It seems that we keep telling ourselves we should manage our time better. We think it is just a matter of “getting organized”. I would like to reflect on what I think managing our time actually involves and why we need to address the issue of time deficits.
First let us examine some common views of time. “Time is money” somehow means that if we are more efficient with our time, the more money or benefit we will accumulate. Also being on time is a quality that some people get obsessive about and when someone is late it is a major affront despite our complex and hectic life today.
Managing time is illusive and relative, sometimes the more we pay attention to it the more it slips away, the more we ignore it sometimes, the more we actually have control over it. Sometimes it is the worry rule; the more we worry about managing time the more likely we are that we will not accomplish our goals in that area.
In our technology obsessed world we are constantly accessing our phones, Facebook pages and You Tube videos. These devices are tools, not masters and instead of us managing them and using them to manage our time more efficiently, they tend to manage us. And when these gadgets consume every waking moment, there is no time left for creativity, interpersonal connection, and just plain silence, relaxation and/or reflecting on our life.
In hunter/gatherer societies food gathering was an intensive short-term activity and there was a great deal of time to feast, relax, play, and socialize. In so-called modern society work consumes a great deal of our time whether it is household tasks, childcare, volunteer work or paid work. We are often consumed by work with little time for thinking, reflecting and creating let alone socializing and developing solid relationships with others. The reasons for this are not something for this article.
I am focusing instead on managing of our time given these constraints, and its importance to our health and well-being. Without time for enjoyable, soul sustaining activities we wither and become robots driven by the trappings of modernity. It can even become a vicious cycle of working too much, spending or drinking too much and then having to work even more to keep up financially with diminished health and/or wellbeing. It becomes a treadmill producing burnout and dissatisfaction with our life quality.
These issues are why time management is really about managing your priorities and developing a life plan that allows balance, productivity and creativity to flourish. The reason that I think we are sometimes late to events and meetings is because our life is not balanced, it is instead a treadmill that never stops and this meeting is just one more thing to do. We long for doing nothing.
What if the unexpected happens? Our life descends into utter chaos because there is no room for glitches, everything is so tightly constructed. Then anger, frustration and even helplessness can creep into our life making us miserable.
What is the solution then? It is to take charge of our time and make it work for us and not be a slave to time. First we need to get really clear what our values and priorities are. We say “life is short” and it is. We can all sustain a short period of intense activity with no down time but over the long-term is devastating to our relationships, health, passion, and creativity.
If your values and priorities are family, then that is what you organize your time around. There are many “time vampires” that we can eliminate and then we can focus on what really gives us joy. If our job takes up a lot of time and it is not rewarding then we need to think about what changes we need to make. Keeping up with email is important but if we become a slave to it and we do not spend time with people who matter to us then maybe house cleaning should go into the “good enough” category. If family is precious then allotting time for family is essential.
When we spend our time doing things that do not matter squeezing out things that help us grow, bring joy and satisfaction and feed our soul then time management is not serving us. Time management is about setting our priorities about what things matter in out life and planning our life accordingly. Time management is actively taking charge of how we spend our time. We will always have competing priorities but some family members are getting older and visiting them is important. The time is now and you are the captain of your ship.
If your life is out of balance maybe short-term counselling or coaching will help you create a better, more rewarding balanced lifestyle. Call Dr. Denise to set up a telephone consultation or appointment at 604-685-4666 or 604-562-9130.