One of the most common complaints I hear from the women in my life, both those I work with and those I spend my time with, are about TIME.
I recently did a word association with my free community of women and this is what I got:
Need to manage it better.
“When I have the time.”
It moves too fast.
Our most precious, non-renewable resource.
Our. Most. Precious. Non-renewable. Resource.
Let that sink in for a moment. Now, take a look at your day-to-day life. Feel into your relationship with time. Your first reactions, first words, first emotions around time.
How do you feel?
If I had to guess, if you’re like MOST people I know, you feel just like the women I surveyed. Like there is never quite enough of it. I’ve heard it over and over and over again.
But then in the midst of all of this NOT ENOUGH, one of the women in the group posted a beautiful passage about time. She’d recently stumbled across it on Pinterest.
Some unnamed woman out there, a grandmother, suffering from, living with, dealing with cancer and what happens to us AFTER all of this, put this beautiful perspective out into the world. And I, for one, am so thankful for it!
“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping.
You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie.
Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays.
Man alone measures time.
Man alone chimes the hour.
And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures.
A fear of time running out.”
We alone measure time. We alone fear it will run out.
We drive ourselves crazy about TIME and about NOT HAVING ENOUGH.
But the truth is . . . we have WAY MORE CONTROL over these experiences with time than we realize.
Here are some ways to think about TIME and tools to RECLAIM it, to flip that feeling of NOT ENOUGH around, and to start building more freedom and ease, more room for beauty-seeking and magic-making, into our days.
One of the books that absolutely changed my life and CONTINUES to do so is Tim Ferris’, The 4-Hour Work Week. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. And I especially recommend his section on Elimination. I’ll be referring to a few of his recommended tactics here. Each has deeply influenced my relationship with time. And though I’m still a work in progress, I remember how EMPOWERED I felt when I stumbled across each one of these ideas.
- Pareto’s Law of 80/20. This essentially means that 80% of our experiences or results come from 20% of our actions, decisions, or time spent. 80% of our outputs come from ONLY 20% of our INPUTS. What does this mean for us? If we can get crystal clear on the 20% of things in our lives that cause 80% of our HAPPINESS, and the 20% of things causing 80% of our UNHAPPINESS, we could make some serious changes in our daily experiences. Identify the TOP 20% of things that SUCK the life out of you. Identify the TOP 20% of things that fill you with giddy, little-kid JOY. Then get rid of the former, and get MORE of the latter.
- Parkinson’s Law. “A task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. It is the magic of the imminent deadline.” We’ve all experienced this. The, “I have no idea how I’m going to get this done!” And then the, “It always comes together. It always gets done!” If we give ourselves unlimited time to finish something, it’ll NEVER GET DONE. If we’re given three months to complete a project, it will take all three of those months. If we’re given a day, it’ll take a day. If we’re given an HOUR, it’ll take an HOUR. By putting some clear boundaries in place, we can get much more productive in our days, months, years — IN LESS TIME — so we can LIVE LIFE.
- Death to Multitasking. As a society, we LOVE multi-tasking. We put it on a pedestal. We are PROUD of how well we can multi-task. We wear it like a badge of honor. But here’s the hard truth of the matter: Multitasking DOES NOT WORK. By spreading your attention around to cover countless tasks, you’re not going to finish any of them, and you’re certainly not going to do them WELL. Instead, if we put all of our attention on ONE THING at a time, if we train our mind and our body to stay focused on that ONE THING at a time, we’ll be MUCH more productive. We’ll blow through our tasks (that we’ve FIRST carefully screened using Pareto’s Law and THEN made a clear, short deadline using Parkinson’s Law), and have MORE TIME for the things we want to do.
- Not-To-Do List and Time-wasters. More important than having a to-do list that goes on for days and makes us feel bad about never finishing is getting CRYSTAL CLEAR on our NOT-TO-DO LIST. What are the things we do during the day that take our attention away from the most important tasks we need to finish? What pulls us away, down a deep, dark rabbit hole for minutes or hours, and leaves us shaking our heads, wondering how we got all the way down here? For me, that’s Facebook. That’s email. That’s Netflix. That’s the countless forms of entertainment, distraction, NOISE at my fingertips on any number of electronic devices around my house. THOSE things go on my not-to-do list.
- Yes or No. Period. A phrase I’ve used a few times already in this list is “getting crystal clear.” This just might be the most important tool we have to reclaim our time. We need to decide for ourselves, for our families, for our lives WHAT DO WE WANT to have, experience, do? What brings us the most JOY? What fills our lives with the feelings and enrichment that we desire most deeply? Once you get clear on that, you need to get used to making STRONG, DECISIVE CHOICES. Yes or No? What’ll it be? Period. Does this thing, this request, this activity directly connect with these deep desires for your life? Will it bring us closer to that desired goal? Will it make us FEEL GOOD about ourselves? If yes, then YES. If it feels like a HELL YES, like your whole body leans toward the thing in question, like your pulse quickens and you can feel the excitement coursing through you, then it’s a YES. Period. If this thing in question DOES NOT make you feel this, if it DOES NOT bring you closer to your desired life, then it’s a NO. Period.
Now, please remember, we’re all works-in-progress. These practices, as with anything, are a muscle needing to be strengthened. We’re not looking for perfection here. But I believe if we approach our lives like science experiments — if we TRY something, observe how it works and how it makes us feel, and draw conclusions about its usefulness in our life — then that’s LIVING. That’s being an active participant in the experience of life.
By actively experimenting, trying, learning, changing, we can CHALLENGE this feeling of NOT ENOUGH.
Because we ARE enough. We’re more than enough.
There IS enough time. More than enough.
Now, let’s reclaim it and get living!