Time Management equals Life Management
To create the life you want – step out of reacting and into becoming proactive!
A story: Father and son are at the beach collecting ‘stuff’ for the new aquarium. The son immediately fills the bucket with sand; the father asks him how he will then fit the stones and other larger items. The sand is tipped out and larger items placed in the bucket, finally comes the sand, naturally filling up all the gaps. This story represents the essence of Time Management.
Time Management (TM) is really life management. In order to manage anything we need to know where we want to go or how we want to ‘be’/feel. This naturally is the prerequisite of being proactive, sounds easy but so often we don’t spend the time defining what kind of life we want to create. The other essential part is self management, enough to combat the ‘seduction of immediate satisfaction’ and act in accordance with our values, priorities and goals.
When we are highly proactive we do not blame circumstances, conditions or conditioning for our behaviour, we operate within the circle of Influence. We understand that irrespective of where we are at, it is as a result of our own choices.
In one way being proactive is about reclaiming our power – our respons – ability.
TM process starts by taking a good look at ourselves and gaining clarification around our values and priorities.
To identify values and priorities:
- Ask yourself: How would I like my life to be?
- Consider: What would I like said about me at my funeral by close friends and family?
- Imagine: You are 84 years old, reflecting upon your life, what you would like to see, how would you like to be able to describe it?
Next step is to work out what you currently spend time on. Best to do it as it occurs, in order to avoid distortions.
Measure how long tasks take, list your tasks over a couple of days so you have a clear picture of what you do spend time on.
Upon reflection of time activity, be really honest and identify what is at the core of your choices. A need to be liked or to have control often means we do too many things for others, don’t delegate enough, or spend too much time in unproductive conversations with others. Do you spend much time on the net? Or in unproductive meetings? Why? How can it change?
Consider what is at the heart of your ‘time wasting’.
Consider your personality in the context of time management:
Personal characteristics contributing to poor time management
- Detail focus
- Feeling overwhelmed and a victim
- Little delegation of work
- Needing to control
- Needing to be liked
- Bad habits
Another key element in not doing the most important things first is protecting ourselves from experiencing an unpleasant emotional state, e.g. surfing the net or going shopping rather than doing the tax, where we would be likely to experience a bad mood.
For those of you who think that there is time to be found and stress to be reduced through this process, you will benefit from doing the suggested exercises.
Mindfulness – the key to freedom from suffering
On Christmas Day I was by myself. Lovely friends had invited me to join them, but once I had started spending time alone I realised that I couldn’t join them.
I spent the day watching over my mind, not allowing it to leap into unhealthy interpretations of the fact that I was alone on Christmas Day. Thoughts would start: ‘everyone else is with family now’, to ‘I bet everyone else is having so much fun’, to ‘everyone else is creating memories’, to wanting to conclude things about me as the reason for me being alone etc., etc.
While alone I could create the space in my mind to nip those thoughts in the bud, to not allow them to unfold, spread and fill my cells and being. I could witness them, show them the door and replace them with: ‘look at how privileged your are, you have a beautiful house, you have great food, great books, nothing you have to do, your only focus is to have a good day!’
Deepak Chopra lists the following steps involved with suffering:
- Overlooking actual facts ( a day off, beautiful surroundings)
- Adopting a negative perception (focus on the fact that I was alone)
- Reinforcing that perception by obsessive thinking (think of all the other times similar situations have occurred, and from that concluding that I am a failure etc…)
- Getting lost in the pain without looking for a way out (surrendering to the pain, seeing self as a victim, poor me!!!)
- Comparing yourself to others (no one else is alone, every one is having a lovely time….uuhu uhuuu…..)
- Cementing the suffering through relationships (excluding all social contact, no one thinks of me…)
I knew that with other people around the ‘space’ would be gone, I would not be as able to witness the mind-talk. I didn’t want to bring my ‘stuff’ to anyone else nor did I want the ‘stuff’ to have the space to grow.
I managed to have a good day, part of the quality of the day was the learning, the mindfulness, the knowledge gained of the strength position I am in when I know that I can control ‘the suffering me’….
It is always experiencing the harder times where we learn something, and I learnt!
So once again, be aware of your mind chatter, listen, notice and see if it serves you. All personal development starts with this, it is also the starting point for improving our relationships. When we know and own what we feel then we don’t transfer our own stuff onto others, we are able to separate our issues from their issues.