Time is precious. Time is money. Time is of the essence. There’s never enough time in the day. Just a handful of the phrases we use that illustrate our relationship with time. A colleague asked me recently, if I said to you, ‘Time is…,’ how would you fill that sentence? And it is a good question that reveals a lot if we ponder on our response. Give it a go!
For a while I have realised that time has been scarce for me – or at least that is the relationship I have been having with it. I wake up knowing that there are not enough hours in the day to complete my overflowing to do list and as multiple ticks get made, even more items are crashed into the next day, week, month. As always of course, the more things we tick off, the more ‘to do’s’ get added on. My classic is that feeling I get when I have cleared my inbox and sent out well over a hundred emails in one go. I sit there rather smugly, with a deep-felt sense of relief that my ‘life’ has been cleared, only to forget that most likely the majority of those mails are going to be responded to and then require a further action!
Juggling time is a funny old thing. Time is a wholly human construct and I think what I have learnt is that we have to take responsibility for how we manage it (work in progress here!). Most people say healthy time management includes on a daily basis time for work and sleep, time for family and loved ones, and then importantly time for self (in whatever guise that may be) – and it is this last one that many of us struggle to include or even feel a necessity. Balance is the key, but according to research western society tends to consist of a cohort of people who may have too much time on their hands (e.g. the elderly, the unemployed) and then those who do not have enough (statistically those in their 30s to 50s juggling family life, work and other commitments).
So what to do? There are so many time management tools and books out there with an array of advice. My approach used to be to get up earlier and go to bed later. This was a very bad plan and one that led to a decline. Better advice perhaps is to look at priorities. There are some things in life that we have to let go of or simply are not urgent. There are others that we may not want to do but must rise to the top of the to do list. At a deeper level mindfulness and meditation can change our relationship with time. I have noticed that on days when I wake up panicking that there are not enough hours in the day, the whole day unfolds in a rushed, desperate way. However, if I have been meditating and am in a more rooted, connected space my relationship with time inherently changes. This last week I have been trying Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day free meditation and each day I feel a very small shift as my daily practice is reignited.
So Hubbers, as the summer holidays are upon us, and many are taking ‘time-out’ to be with loved ones and have a break, perhaps have a little ponder about your relationship with time. Are you always in a hurry? What message does this give colleagues, loved ones, those around you? How does it make you feel? Are you a different person when you are away and time-pressure is off? And finally, what can you do to support a positive relationship with time?
‘You always have time for the things you put first.’