the Last but not Least…6 Radical Ideas for Having the Time of Your Life

plenty of time to cross the finish line

plenty of time to cross the finish line

There’s no doubt in my mind you are becoming a trendsetting time-efficiency icon.  We aren’t finished, though.  This entry marks the end of our 6-part time management series — 6 final radical [sometimes counter-intuitive] tips for maximizing the one thing we all have the same amount of: time.

plenty of time to make things from scratch

plenty of time to make things from scratch

13. Eat in!

Besides being healthier and much cheaper, eating IN is actually more time-efficient, especially when we cook from scratch.  When we make our own food we can double or even triple recipes and create multiple meals.  This saves prep and cooking time; it also does our meal-planning for us.

I love to double soups, in part because they taste better over the course of a few days, and in part because I can freeze 1/3 of them to eat weeks later.

I’ve also been known to make a big batch of Mexican rice and beans and, with a little variation, eat for a week! (I never get sick of homemade Mexican food.)

plenty of time to sit around the table together

plenty of time to sit around the table together

Monday dinner: Burritos, avocado, jack cheese, homemade crema and cole slaw, hot sauce    Tuesday lunch: Bean/rice quesadillas with sauteed peppers or mushrooms   Wednesday lunch: Rice and beans in a bowl adding fried plantains  Thursday dinner: Bean-only burritos adding sweet potato  Friday lunch: Nachos with all the leftovers

14.  Invest in a good phone headset.

plenty of time for long chats on the phone

plenty of time for long chats on the phone

Now, I want to be clear, I am not one to advocate combining talking on the phone with just any task.  On the contrary — it drives me crazy when I’m talking on the phone with someone as they are simultaneously checking their email or doing anything that requires their brain.  Truly connecting with each other requires both parties’ full attention.  I don’t think much of the multi-tasking we do actually saves time anyway — often it just forces us to lose focus.  Doing one thing at a time offers a fullness of attention, energy and effort that causes the best connection, the most accuracy, and the fewest mistakes.

There are some instances, though, when multi-tasking can really save time and no focus is compromised.  Anything that requires our hands but not our brains is a great choice for putting on our headset and dialing away.  An old stress of mine — finding time to call back beloved family members and friends for a catch-up conversation — has turned into a ritual I cherish.  I’ll dump three loads of laundry on the bed, don my headset, and keep dialing phone numbers until someone answers.  It never fails that I get to luxuriate in a long conversation while I get all my laundry folded.  The same goes for any *mindless* household chore such as ironing, clothes-mending, a big sink of dishes, gardening, etc.

plenty of time for a friendly game in the park

plenty of time for a friendly game in the park

15. Root for your own team.

In other words, stop watching sports and start playing them.  (Easy to do if you’ve already thrown out your TV.)  If you added up all the time you spent rooting for college or professional teams on TV and spent that time actually playing sports, what an athlete you would be.  (And, p.s., you don’t need to be very athletic to throw a ball around a bit.)  Active, life-creating activities tend to stimulate, invigorate, and engage us much more than passive, life-watching ones do — that’s why too much TV or computer time can put us to sleep.  One of my favorite family  traditions happens on Thanksgiving.  We forgo the popular TV version of football, and engage in an all-ages friendly game in a park.  All that running around and piling on top of each other gets us laughing and enjoying the day, as well as good and hungry for a feast.  So, get those Saturday afternoon hours back by getting your heart pumping.  Like anything else, after a few weekends, you’ll be so in the team spirit, you won’t even miss the lazy-boy.

plenty of time to notice the depth of silence

plenty of time to notice the depth of silence

16. Cut to the chase.

One of the most obvious places we can be mindful of our (and others’) time  is in how we communicate with each other.  Monitor your talking.  Notice how many words you are using,  what kind of details you provide, how engaged you are in what you are saying, and how engaged your listener truly is.  Notice how often the topic sways to one that feels like filler.  Notice if what you say when you open your mouth might constitute as mindless chatter or if it is a feelings-centered message from the heart.

