This post was originally written in June 2014.. I thought it was worth a repost and a slight update. Here’s to more time this summer….enjoy!
This past spring, I was invited to speak at a library on the topic of “Time Management”. I accepted the invitation with the caveat that what I would really be talking about is “self management” — i.e. managing ourselves within our time. There really is no such thing as ‘managing time’. We can, however, manage ourselves differently so that we experience time differently.
Like most people, I get how fast time goes these days and I often wish I could get more of it. You know – more time to get more things done; to do more of the things I enjoy; to have more time for less ‘doing’ and more thinking time…..and so on. Since I can’t get more time, I try to find ways to slow it down. Or rather, to slow down my experience and perception of time fleeting so quickly.
Ahh yes, the speed of life. Do you feel this way too?
With summer here when the ‘living is (supposed to be) easy’….I thought it would be fitting to offer a few ideas on how to ‘slow down’ time so you can get the most out of this lovely (albeit short) season. And to be authentic, I won’t proclaim to have mastered these strategies nor will I ever likely fully do so. The idea is to live in these strategies and do your best each day to be aware and to catch yourself in the moment. That’s working towards ‘mastery’. So here you go – try these out.
5 Ways to Slow Down Time This Summer (or any season):
1) Focus Time
Multitasking and distractions are big thieves of time. And we let these thieves into our lives – daily. We juggle activities; answer emails at every ting; invite or allow distractions of all kinds to intrude. Not only do these habits make your valuable time less productive (yes, less), it also zaps your energy because multitasking spends way more brain energy then focused thinking.
Conversely focus brings the gift of fueling ourselves. Focus fuels our brain capacity and creativity; energizes us and keeps us sharp. And with the right kind of focus activity, it can put us in a state of flow — a delicious state that leads to more engagement, well-being and happiness and a feeling of time ‘well-spent’. And while time in flow can fly by (we get lost in time) this is usually a good, energizing ‘time-goes-‘fast’ experience vs. a depleting fast. And you can likely get more done. Those flow states usually involve using your top strengths. You can read more about strengths and flow in a past blog post here.
These days, there’s so much to juggle with the loads of work and life but there’s plenty of opportunity to rein in the gratuitous multitasking and distractions and ramp up a bit more of focus time in your day. Maybe it’s taking 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to write that report or think about a plan or start to flesh out a creative idea. Try it out this summer and see if you experience a shift in how you feel about time. And you can read more about this in an excerpt from my book, Ease, here.
2) Get Present
While this idea is related to focus, it deserves its own mention. How often do we allow our minds to be someplace other than where we actually are and are meant to be. Perhaps you are at a meeting but thinking about something else (the work that beckons? or concern about another matter). Or away from work (family time, friends, etc) but your supposedly ‘off’ time gets robbed as you worry or think about something else. Did you miss your son’s winning pitch at the baseball game because you were on your smart phone dealing with work?
Reality can certainly pull us away at times but if you can catch yourself in a reactive (and unnecessary) moment of ‘inattention’ and shift to a state of attention you will overcome an insidious robber of our time. From tuned out to tuned in — you will likely be rewarded with more moments that you truly wouldn’t want to miss this summer.
3) Reality Test Your To Do List
I’m often guilty of putting too many things on my to-do list and when I do that I know this can trigger the perception of ‘not enough time’ which is an energy drain to say the least.
Keep that ‘not enough time‘ gremlin at bay and take a harder look at your own expectations of what can get done in any given period of time. Learn to right-size your daily (and weekly, monthly) goals and to-do’s. This will also invite you to learn to say ‘no’ more often. Read more about how to say no and more tips in my book, Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of “Crazy Busy”.
4) Leave Margins – White Space
Using time wisely doesn’t imply you should pack in activities to the fullest of your day’s capacity. In fact, the opposite is what many of us need. Leave margins to ‘get there’, ‘do that’, or deal with contingencies (traffic, etc) — or just to think and recharge your batteries. This will give you more spaciousness and a feeling of enough time vs. not enough. And paradoxically, you will probably get more done and do it better as a result.
To do this well, learn to master your schedule better: deliberately leave some ‘white space’ around the edges (and in other places) ; make space for breaks to recharge (even tiny ones help) — even when it is ‘crazy busy’.
5) Choose Joy Over Angst
Well, nothing robs us of quality time more than negativity (worry, frustration, angst). A day in a funk is a day wasted. Sure, stuff concerns us, challenges us, gets us down – but focusing only on the negativity will guarantee to feed into the ‘scarcity of time’ experience.
Instead, learn to master the art of positivity – and make room for it especially during times of duress. This will not only broaden your capacity to deal with the tough issues and even boost your ability to generate more positive outcomes — it will also give you back ownership of your time. By having the choice of how you want to be at any given moment, you ‘own the moment’.
Own the Moment! Embrace it or waste it.
SO HOW DO YOU DO ALL THIS? “SOS” for you….
Well, for starters, check out my book, Ease – Manage Overwhelm in Times of ‘Crazy Busy’. It is filled with concrete tips, ideas and tools to support you in these and other strategies to help you take charge of your time, your effectiveness, your mood and mojo.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE ‘EASE TALKS’:
UPDATE (June 2015): Last year I’ve presented a number of Tele-talks and Webinars on various themes related to finding more ease in times of ‘crazy busy’. I am preparing more for the fall and year ahead. If you’d like to stay abreast of these (many are free!), make sure you sign up for my newsletter!
For now, I’m wishing you a happy start to the summer. May your time be plentiful, well-spent and filled with joy, well-being and lots of ease along the way.