There is no greater luxury than time! Yet we can get so absorbed in taking care of our day-to-day obligations that we lose track of time. We “manage it”, “waste it”, “spend it”, and “save it.” We wish the time would come. We wish the time would pass. We see time fly. We feel time drag. We get so immersed in life that our concept of time becomes an illusion that’s amplified by the makers of timepieces.
“Our computers, our movies, our sex lives, our prayers – they all run faster now than ever before. And the more we fill our lives with time-saving devices and time-saving strategies, the more rushed we feel.” — James Gleick , Author, Faster: the Acceleration of Just About Everything
Time is our greatest luxury. Here are 5 ways to keep it on your side.
1. Realize you can’t manage it. No one can manage time. Time just is. It’s a part of the time-space continuum. From a theoretical physicist’s point of view, our physical universe is laid out in a four-dimensional block composed of time and our three spatial dimensions. This means that time and your life are one in the same. Just as you would view an expansive landscape, our lives can be viewed as a lifescape, which would be the same as a timescape. So the only way to manage time is to manage yourself.
Your life and time are like a river. But unlike a river you can’t stop it or store it up. There is no way to dam it up. Once we see time from this perspective, we can move forward in keeping it on our side. Which leads to………
2. Make sure you are scheduling your values. What’s really important to you? Does your schedule reflect that? If you are NOT proactive in this, others will fill your schedule with activities and tasks not important to you. Life is much more than an artificially divided 40-hour workweek. Your lifescape is much bigger than that. There’s family, getaways, time to reflect, think, and plan. Day to day emergencies and pressing deadlines will fill up your lifescape with clutter if you don’t first and foremost schedule your values.
Studies show that most people use their schedules to let other people set their agendas.
Don’t schedule appointments and tasks. Schedule your values.
3. Use rules when decisions are hard. The rules you make will serve you well in doing what you value. Rules are neutral in and of themselves. They are a means to an end – helping you accomplish what’s important to you. When it comes to your health, time for reflection, or personal development, “pre-decided” rules are like personal assistants. If you wait until the alarm goes off on a cold morning when the bed is warm, chances are you’ll miss out. Your pre-decided rule or decision will move you forward. Rules can act as accountability assistants. Accountability energizes behavior.
4. Don’t let feelings dictate life management. Feelings and intuition are helpful when thinking. Yet unharnessed, they are a poor guide. Our moods are responders. We know that “bad” can feel good, and “good” can feel bad. We’ve experienced a good feeling about procrastinating, knowing that we did something less than good – only to discover that the good feeling was temporary. And we’ve experienced the opposite – doing what is a priority good even though the feelings weren’t great at the time. Eventually our feelings responded and we felt good!
5. Make sure your habits are helpers. Habits are often unconscious. Being aware of what they are and how they move us forward cannot be overstated. Here are 4 that I have found helpful when it comes to my lifescape.
- My habit – Work my “to do” list
Instead — Work to a strategic plan
“What are the outcomes I want?
- My habit – Do everything as it lands in my box
Instead — Prioritize based on importance, urgency and validity
“Where can I make the greatest difference?”
- My habit – Tomorrow is another day
Instead — Control the present
“How can I make tomorrow a better day?
- My habit – Time is an expenditure
Instead — Time is an investment
“Where will my greatest returns come from?”
When it comes to time I want to avoid 2 extremes – squandering it or being a slave to it. Both lead to stress and anxiety.
The investment of time is not about panic. It’s about pace. And sometimes turning off and tuning out is the best use of your time. Which is another way of saying, it’s the best use of your life.