You don’t manage time; all you can do is manage your decisions about how you spend your time and the headspace you experience this time in.
A time warrior stays focused, calm and present during challenges, chaos and overwhelm. They do not let distractions and sabotaging habits like multitasking, procrastination or overwhelm derail them from their task.
You don’t have to be a samurai to achieve this level of focus and presence, but you do need to be able to operate from a place of calm confidence, especially in stressful situations.
When you can operate from a time warrior mentality, a fantastic thing happens – you begin to own your days and not feel like they own you. Words like joy, contentment and gratitude become a natural feature of the day, not something you only experience on holiday.
The main difference between a time warrior and a time worrier is headspace; it’s not about how much gets done but how it gets done.
Here are some of my trusted tools to help you get there too:
Separate the fact from the story.
Time is just time, but it’s often the story you place around your time that catapults you into time worrier mode.
Let’s say you wake up at 2 am; you can look at the clock and think, ‘OK, it’s 2 am; how curious!’ And then close your eyes, focus on your breath and go back to bed.
But what tends to happen is you look at the clock and think, ‘Oh my goodness! 2 am! I am getting up in four hours, will be exhausted, and how will I manage this huge presentation?’ You have put yourself in a state of pure overwhelm and anxiety that your best case is to fall asleep around 3 am.
Now you wake up, the story continues about how tired you are, and you tell everyone how awful you feel. How could you possibly have a good day with such a story?
Interrupted sleep is never pleasant, but you can easily accept that it was a broken sleep; you can’t change it and carry on with your day as best you can.
Where else do you create a story around the facts? You could have to submit a strategy or document to the team, and your deadline is in three days. That’s the fact.
The time worrier will create a story about how the future of their career lies in this document, and everyone is going to judge them, and they have to be perfect.
The time warrior will plan their diary and block out when they will work on it and begin. They focus on the end goal and don’t allow fear or self-doubt to take over; they invite it to sit down, acknowledge it and then let it go. They create a more empowering story where they execute and deliver on time with excellence.
You can never create more hours, but you can create a better story to experience better hours.
Aim for progress over perfection.
I used to think time warriors are created through empowering morning routines. I consider myself a certified time warrior, but I also had to learn the hard way about letting go of wanting things a specific way to feel content.
For example, my ideal morning includes yoga, meditation, journaling and exercise. Some days, I have to choose one, which will always be training, because this is my only gap. I used to feel like something was missing because I couldn’t get to all my rituals and had some time worrier slipping in. I feared not doing the practice, which defeats the whole purpose of mindfulness.
I’ve learnt that you can create spaces in your day to reflect, focus and create stillness. It’s not about having to dedicate twenty minutes in one sitting to meditate, but what if I focus on my breath on the commute to school?
What if I can do a few poses between meetings and bring intention and attention to what I’m doing? A time worrier waits for ideal circumstances and removes the essential parts of their day, like self-care rituals.
Even if you don’t meditate or journal, is there something you want to start or continue but make time a reason why you can’t? If you can bring intention and attention to anything, even for five minutes, you will make progress.
Make your rituals fit into your day, not fit your day around your rituals.
What’s the energy you bring to the task?
Time is just time, but your headspace determines how you experience it. If you’re in time worrier mode, you experience anxiety, fear, self-imposed deadlines, and pressure to be perfect constantly.
In lockdown in 2020, I began to trigger migraines every single day. At first, I thought it was food allergy related, but after ruling out enough possibilities, I realised they were utterly self-inflicted. Not intentionally, but my headspace was in full time worrier mode.
I would arrive at my desk with a time scarcity mindset, terrified about how I would complete all my action items in such a short space of time because now I was also having to help the kids with homeschooling online. The anxiety around the time was triggering my migraines.
I had to change my attitude and acknowledge my anxiety to transition into a time warrior. I couldn’t change the number of hours available, but I could control the energy I brought to the task. Rather than worry about finishing it, I focused on enjoying the work and bringing a sense of excitement rather than dread and fear.
I focused on creating micro wins and celebrated my progress in the allotted time rather than whether I finished. Once I acknowledged my win, it was the starting point for the next available block of time.
You can also shift your headspace by dropping all-or-nothing thinking. Have you ever had twenty minutes spare but figured you might as well not begin because it’s pointless? This thinking will keep you in time worrier mode; you will be astounded at how much progress you can create with a focused twenty-minute gap. It’s the not starting that plays in your mind all day and drains you mentally.
Above all, you will become a time warrior if you approach your task with excitement and enthusiasm. When your mindset is driven by fear, you will never make your best decisions because you cannot see the possibilities and allow your creativity to flow.
Stay focused on the goal but be flexible on the timing.
You may be in time worrier mode when you hear yourself saying, ‘I should be further by now, or I should be earning this salary by now’.
Resisting reality only frustrates you and makes you feel like you are doing something wrong. The solution is simple but not easy to shift into a time warrior – move into trust and acceptance.
I am not saying move into apathy, but rather accept where you are now. Did you create this story years ago in a different life stage? Have external factors come up, like Covid, that rearranged your plans? As long as you are taking action and moving forward, you must be OK with how things are now.
Like nature, you cannot rush it. It works on its own timing and is always perfectly in sync. Can you take a step back and see that wherever you find yourself is exactly where you are meant to be? Maybe you wish you were further along, but this time has allowed you to focus more on yourself or family commitments.
When you resist reality, you will only frustrate yourself and those around you. When you find the gift in your situation, you can’t change it, but you can appreciate it.
To transform into a time warrior, you need to generate clarity. This means asking yourself a key question when you find yourself moving into overwhelm and don’t know where to begin because everything feels urgent.
When I find myself in this place, I ask, ‘What’s the most important thing I need to do right now?’ It almost sounds too simple, but once I can identify the task, it shuts out every possibility of what I could do.
Focus brings calm, presence and creativity because it frees my mind to let go of all other distractions.
If you have three critical things to do, start by defining each deadline. Is it your priority or someone else’s busy work you agreed to do because you felt bad to say no? If you’re honest with yourself, the other stuff can wait. In the words of Stephen Covey:
“When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.”
When you know what has to be done right now, you can move into time warrior mode and execute with excellence without the story.
The late author Wayne Dyer speaks about ‘The Unhurried Life’. I fell in love with this concept because it sums up so perfectly what we are all striving for and what it means to be a time warrior.
It’s not about getting more done or ticking more boxes but experiencing flow in your day without any charge. Getting through what you need to but feeling content, energised and present.
My mom-in-law takes my kids to school one morning a week; it’s a gift beyond. I was excited because I could start my work day earlier and get more done. One morning, things took way longer than expected, and I only started work at my regular time.
I started getting all flustered that I had ‘wasted’ this precious time. Then I had Wayne’s voice reminding me about the unhurried life. I nearly missed the point; this help was about something other than starting earlier but allowing me to savour my morning and what I put into it.
So what if I started at my usual time? The space around my morning was the benefit, not gaining an extra thirty minutes to write.
When you find yourself in time worrier mode, take a breath and ask yourself what it will take to live the unhurried life?
Here’s to being a time warrior.
How can I support you and your team to move into the time warrior mindset? Email me at email@example.com to set up a complimentary clarity session so you can create the unhurried life.