I’ve learned this one the hard way many times — having shown up at a gathering of friends only to dissect TV shows for 2 hours or gossip about coworkers.  Sure, it’s mildly fun in the moment, but inevitably I leave feeling like I need to make one-on-one time with each person at the gathering to get the real connection I seek from my relationships.   I often use the expression, “capture the essence” or “bottom-line this” when I want to get to the heart of the matter with my clients, knowing we share an understanding about the connecting and transformational power of simple, straightforward, heart-centered speech.  We can capture the essence of what we want to communicate in any conversation and get spontaneity, conciseness, and the true message without all the extras.

plenty of time for heart-centered communication

plenty of time for heart-centered communication

There’s an old Quaker saying that challenges me in just the right way about this topic, “Do not speak unless you can improve upon the silence.” It reminds me just how powerful our mere presence can be without saying much at all — a concept that’s obvious when we spend time with someone very young or very old.  Time feels much more expansive when we know we are communicating what’s in our hearts, versus what’s swimming around in our heads.  So, as you begin to monitor your communication, ask yourself this, “if this was the last time I ever saw this person, would I be saying or asking this?…..What would I want to communicate?”

plenty of time to write in a journal

plenty of time to write in a journal

17. Journal

Long-hand writing as a time-saver — am I crazy? Actually, no.  Journaling comes up a lot in my coaching work as many clients see the  value of recording feelings, dreams, and the effect of the passage of time with a particular project or issue.  When I begin working with new clients I often listen to a laundry list of ways in which they have never been “good” journal-keepers.  (These are, invariably, the same clients who want to write for a living.)  Regular journaling is the habit no one ever feels like starting, and I understand why.  It can appear as a huge waste of time — time we don’t think we have.

In truth, working out how we feel about things on paper is not only incredibly cathartic, it also is a great tool for time management.   How? 1. The journal acts as a completely objective listener – writing in it can help us discern and ultimately articulate how we feel about things so that we can truly move forward in life versus lingering in our old habits and stories.  This can also help us “bottom line” things (see Tip #16) when we speak to others.   2.  Hindsight is 20/20, especially when we have an accurate record of what happened in the past. The journal can be a great teacher — keeping our old processes, thoughts, and feelings available to us — so we don’t have to learn the same hard lessons over and over again.

…And the final, radical idea for having the time of your life…

18.  Get yourself to an organized place, and then maintain.

plenty of time to commune with nature

plenty of time to commune with nature

Most of us feel we have the best control over our time when we can set ourselves up for organization and efficiency and then stick with it. The bottom line is, tasks seem to take less time when we do them habitually — whether we are offering up a prayer, flossing our teeth, or balancing our checkbook.  What comes to mind for me is the old 30-day rule that my mom either read somewhere or conjured up to creatively coerce my brother and me to make our beds in the morning.  “If you do something for 30 days, you’ll always do it.” This very simple habit-forming construct has saved me endless hours of wasted time looking for my keys or having to stop and do a whole sink-full of dishes (okay, still working on that one).  In short, we don’t have to put out nearly as many fires when we proactively develop the kinds of habits that keep our minds, homes, and hearts clear.  Maintaining a few small disciplines –even things as simple as keeping our resume updated or hanging our coat up when we walk in the door — positions us to spontaneously seize those really great opportunities that show up unexpectedly and make life the wonderful, wild ride that it always is.

Thank you, readers, for being with me for the time-saving tips of 2009 — it’s been fun!  Stay tuned for a brand new challenge coming in January.  Happy Holidays!

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Extra Time Overload? 5 MORE Radical ideas for having the Time of Your Life

lady.w

check 7 things off your list by biking

So, you’ve given up TV, cut your computer time in half, written 5 letters and balanced your checkbook on the bus, and joined your local food coop.  Not only are you getting organized and saving money in your newfound abundance of time, I hate to break it to you — you’ve also gone awfully green.

Do you want to really start accomplishing multiple tasks in one fell swoop and save time by the hour-load?  Well, get on your

8. Bike!

Biking checks seven boxes simultaneously.  Not only does it (1) get you where you need to go, it can (2) be your exercise for the day. Done.  If your commute to and from work isn’t long enough to count as daily exercise, you can always add some distance to your route. Pick up a fellow biker friend (extra points) to extend your trek or lap the park a few times prior to heading into the office.

