My Struggle That Led To A Realization About Time

I think I’m finally starting to internalize this idea that I’ve heard many times…

Lately I’ve started to feel some very real traction, direction, and motivation working in coffee shops. I’ve thought a lot about value and what I have to offer to others. I’m excited for what I can work through and produce. I’m excited to get the ball rolling, to do the doing. Typically this would feel great, but there’s been this shadow looming behind me for the last 2 weeks. This traction, direction, and motivation has meant that something else has fallen in priority, and that thing has constantly been on my mind.

Since getting back to Denver, one of the big things I’ve set out to do is update my back window covers. Right now they look messy and don’t make a perfect seal for light unless it’s set just the right way. So? Buy some fabric, buy some reflectix and get to cuttin’. But it hasn’t been so easy… The truth is, I have struggled with making progress, even just starting on these window covers.

For 2 weeks, every single day, I’ve looked at “Insulation window covers” on my todo list. Every single day, I’ve had to move it to the next day. Doing this is NOT healthy for my mind. It’s not fun to not make progress. I’m reminded every day of the thing I “have to get done” but continue to procrastinate. “Oh but I need to go to eat dinner now.” “Oh but I want to get a workout in.” “Man, I just don’t have any time today.”

Put simply:

Ask me to journal and I’m there. Ask me to sew and I’m like ehhhhhh.

Me, Thursday October 27th, 2022

It’s not just the act of sewing though, it’s more than that. Making something from scratch requires so much more than I expected.

  • One sheet of insulation or two?
  • Do I split up the sheet into sections so they can fold?
  • How do I attach the insulation to the fabric so it stays up?
  • How much space do I put between the magnets?
  • (the list of decisions goes on and on)

The Options

Here’s the real key: if you look at my actions, the story is quite clear. I’ve been prioritizing my time in coffee shops behind the laptop more than my time spent working on these window covers. But, why?

It was only just a couple days ago when I finally connected the dots.

I was doing the dishes and reminded that there are window covers that you can buy online. They’re not cheap, but they exist. For just over $1000 I could get well-made covers for the windshield, front windows, back windows, and roof vent. I’ve already have window covers that I’ve made, though, for less than $100. To update them to a better quality, it’d probably be about $150. So to me, the options looked like:

  • Option 1: Spend over $1000.
  • Option 2: Spend $150 and just make them yourself.

But over the past 2 weeks, I’ve realized that it gets much more complex than that. The options are REALLY:

  • Option 1: Spend over $1000, wait for them to arrive, then do nothing else… ever.
  • Option 2: Spend $150, multiple days planning out the materials I need, then taking 4 trips to Joann Fabrics, Walmart, and Home Depot. Then there’s the anxiety and disappointment of looking at my todo list every day procrastinating on doing the actual doing. Then, there’s the time and mental energy spent actually hand sewing before realizing hand sewing will be impossible. Then, take a couple trips back to these stores to return things I don’t need. Then, there’s the time and mental space planning around the library’s hours and driving to the library to sew. Then there’s the feeling knowing that you’re a good 2 weeks in and still haven’t really done anything…

If you had told me this 2 weeks ago, I would’ve ordered them a year ago.

The True Unlock

My time working in coffee shops lately has showed me that there’s time that I now value. I’m starting to internalize that there’s a very REAL, tangible benefit to spending money on things that save your time.

This idea that surfaced to my subconscious while doing the dishes was something Naval Ravikant said in his Twitter thread, How To Get Rich:

No one is going to value you more than you value you. Set a high personal hourly rate, and stick to it. When I was young, I decided I was worth a lot more than the market thought I was worth. And I started treating myself that way.

Factor your time into every decision. Say you value your time at $100 an hour. If you decide to spend an hour driving across town to get something, you’re effectively throwing away $100. Are you going to do that?

Naval Ravikant

The thing I told myself when I read this advice 2 years ago (and for the past 2 years) was that, you need an alternative with your time, you need something to value, you need to do something valuable as an alternative. If I would otherwise spend my time picking my nose, then of course I’m gonna drive across town to get that thing. But, if I would otherwise spend my time solving a complex problem, creating something valuable for someone else, then thaaaaat’s where this actually makes so much sense.

I passed off this advice the past 2 years because I didn’t feel like I had something valuable to do instead. Focusing on the value I can provide lately has made me inherently value my time spent working even more. (As an aside, there’s question here of which should come first, valuing your time or having time that is valuable? But, that’s a totally different question I won’t go down right now.)

Now, I couldn’t help but think, what would I have been able to do all this time if I didn’t have to spend so much time on these projects? What would’ve changed without all this mental space taken up? Would my work have been more productive? Would I have had more time to read? To meditate? To spend time recharging in nature?

The Changes Going Forward

Unfortunately I’m not at the point where I’ll throw in the tower and buy these window covers online. I’m in too deep, ya know (that’s a logical fallacy but 🤫). That said, SOMETHING has to change.

The thing I’m focusing on is the why am I not doing the doing part. I’m changing 2 things, the ordering of projects and the particular language I’m using to break them down.

  1. Ordering of projects.

There’s an idea called the “Snowball Method” in paying down debts (student loans, credit card debt, etc.) that seems counterintuitive but actually works for a lot of people. The idea goes, order your debts by balance, then pay down your smallest balance debt first. After actually paying off that balance to zero, you’ll feel positive emotion having made progress, making you stay consistent to start paying down the next smallest balance. You prioritize wins and consistency over the most effective financial decision.

This is contrasted with the “Avalanche Method” where you order your debts by interest rate and then pay off the highest interest rate first. Mathematically, this is a more effective method, but we’re not mathematical beings, we’re emotional.

As you now understand, my projects have become very emotional, so I’m applying this “Snowball Method” to my own projects, starting with the smaller projects that I can complete and prioritizing small wins and consistency.

  1. Language.

I’m also focusing on the particular language I’m using in my todo list. Rather than having top-level, categorical tasks “due today,” then breaking them down to actionable items as sub-tasks that have no due date, I’m trying to flip it. So now, the top-level task has no due date and the next sub-task does. Now, I’m looking at a daily list of actually actionable sub-tasks I can take.

  • “Fix roof rust” – this is NOT actionable
  • “Go to a park and get out the ladder” – this IS actionable
  • “Redo voltage drop connection” – this is NOT actionable
  • “Find my hex wrench” – this IS actionable

After doing this, it’s just a matter of getting over any lasting mental hurdles, i.e. the things that limit me from taking the 37.5 seconds to find my hex wrench.


As for if these changes work, only time will tell. I will say that I’m very much looking forward to the day where my todo list is empty, where all this sh*t is over with, and where I can just focus on skiing, producing value, reading, and meditating. I can’t wait for that day.

It’s teaching me important lessons though, that’s for sure.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *