“Who has time? Who has time? But then if we do not ever take time, how can we ever have time?” — Merovingian, The Matrix Reloaded
Which means, there’s never enough.
Or so you tell yourself, because that’s an easy way to admit defeat.
The Merovingian doesn’t admit defeat. He decides to do something about it. He decides that if he can’t make time appear out of thin air, then he’s going to have it attain it some other way — by taking it.
You can take time in many ways. And it may seem like it’s against the rules. But it’s not. It’s just disobeying the conventional ways of living, that culture dysfunctionally dictates as the “right” way to live.
You have more choice than that which common culture lays out for you. The Merovingian sure knows it. So take more time, by following these ten steps that the Merovingian would well approve of:
1. Treasure your time
You won’t have much a need to be motivated to take time if you don’t treasure it. So your desire for time must be strong.
Think about what many people desire, power. The symbol of power is money.
But what does money really buy? Time, of course. Time to relax, time to do what you want to do instead of what you have to — instead of toiling all your hours away at work or living-making.
From one angle, time is more important than money, because money has to be converted into time. Time is the raw thing, the real deal. Which is why you need to treasure it.
2. Track your time
You can’t improve your time-taking efforts if you don’t first measure it. And you won’t know when, where, why, and how your time is wasted if you don’t track it.
So start logging your days. Keep a three-day diary of everything that you do. And be honest. Don’t hide the details or skip parts of the day that you think shouldn’t count. Because they do count, every minute counts. When your diary’s completed, take a look over your time-spending habits — without judgment. Just notice what you do.
The awareness will start to allure you… to more healthy time-spending habits. Just knowing that you spend a fourth of your day listening to other people’s problems, or a third of your day worrying about the future, will subconsciously if not consciously motivate you to find better investments for your time.
3. Rush the non-essentials
There are always going to be things that you just have to get done, like taking out the trash or emptying the dishwasher. Those are the non-essentials, the boring tasks, the meaningless time-wasters, right?
Well, one way to make them less painful is to do them with a purpose — with a plan, a time limit, even a rush. Get it done and get the chore done sooner than later. Because once it’s done, it’s done, and your time is freed up for more essential things.
4. Multitask while spending time on the non-essentials
Another way to make the non-essentials less painful is by doubling that time with some essential activity. Your brain is designed to take on more than one task at a time — as long as the tasks don’t require too much focus and attention.
If you can talk to a passenger while driving, then you can listen to an educational program while emptying out the dishwasher. And if you can do that, then you can do some brainstorming or creative thinking while taking out the trash.
When you multitask the right way, you double your time. Think about if your bank account was doubled. Well double your time is worth even more than that.
5. Make your time mindful
A great way to multitask your time is by practicing mindfulness when doing the non-essentials. When you’re taking a shower, notice how you are feeling, take note of your level of health, take a moment to tune into your body. When you’re cooking dinner, savor the sounds, sights, and smells — use that that time to unwind and give thanks.
Any investment in mindfulness is an investment in informal meditation and greater self-awarenss — which makes it a great investment in your health. And better health buys a longer life, which means more time.
6. Say no to time-wasters
If the Devil were to exist, he wouldn’t need a legion of demons to do his dirty work; he already has a legion of time-wasters, like gambling, ridiculously long lines, or commercials. The worst ones are those that double as addictions, which pry into people’s weaknesses and compulsions.
There are millions of ways to waste your time. Trying to fix other people’s problems when they don’t ask is a huge one. Trying to control your life is another one.
To minimize your time wasted, you have to say “no,” loud and clear. Which means you sometimes have to be impolite, unsocial, maybe even rude — just so you don’t end up tagging along on some time-wasting descent.
7. Say yes to strong personal boundaries
Let every “no” to time-wasting be a resounding “yes” to time-saving.
You can’t control every second of your time, but you sure have a say in how you spend most of it. Key word being “you.” It’s your time being spent, not anyone else’s. Which means that you’ve got to protect it, with strong personal boundaries that serve your best interests.
No one’s going to protect your treasure for you. And no one but you is going to understand how valuable it is. So do everything you can to protect your treasure.
8. Realize your time is borrowed
Unless physical immortality is somehow made possible in your lifetime, your life span is finite. The sooner you accept that, the wiser you can be with your time, and the more motivated you will be to take it.
All of your time is borrowed. It doesn’t really belong to you. You’re here on Earth for a time, and then you’re gone. So while your here, make the absolute best of it. Make it worth it. Make it yours.
9. Be selfish with your time
Your time may be borrowed, but you can still be selfish with. Be very, very selfish with it. If you don’t, then someone else will. Someone else who’s just dying to take more time — at your expense.
That someone could be a person, a group, or an organization. But no matter how big or strong they are, don’t let them. Be selfish.
And what if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life being selfish? Well, being selfish with your time is the only way can ensure you use it for selflessness, charity, or benevolence.
10. Make your time last longer
There’s a secret to making time last longer than it should, and that’s by being really mindful, by being in “flow.”
Think about the last time time “flew” for you. It went by really fast because you lost your sense of it. That’s a good thing. That means you used your time the best way you could, by doing what you loved, by being in the moment.
Make your time last longer by finding the things that you love, and doing whatever you can to make those activities a normal part of your life.
Take your time
So remember the Merovingian’s words the next time you feel yourself crunched for time, or without enough of it.
No one’s going to hand you time on a silver platter. And no one’s going to make it appear out of thin air.
You’re going to have it to take it. And that’s going to take practice. So be patient, but stay focused. Because you have a lot of work ahead of you — but in the end, doing that work now rather than later, is going to save you a lot of time.