The Time Substitute

In line with the series of subtle little tricks to try out new things, here’s a really simple one.

Often, when someone like me suggests that you try out that hobby, that trip, that whatever-it-is that you’re interested in but you’re not doing, the default answer is I would – but I just don’t have time.

That’s fair. I’m a big proponent of the idea that you can’t “make” time, you can’t even “find” time, you have to simply “prioritize” time – and that means giving up something else.

That’s hard. We have busy lives, and we generally fill our time with a mix of things we like to do and things we have to do. Giving up any of those is a pretty tall order.

Send Some of Your Time On Vacation

The only reason that excuse – I don’t have time – works is because you are imagining giving up something else forever. 

What if, instead, you gave it up for a week? Kind of like when a teacher goes of vacation, you know they’re coming back, but meanwhile there’s a substitute there. If the substitute is not fun, you grit your teeth but you can bear it because the cool teacher is coming back. 

On the other hand, if the substitute is fun, you get to see if maybe there’s some other position for them there on the staff…ok, the metaphor is stretching a bit. Here’s the basic process:

  1. Find something you habitually do – a hobby, a show, a regular exercise, anything that takes somewhere between five minutes and an hour of your time.
  2. Pick out something you wish you had time to do.
  3. For one week – and only one week – do that instead of the the usual thing.

It may mean your morning yoga is replaced with learning to stab-bind books. It may mean that instead of watching The Late Show you are writing three more sentences in your novel. It may mean you read Proust instead of X-men on your bus ride (or vice versa).

Doesn’t matter what you choose. Doesn’t have to be useful, or productive, or anything except something you wish you had the time to do

Because for one week, you can. And wouldn’t it be interesting to see what that’s like?

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