Are you a time pessimist?

One of the main reasons many of us feel overwhelmed is because we’re not getting around to doing all we want to do, or we think we should be able to do more than we currently do.

I regularly meet women who think they should be able to work full-time, go to the gym 5 days a week, cook from scratch every day, spend hours reading with their kids every day and spend an hour a day on their own hobbies.

It’s not going to happen unless they don’t need much sleep.

A time optimist is someone who thinks they can do more in a specific period of time than an average person can realistically do.

I’ll confess – I’m often a time optimist in my personal life. Those weekend to-do lists with 15 tasks when I realistically am only going to be home a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday? Time optimism.

It’s really strange since I’m usually a time realist in my work life:

– I know that things happen unexpectedly in the traffic so I need to leave extra time to get anywhere.
– I know that if I think I can see 5 people and sort out 5 issues in an hour, I’ll probably only be able to realistically do 3 or 4 because of other interruptions, people in meetings or on lunch, etc.
– I know that when arranging meetings, I have to be flexible so the most important agenda items are discussed in case we run out of time.

A time realist is realistic about how long things take and buffers in time when necessary.

Back to my time optimism though.

When I put 6 things on a list and therefore only manage two of them because I know full well I have a really busy day…I’m being a time optimist.

I think things will go quicker than they inevitably do, or that I’m Superwoman and can do those things quickly.

And yet I often tease my husband because he’s a true time optimist.

He always thinks he can get much more done on the weekends and is then disappointed when we only get to do one or two things.

The time pessimist thinks there’s never enough time to do anything – read, organise, do fun things – so doesn’t even try.

It’s no secret that there are many time pessimists all around. This is one of the reasons I wrote the book (31 Days of Enough Time) which you can get by following the links in my sidebar.

How about a few quick examples?

You have 15 minutes before a meeting.

Time optimist – “I can probably get 10 emails done if I do them really quickly”

Time realist – “I can answer 2 long emails or about 5 quick ones”

Time pessimist – “15 minutes? No point me starting an email. I’ll just get started and have to stop”

You’re invited to join a once-a-month book club.

Time optimist – “Great! I can probably read 4 books a month even though I only read 3 total last year, during my holidays”

Time realist – “If I set aside 20 minutes a day, I can easily get through a book every month. Sign me up”

Time pessimist – “No, thank you. I don’t have any time to read because I work and I have two kids. Yes, I’m on Facebook but that’s my relaxation time”

So, are you a time optimist, a time realist, or a time pessimist?

How can you become more of a time realist?

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Comments

  1. MamaCat says:

    I am definitely think I can do more than I actually end up doing. But I have become a little easier on myself. After I write out the list, I make sure I prioritise it and highlight items that cannot be compromised. The rest happens when I feel like it. I do not want to be a prisoner of my list, because I used to feel like that and now I can let it go.

    • Marcia Francois says:

      I love that you’ve gotten easier on yourself. I see the progress over the years 🙂 I love how you said “I don’t want to be a prisoner of my list” – such a great quote!

  2. I am a bit of both depending on the activity. I am that person who thinks 15 mins is not enough, so why start something. Two factors that contribute to this is that 1) I can’t handle a half complete task and 2) I am quite slow with certain tasks. eg. cleaning out my wardrobe will take me an entire weekend. But I am also that person who think they can get a million things done on the weekend. To-do-lists help a lot to see that I may have bitten off too much for a day.

    • Marcia Francois says:

      I wonder if that’s your perfectionism. You’re so right – when you write out the to-do list, you can see how you’re being a complete optimist 😉

  3. I’m somewhere between a time realist and a time optimist. Not finishing a task doesn’t stop me from starting. I’ll just continue another day or another time. And I’ve always believed that we can do anything we set our mind to if we consider it a priority(or course within reason). What I need to improve on is adding bigger times for travel. If it says it would take me 30 mins to get somewhere I leave at exactly 30 mins which becomes a problem when you get stuck in traffic

    • Marcia Francois says:

      Yip – I can see that in you! Add on 15 minutes to that iPhone lady’s time – it will help in 95% of cases. This is what I do 🙂

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