Time – it’s the strangest thing. They always say as you get older, time passes more quickly, and I often smile and think I have turned into my grandma as I find myself repeating, “Where has the year gone, it’s almost Christmas?!”.
It’s the age old thing that when you’re having fun, time flies, yet start that tedious task, and the hours drag on forever. Little children have a very different concept of time – unlike us adults they are not permanently obsessing over it, worrying there is never enough of it, and feeling that with an ever-burgeoning to do list, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
A few weeks ago when I started my new health regime, I sat back and observed my past year, and wondered what learning I could take away from it. I realised with great clarity that I had without doubt been suffering from what Deepak Chopra calls “time sickness”. I was rushing from A to B, multiple meetings in the day, never stopping, permanently obsessed with what HAD to be done, but always knowing that those 43 things on my to do list could simply not be achieved in the available time. Weekends were the same, multiple things to do, just of a different nature. Looking back, I think I probably felt nauseous half of my waking hours.
This week I started Deepak Chopra’s latest 21-Day Meditations (download it for free here) and this is what he has to say about ‘time sickness’:
The psychological and physical pressures that we place on ourselves in trying to meet the artificial demands of a modern time schedule has been called “time sickness.” We feel there is never enough time in one day to do everything we need to do. Then we feel guilty, frustrated, and anxious for not accomplishing what we hoped to, taking us further off track.
That was me all over. So how to overcome this time sickness so many of us suffer from in the modern era? Deepak talks about returning to the present moment, and using meditation as a tool:
To heal this time dysfunction we need to change our experience of time… [and] journey into the silence of our inner self and understand firsthand the timelessness of present-moment awareness. This experience shifts us away from clock time into the now.
For me, meditation has certainly worked. As my twice daily practice continues, it feels as if the world has slowed down around me (actually I have probably slowed), there is no longer that rushing feeling that used to engulf my every day, and I wake up feeling ready to ‘live’ my day moment by moment.
My morning routine has helped. Arising, deciding how I want to BE today, not what I need to DO. Going through the first hour of my morning mindfully, including eating my boiled egg! It used to be that I would devour a bowl of porridge whilst answering emails, on the phone, having a meeting or planning ahead. No present moment awareness at all. Now there is something quite mindful about the process of putting my egg in the egg cup, cracking the lid, ensuring I don’t get shell in my mouth and the yolk doth not runneth over, creating and dipping my soldier, and making sure I have the right amount of salt and pepper – just so! It’s a peaceful and present start to my day that I now love.
On a practical time management note, I have followed some of the advice of productivity Ninja, Graham Allcott.
Firstly: an empty inbox policy. Surely this couldn’t be possible? Well, I set a day aside and went through every single inbox mail and actioned all I could. Some were research I needed to read, so I created a ‘to read’ folder. Some were awaiting responses, so I created a folder of that name. And a handful needed action at a future date – the ‘to action folder’. I got by inbox down to 6 emails and every day I leave a small amount of time aside to keep it like this. A different system may work for you, but I can honestly tell you, it’s changed my life – reduction in feelings of nausea, tick.
Secondly, Mr Allcott talks about prioritising the tasks that lead to the end results you really want. Don’t avoid the nasty jobs, put off the time-consuming tasks, or delay the ones you just don’t want to do. Prioritise the important ones, do them first thing, and see how much better you feel for having got them out of the way and moved forward.
Graham Allcott’s wonderful Action for Happiness talk, How to be a Productivity Ninja (and his book of the same name) shares many more tips like this… so if you think you are suffering from ‘time sickness’, take a step back, try to live in the moment, and I wholeheartedly recommend a runny-yolk boiled egg to kick-start your day!