In addition, biking is (3) easy on the wallet. You’ve got your initial investment of a good-enough bike snazzed out with a bell and lights and maybe a basket, a really good lock, and a great helmet.  After your initial investment, though, you pretty much travel for free except for the very occasional tune-up.  There are lots of great used bikes to be found out there — just a bit of hunting around town or on the internet should land you one by the weekend.

bunch of smart people parking their bikes

bunch of smart people parking their bikes

Biking is also, (4) carbon neutral. You don’t take up much space riding or parking a bike, and you certainly don’t use any gas or produce any toxic fumes.  That’s a way to sleep a little better at night.  Not to mention, biking is (5) fun! Go it alone or hook up with friends.  The bike enthusiasts I know are always scratching their heads about why the rest of us keep getting behind the wheel…or even taking the subway!

Biking also (6) helps you shop less because you know that whatever you pick up, you’ll have to tote home.  This of course saves money, but it also helps us, quite simply, consume less — a goal for many of us with an eye towards conscious, earth-friendly living. And, speaking of consuming less, I know a handful of people for whom picking up the biking habit helped them cut back considerably on drinking alcohol.

Last but not least, (7) biking is time spent outdoors. We all need our daily doses of fresh air and vitamin D.  Biking gets us out in good old Mother Nature where we get to enjoy the textures of the natural world and experience the weather.

Look at that!  So much accomplished and all you’ve done is ride to work.

9.  Pay your bills the day you get them.

And while you are at it, enter all your expenditures in your checkbook the day they happen.  Spending 3-4 minutes with your checkbook each day will not only keep your finances in order and help you avoid late fees, it also saves time. My banker mom taught me this one, and I am forever grateful.  Upon walking in the door with the mail, she sorts it, and then pays any bills that are in the pile.  From the small stack of receipts collected in her wallet, she enters her ATM and debit transactions in her checkbook at the same time.  Taking just a few moments to do this each day gives her an honest assessment of the numbers, and saves her the time-consuming tasks of searching for receipts, paying late fees, or balancing her checkbook!  Personal organization that stems from simple daily upkeep habits such as this one free up our time because fewer things hang over our heads nagging at us.

plenty of time to pause for a few moments

plenty of time to pause for a few moments

10. Meditate.

“What to do when you’re too busy to meditate?  Meditate, of course!” says Kelly McGonigal in the November issue of Yoga Journal Magazine.  Meditation — simply sitting quietly and observing our thoughts while consciously bringing our attention back to our breath and physical sensations — helps us develop mental focus and flexibility so we can accomplish more in less time.  It’s the old “accomplish more by doing less”  motif — one of my favorites — in action.

How does it work?  The simple act of sitting helps us draw an experiential distinction between what is real in our lives and what is mental chatter — that seductive stuff that has a tendency to pull us into the stories of our past or our projected future.  As we begin to differentiate between our thoughts and our experience in the moment, we offer ourselves a kind of clarity, sharp focus, and calm that naturally organizes our priorities; time feels more expansive.

I have a friend who was given this challenge: Meditate for 4 minutes, 3X a day.  Her mentor claimed that anyone can find 4 minutes, and she’s right.  In fact, we can add meditating to the list of things we might do while taking the subway or bus to work.  The length of time matters much less than the commitment to sit and be for a period each day.  As you make an effort to get your time back, consider meditation the way astrologist Rob Brezny prescribes it: “take ten deep breaths as you imagine you’re inhaling eternity and exhaling the grinding tick-tock.” Ahhhh.

11. Stop Wearing Makeup

plenty of time to make art

plenty of time to make art

All that time putting it on just to take it off again.  This routine can even double itself in a day if, say, you opt to exercise in the early evening or shed some tears talking to your shrink during your lunch hour.  Or what about when you want to make out with someone mid-day?  I’m telling you, you’re gorgeous just the way you are!  Imagine the freedom of feeling “ready to go” all the time.  When you bag the cosmetic routine, you get that, plus all those minutes (and dollars) back, not to mention the gorgeous reflection of the real you staring back at you in the mirror.

