one for accomplishing life goals. We don’t need 40 hours a week to accomplish what is important to us. We need to consistently put in the time we can and keep doing that over and over and one day we will wake up and realize we have accomplished our goals. Don’t let the skewed view of work we pick up from the 9–5 bleed into your life. You need some time and consistency and I am betting you can fit that into your life and accomplish some great things.

Marcy Pedersen

Originally published at on October 26, 2019.

Writer, analyst, life-long learner, and obsessed about improving life and work processes. Connect at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store