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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

Asking Yourself This Question Regularly Will Save You So Much Time

happy woman

I recently listened to Anne Lamott’s audio writing workshop, and there was one story I particularly liked.

Anne mentions how she typically wears comfy clothes. But, one time she dated a man who loved short and tight dresses and skirts. So, she went shopping with her best friend and tried on a tight lavender dress. Probably unhappy with what she saw in the mirror, Anne asked her best friend: “Do you think it makes me [look] fat?” Her best friend gave her the most amazing answer: “Come on Anne, you don’t have that kind of time!”

This answer blew Anne’s mind, and she made it her personal mantra. (It blew my mind, too.)

The friend didn’t say, “Hell no, you don’t look fat,” or “Maybe you should try on something else.” She didn’t say, “Hurry up Anne, we don’t have time.”

She said, “You don’t have that kind of time.”

Apparently, there are many kinds of time. Focused time. Productive time. Time for rest, rejuvenation, recovery. Time with friends and family. Time for love, and for listening. Time for work, and time for yourself. Time for reading, music, fun. Time for exploring, and for sleeping. Action time. Creative time. Coffee time.

There are other types of time. Time for regret, complaining, anger. Distracted time. Time in fear. Time for worry. Those moments when you write 75 things on your to-do list and spend that time paralyzed, without an idea of where to begin. And, those moments when you’re working while constantly checking and refreshing email or your Facebook feed. Time you spend replaying old, painful conversations. Or, fighting with someone in your thoughts. Or, repeating the same story to yourself over and over again. Or, over-analyzing and freaking out. Or, fighting with something you can’t change.

There are many kinds of time. And we can choose the ones that serve us, that make us feel good, and make us and the world around us better.

Whenever you can, ask yourself:

Do I have this kind of time?

Be mindful of what you’re doing. Notice how you spend your precious time. Yes, we are all busy. But we also all have some poorly-used slots on our calendars regularly.

Gabby Bernstein has the best answer to people who say that they can’t realistically meditate: “And do you have time to feel like crap?”

Let’s be more aware of our time. Let’s replace some “bad” with some “good” kinds of time. Slowly and gradually, it will pass anyway. So make it count.

This article was originally published on It has been republished here with permission.