the real fun of holidays

the real fun of holidays

12. Go Giftless for Holidays.

Talk about an enormous time-saver.  The December holiday season gets a whole lot less stressful when you take out shopping, buying, wrapping, packing, sending, and  returning.  The best part is you get more time to do all the good stuff — the cooking, baking, decorating, making things, creating and preserving traditions, communing, singing songs, and…giving.

being with each other -- the greatest gift

being with each other -- the greatest gift

Yep, you can still give without buying things or even exchanging physical items at all.  There’s the gift of your presence, the gift of your focused listening, and the gift of simply sharing time — the thing most everyone claims to cherish above all else.  Without the distraction of STUFF, we can see we’ve got all kinds of precious time to be real with one another.

Stay tuned for the final installment of Radical Ideas for Having the Time of Your Life.

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Let’s Get Down To It: 5 More Ideas for Having the Time of Your Life

coop

Who was I fooling?  I said at the beginning of this series that it would be 4 parts long.  But, with all the experimenting, documenting, and brainstorming I’ve been doing, I’ve been gathering all kinds of ways to get your time back…so, we’ll keep going until we are out of good ideas.

We’ve (1) Learned to Say No and we’ve (2) realized that Everything is a Choice.  Those two are the tips we can come back to month to month and moment to moment as we get on the path of owning our time.  So much of what happens for us each day regarding our time is a result of those two important practices.   With that in mind, let’s look now to some specific and measurable choices we can make to truly transform our experience of busyness and time.

truly quiet time

truly quiet time

3. Get Rid of your TV.

Sorry.  You knew it was coming, right?  I have to say, most people I know who feel busy and “don’t have time for ________” seem to have an awful lot of time for TV.  Even those of us who claim we don’t “watch” TV — we just “have it on” — still suffer the distraction of noise and changing images.  These are the last things we need when we are seeking a sense of inner peace, focus, and productivity.

In my own experiments and in polling friends and clients, I’ve come to learn that it’s much easier to quit something completely than to attempt to cut back.  (That’s why dieting can be so darn difficult.)  So, throw a nice piece of fabric over your TV screen until Christmas and notice what it’s like to get all those hours back.  I’m telling you, after 21 days and you won’t even miss it.

4. Stop telling yourself that email is faster.

plenty of time to learn a new hobby

plenty of time to learn a new hobby

Unless you are coordinating multiple people for an event, in which case email is much more expedient, composing email  is simply not a quicker form of communication.  Pick up the phone or say it in person.

5. While you’re at it, cut back considerably on your computer use.

Let’s face it — many of us waste loads of hours on the computer.  Facebook, Youtube, online shopping, over-working, unnecessary emailing — it all sucks away our time and then we wonder why we don’t have any.  Sure, it’s easy to say that being on the computer for one reason or another is the norm, but it doesn’t have to be, at least for you.  I have a friend who turns on her computer once a week, and she doesn’t miss a thing.  What she does have is plenty of time to read, cook from scratch, do her artwork, and exercise every day.  She also sleeps 10 hours per night.  How about that?

Try this for the rest of the month: turn your computer OFF (this includes handheld computers and phones) after 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. and don’t turn it on again until morning…and turn it off for the whole weekend.  When I started doing that, I was amazed at how much more time I had, and even more amazed at how much more efficient I was during my ON hours.  Want your time back?  Log off.

food coop

food coop

6.  Co-op.

Co-op (meaning engage in tasks cooperatively) whatever and wherever you can.  So often the pursuit of saving time can be a paradox.  You spend a little and get even more back.  I’ve found this to be true in my participation at my local food coop — a few hours of work a month and somehow I seem to actually spend less time “hunting and gathering” my food, in addition to all the other benefits of coop membership, like saving tons of money and knowing where my food comes from.

As an interdependent species, it makes sense to interdepend on each other — sharing in responsibilities and in the benefits of consensus — and it builds community in the long haul.  I have a friend who participates in a monthly soup exchange.  She spends a few hours shopping for and making a huge quantity of a delicious soup (enough for 9 large mason jars).  Then, she drops the jars off at the soup exchange and gets 9 different soups in return — enough to feed her family for up to 2 weeks!

