Finding the Time We Need
Time is the one resource, the one possession, of which we each all get the same amount. No matter who we are or where we live, every one of us receives 24 hours a day.
We each get the same amount of time and we never know when it might run out.
Time is precious to us. We work hard to measure even the smallest amounts of time. Some of us believe our time is money. We do not want anyone to waste a moment of our time. It is almost as if we could hoard spare moments or days in boxes to use them later.
Some of us are anxious about time management. We want to spend time as effectively as we can. Each second counts. It is important to us to squeeze all the value from each minute.
I know people who are counting the weeks until they retire. They are eager for the day when their time is their own. They believe there will no longer be anyone telling them how to spend their time.
It is not clear to me whether people who work so hard to save time actually savor it more. They seem to create games around saving time to convince themselves they are winning.
At the end of each day, every one of us has spent the same amount of time. None of us has saved even a second to carry over to the next day. We have no time reserves.
We may not be able to save time, but it is possible to spend it and invest it well. As we spend our time each day, it seems to me time is a matter of quality over quantity. We cannot add to our supply of time, or even know how much we have.
Running Out of Time?
We see ourselves as in control of our own schedules. It can be intensely frustrating when someone else appropriates some of our valuable time. We adjust our time commitments on all our devices with the touch of a fingertip.
Whether working or taking a trip, we want our time to be as productive as possible. We try to squeeze more things into our schedules in an effort to squeeze more out of them.
What happens when we start running out of time? Is there any way to get more? How do we find the time we need?
There are people I know who would love to be more productive even while they are sleeping. They are not happy that sleep takes them away from what they would like to accomplish. It is almost as if they see sleep or rest as intrusions in their schedules.
We believe the best way to invest our time as wisely as we can is to focus on doing things.
As a recovering workaholic, I understand being motivated to get things done. Achieving things is one of the things which most motivates me and one of my favorite strengths. I feel a great feeling of satisfaction with accomplishing a goal or completing a project.
There is also a rush of adrenaline with working to meet an approaching deadline. Will we have the time we need and will we be able to squeeze everything we need from it?In fact, being is at least as important as doing when it comes to investing our time wisely.
As we learn to be less controlling and less anxious about time we may begin to realize we have enough.
Having What We Need
It is easy to convince us we need more. There is so much we could do, so many ways we can make a contribution. If only we had the time we need the world would become a better place.
While it might sound ironic, my experience is we have the time we need.
The most productive way I have found of investing time is in being more than doing. There are more things I would like to try than time to try them, and probably always will be. The best way I have found for finding the time we need is using some of it to stop doing.
It seems counterintuitive. How wise can it be to take this limited resource we need to get things done and stop doing things?
When I spend all my time trying to do things I tend to get carried away. My mind gets focused on producing results and overcoming obstacles. I start perceiving anything, or anyone, who might have something to teach me as an obstacle. We have no time to consider or reflect because we spent it all on pushing forward. There is no reserve, no savings account of time available for longer ranged investments.
It is easy for us to spend time almost faster than we receive it. It almost feels like we are living from temporal paycheck to temporal paycheck.
There is a sense in which the impulse to spend our time and effort overwhelms us.
Our conscious, intentional decision to pause and reflect helps us see time more clearly.
We take a deep breath and begin to appreciate we have more time than we thought we did.
Spending Time Together
I am convinced this drive to control time and desire for more grows from our insecurity. We believe we are the essential actor in making a difference in the world. Without us our hopes are doomed to failure.
In addition to taking time for reflection and contemplation, we can work with other people.
Spending our efforts and time together with other people helps us get better results. The world, and all our contributions to it, do not revolve around us. Our time goes further when we invest it in others.
We might want more time, but we find we have the time we need.
How will we strengthen the way we invest our 24 hours today?
What are we squeezing into, and from, our time this week?
[Image by Muffet]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.