Ohhh, that poor space alien.
If you follow the Dr. Glenn Doyle page on Facebook, you remember the space alien, I’m sure.
Last week, I made a post that asked, “If an alien landed on earth right now, and observed how you’ve spent your time every day for the last week, what would they conclude about what you value, what’s important to you?”
The post went on to say, “your priorities are laid bare by how you direct your time and attention. If you look at your time management and don’t think it reflects the person you’re trying to become or the life you’re trying to build, you’re the only one who can change that.”
A lot of people liked the post. They seemed to get the connection I was trying to make: that our overall goals and priorities HAVE to be linked to our time management.
Put another way, we don’t get to, for example, say we value reading, then never make the time to read.
We don’t get to say we value new ideas, then only expose ourselves to ideas we already agree with.
We don’t get to say we value fitness, and then consume foods that are harmful to our health and never make the time to exercise.
We don’t get to say we value relationships, then never make time for them.
On, and on…if we say we value something, the fact we value it MUST be evident in how we manage our time and how we direct our attention. It simply doesn’t wash if how we manage our time, day by day, tells a different story about what we value than what we say we value.
The reason I used the image of a space alien landing on our planet and looking at our time management to draw conclusions about what we value was because a space alien would have no preconceived notions about whomever they were observing.
The space alien would have no biases or prejudices; they’d have no knowledge of what any person has SAID they value. The space alien, straight off the spaceship from the far reaches of the galaxy, would have nothing to go on except for our time management to figure out what we value…and the question is, given just that information, what would this space alien conclude?
Little did I suspect that my poor space alien, who was just curious about the behavior of us complicated, contradictory humans, would get so much flak from my commenters.
I should point out here that nowhere in the post did I say, or even imply, that the space alien in question would be judging anybody for their time management.
The space alien doesn’t really have strong opinions on how anyone spends their time. If someone wants to binge watch Netflix; or rabidly consume political content online with which they already agree; or spend hours scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling Facebook…the space alien says, more power to ya.
Which made it curious that a sizable subset of commenters seemed to think the space alien was somehow sitting in judgment of their time management.
The post was not about anybody being judged. The post didn’t even imply judgment. The post was about the connection between our values and priorities on the one hand, and our time management on the other. It’s a point that trips up a lot of people, which is why I wrote the post.
If there is a significant disconnect between what we say we value, and how we allot and spend our time, our lives are going to suffer. Full stop.
We’re going to find ourselves not moving toward our goals, not living congruously with what we say we value— and that’s the kind of thing that absolutely decimates self-esteem.
Make no mistake: no one will judge you for how you spend your time. (Well, I suppose someone may, but I sure won’t. And neither will the space alien who I invented for the purposes of the post.)
How you spend your time is YOUR business.
But MY business is helping people live lives that feel better, are more productive, and more consistent with the lives they want to live. My job is to help people feel more of what they want to feel, and less of what they don’t want to feel— and to be able to do that for themselves, consistently.
And you simply can’t do that if you’re fighting for your right to spend time doing things that don’t line up with what you say you value.
If something is a priority, you have to treat it like a priority— and that means managing your time and attention like it’s a priority.
So here we have this poor space alien, who just wants to know what it is we humans value, and figures how we manage our time might be a pretty good indicator of what we value…that space alien is absolutely right.
By looking at how we manage our time and energy, that space alien is going to get a pretty accurate idea of what we value.
The space alien’s not judging or shaming anybody…but he sure finds it interesting that some people assume he is.
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