So many tasks can be accomplished cooperatively — grocery-buying, gardening, child care, breastfeeding (or milk-sharing), carpooling, car-sharing, home-schooling, meal-swapping, yard work, etc.  In fact, pretty much anything can be cooped — all it requires is a great idea and a bit of organizing — and in most cases, the time you save interweaves with saving money too.  So, stop going it alone!

7. Take public transportation.

crucial time for daydreaming

crucial time for daydreaming

All that delicious time!  In addition to draining our bank accounts when we fill our cars up with gas and contributing to a host of rising environmental issues every time we get behind the wheel, we also waste incredible amounts of time driving because we can’t do anything else. Taking public transportation gives us those precious moments back so we can balance our checkbooks, read newspapers or books, write birthday cards and letters,  make grocery lists, plan parties and vacations, compose texts and emails, or do nothing and bask in the relaxation of mindless donothingness.  This week: experiment!  Check out your local bus or subway schedule and notice what it’s like to have all those commuting hours to do with what you please.

What’s working for you, dear readers, as you experiment with having the time of your life?  More tips coming soon….

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Let’s-not-be-shy-or-wimpy Idea #2 for Having the Time of Your Life

plenty of time for rough-housing

plenty of time for rough-housing

Last week, as we mused on time management, we took the risk to Learn to Say No.  I don’t know about you — but time is already feeling a lot more abundant in my world.  Which brings us to:

Radical Idea #2 for having the time of our lives.

#2: Realize that Everything is a Choice.

If learning to say No is all about recognizing that voice that says, “should,” then Realizing that everything is a Choice is about catching yourself when you think or say “have to.”

The truth is, there are very very few things we actually have to do. Everything is a choice on some level, whether it is our action or our attitude.  Remember that scene in the 1980s movie Lean on Me where Morgan Freeman, playing the infamous inner-city principal Joe Clark, gets arrested?  He’s sitting in jail and someone comes in and starts telling him all the things he “has to” do.  And Joe Clark simply and firmly says,  I don’t have to do nothin’ but stay black and die!”

He’s right.  “Have to” is everywhere in our collective American speech pattern.  It’s so common it can seem like if we aren’t saying “should” to each other or ourselves, we are saying “have to.”  In fact, “have to” has become a kind of euphemism that bails us out from actually thinking or feeling — a bail-out we’ve grown so accustomed to that we act as though the particulars of our lives are forced upon us. 

The problem with “have to” is it’s terribly disempowering. It can lead us to believe we have very few choices in our lives — as though someone else is in control — when in fact the opposite is true; we have thousands of choices per day.

Seeing that everything is a choice is important because it puts us in touch with our true feelings and needs.

As soon as your brain hears you say (or think) a word like “choose” it will want to know more.  Something like, “I have to go to the dentist,” becomes, “I’m choosing to go to the dentist…because I value my overall health and I know that my dental health is a part of that.”  Notice the difference in tone between those two sentences.  I know, for me, that getting rid of “I have to,” immediately opens me to the possibilities within my choices.

This getting-to-know-yourself process is so crucial for owning your time because as you examine your choices, you will be able to gauge how important something is to you.

Even with things in our lives that feel like imperatives, such as taking care of our kids or going to work, we still have a lot of choice.  We may be choosing one thing to avoid the consequences of other choices.  We don’t have to take care of our kids, but most people choose to for any number of reasons from wanting them to be happy and healthy to wanting to be known as a “good” parent.  Seeing something that feels really fixed in our lives as a choice forges a self-awareness that is rich in truth and present reality.  When we know the truth, so much opportunity opens up, including the option to choose a new viewpoint on an old issue.

Albert Einstein takes credit for many of my favorite quotes, and this is one of them: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Realizing everything is a choice is a practice in self-awareness and accountability.

It’s seeing that the choices we make today result in the outcomes we have today.  Different choices would result in different outcomes.

So, when we see our choices as choices instead of have-to’s, (which imply judgment of sorts, just like their cousin “should”) we can feel the expansiveness of the wide range of options available to us in any moment of our lives.  We do own our own time — it belongs to us.  How will we choose to fill it?

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18 Let’s-Not-Be-Wimpy-or-Shy Ideas for Having the Time of Your Life

plenty of time for plenty of people

plenty of time for plenty of people

In last week’s The Time of Your Life entry, we took a good look at questions about time that begin with Why.  Why do we insist we are busier these days than ever before?  Now it’s time we look at How.  As is true with making any sustainable change in our lives, we must look first at the attitudes we hold — including those unwritten rules we all grew up with — and question their validity or applicability to our lives now.

In his book Creating Affluence: The A-to-Z Steps to a Richer Life, world-renowned author Deepak Chopra teaches,  “It is only by questioning what people take for granted, what people hold to be true, that we can break through the hypnosis of social conditioning.” …the hypnosis of social conditioning…I just love that.  So, when we question, we start to raise our awareness around what’s really true for us. This enables us to make mindful choices versus simply going through the motions, assuming our own habits are unchangeable, or doing what other people do.

Without further ado…Idea #1 for Having the Time of Your Life:

1. Learn to say No.

This one is one of the toughest and also one of the most important when it comes to getting our time back.    Learning to say No means learning to identify when that voice in your head (or coming from someone else) says, “you really should_______.”  The old favorite “should” word — judgment in disguise — is our first clue that we are making our choices based on something besides our true needs and desires.  Ask yourself, is this something that’s really important to me?  Who am I doing this for?  Am I choosing to go to this [party/family event/volunteer opportunity] because I want to or because I want to be liked?  When we make choices based on “shoulds” we not only put ourselves in a position where it is easy to resent someone else, we also undermine our own authentic experience.

On the contrary, when we can suspend judgment long enough to check in with our own needs and desires, two opportunities arise:

1.  It’s easier to allow ourselves the option to gracefully say No.

2.  If we say Yes, we say Yes knowing what our true motivation is, so we can enter an experience wholeheartedly.

Poet David Whyte has a famous quote I return to most mornings before I begin doing anything of consequence:  “One way to come to yes is to say no to everything that doesn’t nourish and entice our secret inner life out into the world.” I love this idea — not only because it exhibits significant trust in each human being’s inner resources, it also speaks to the biggest benefit of learning to say No: you learn what Yes is. This is where the time-saving really comes into play.  In saying No to that which doesn’t bring us fully alive, we make space for that which does to beckon us, making time feel rich and abundant in its inherent and happy fullness.

saying yes to new friends

saying yes to new friends

Learning to say No may manifest as anything from a RSVP with Regrets to a lackluster invitation to breaking up with a friend who sucks you dry.  Both take courage.  I have a friend who repeatedly says No to most things I invite her to.  I would bet she says No as often as 7 out of 10 times I solicit her wonderful presence somewhere (not that I’m counting.)  While I wish I saw her more, my reaction to this is not, as one might think, to stop inviting her.  Rather, I notice I hold respect for her boundaries and I really, really enjoy her when she does show up, knowing she’s there wholeheartedly.  In fact, her ability to say No has ended up being one of the things I love most about her — she’s honest.  And, when she’s present, she’s really present.  I don’t take one minute of her time for granted.

Imagine if the people in your life didn’t take one minute of your time for granted!  Learn to say No — to your boss, to your family and friends, to anything that doesn’t truly pull you.  When you do, I think you will notice your Yesses feel more like Yesses and you have a whole lot more time.

What have you learned about saying No?  I welcome your comments.

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The Time of Your Life

plenty of time

There are a handful of blogs I visit on a weekly basis, and one of them is by a dynamic woman named Britt Bravo who, besides being a well-known blogger, do-gooder, writer, teacher, coach, and all-around great gal (I think she has even more distinctions I’m not mentioning here), she also happens to be my former roommate — from back in my short-lived San Francisco days.  A week or two ago Britt wrote a post entitled 5 Tips for Finding Time to Cook. The post itself is informative and includes some good ideas, such as keeping your grocery list in your phone so you always have it with you, and organizing dinner parties and meal swaps (a woman after my own heart, indeed).  What really stuck with me, though, is when Britt said this, “If I have time to cook dinner, I know that my day is just the right amount of busy.”

calendarReplaying this provocative sentence in my head has me musing around the concept of time.  Have you noticed that “not enough hours in the day…” seems to be nearly everyone’s mantra these days?  No wonder yoga philosopher Ganga White so eruditely refers to time as the “poverty of our era.” It’s true — I couldn’t tell you the number of times a week I hear some variation on the following sentence, “I just don’t have the time.” (“I’d love to, but I just can’t find the time”…”If I could only carve out the time”…”Great idea, but who has the time?!”)  I hear it so often I’m starting to wonder if there’s some sort of competition going on — who will win the award for being the busiest this month?  Who has the most stressful job?  Who is the most tired among us?  Like the strangely metaphorical American dinner table scene, who has piled the most onto her plate?

Have you ever noticed in a given day how often advertisers want you to believe their product (a high-tech cellphone, the latest feature for your TV, a certain brand of take-out food, a kitchen utensil, a cleaning product, a new computer program) will magically save hours and hours of your precious time?    If it’s not making us thinner, younger, or richer, it’s saving our time, right?  In the meantime, (pun intended) it seems like the people with the most “time-saving” gadgets are the ones most often complaining about not having any of it.  Pamela Kristan, author of The Spirit of Getting Organized: 12 Skills To Find Meaning and Power in Your Stuff says, “The speedy electronic devices that mediate much of our experience leave us wired, overwhelmed, and forever behind.  Awash in a tidal wave of information, we’re painfully aware of everything we could (or should) do; our expectations rise with the flood.”

Is time really the commodity we make it out to be?  I’m starting to wonder if time itself  is the issue here, or rather, is hankering for more time just another way to compound feelings of scarcity — another cultural device that causes us enough stress to make us want to buy things; to consume.  In other words, we aren’t really looking for a special technique or technological improvement to save time; maybe what we are really after is the feeling of time being less precious.november

Sally Kempton, a nationally-known meditation teacher, writes an article in Yoga Journal Magazine that I look forward to reading every month. This month’s article was (surprise!) about Busyness.  She says many great things, one of them being this: “On a fundamental level, being busy nourishes the ego’s need to feel important.” As soon as I read that, I immediately thought of my own tendency from time to time to say things — even to the people closest to me — like, “I’m too busy to talk today.  Can you call me tomorrow?” or “After next Wednesday, (after Thanksgiving…after this deadline…) then I’ll be able to relax and think about this.”  As true as those statements feel in the moment as I’m juggling any number of projects and appointments, when I stand back, I realize the paradoxical nature of what I’m saying.  My head is feeling busy and bothered — my schedule is full of things to do that help me feel needed, important, and productive.  Meanwhile, someone needs me, and I’m too busy.  This is true for so many of us, isn’t it?  And if so, then why are we too busy for the very people we are trying to make time for, including ourselves?  Why don’t we ever feel like we have enough time?

plenty.of.time.for.a.stroll.in.the

plenty of time for a stroll in the park

Wait a second!  Don’t we all have the same amount of time?  Furthermore, don’t we all have the same amount of time as the “renaissance” folk of eras past — the kind of people you read about who had 9 kids, hand-sewed all their clothes, made every meal from scratch, wrote letters as their only form of correspondence, became fluent in 5 languages, and never missed a Sunday church service in all their lives?  These people didn’t have more time — perhaps they simply knew what was important to them.  Maybe they didn’t underestimate themselves.  Could it be they trimmed the fat off their lives and focused on the basics?

The truth of the matter is this: All we have is time and time is all we have…and that’s been true since the beginning of time.  It’s about time we take a hard look at what we are really wanting, yes?  Britt Bravo has figured out what her “right amount of busy” looks like — what it includes and what it doesn’t.  What’s your personal right amount of busy?

Today’s post is the 1st installment of a 4-part series on Time Management.  In the next 3 installments we’ll look at stategies — real, sustainable strategies — that get to the heart of the time issue and implore us to make tangible changes in our own lives that will give us our time back.  But, since Time Management is the most boring title in the history of boring titles, let’s call it this: [At Least] 15 Let’s-Not-Be-Shy-or-Wimpy Ideas for Having the Time of Your Life. I welcome your comments on what’s been said so far, and let’s get brainstorming, shall we?  Installment 2 coming soon….

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