The Real Problem With Time? We Behave Like We Have Too Much Of It…
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives – Annie Dillard
It’s not time we lack, its a reverence for the preciousness of time and a day to day acknowledgement of its declining balance.
We live like we are going to live forever such is our wastefulness of time – like there will be a re run or act II (reincarnation advocates aside).
People who are the most productive with their time, energy and attention are those who don’t flitter it away like there was some never ending supply in the company store room or behind the sofa.
For ‘productivity masters’ the most important thing is the internal recognition of times preciousness – not the organisation of external resources and systems for squeezing more meaning-less stuff into their days.
Human beings say they are are time starved but tend to tolerate:
- Attendance at meetings that they know are crappy or irrelevant.
- Spend hours sat in cars achieving nothing – except the slow progress from a geographical A to B.
- Putting off the really important things in their lives ‘until we find time’. (Guess what? You never find time – it is only made).
- Spending too much time in front of TV’s, Smart Phones, Lap tops.
- Meandering conversations and chronic inability to make decisions or headway in the workplace.
- Shitty relationships, shitty bosses, shitty work that has nothing to do with their innate abilities. Watching the world go by the office window no less.
- Justifying our procrastination in keeping things as they are.
- Our own bullshit.
I don’t believe anyone really knows what causes a person to shift their approach to time and live out life like time is the only non recoverable commodity (goodness knows I find myself sleepwalking through plenty of days). I do know however that sometimes its dramatic events; birth of children; brushes with mortality, being hit on the head with jaw dropping wake up calls or, the realisation that maybe more years are behind than in front of us. The risk of waiting for the dramatic wake up call and ‘carrying on business as usual’ is an awfully big risk wouldn’t you say?
So what to do.
Recognise that at some level you are the cause. Blaming others or circumstances for your lack of time maintains the status quo and makes you power-less to alter reality, the future.
A sense of urgency. Adopting a sense of urgency is not the same as being in panic or headless chicken mode. It’s showing up like your time matters to you. That stuff needs to get done and there literally is no time to waste. Be laser beam in conversations. Make big requests of others and make big promises to hold yourself to account.
Tolerate nothing. Humans beings can tolerate incredible amounts of discomfort, pressure and delayed gratification. Whilst a ‘textured life’ may contain by necessity pressure, stress and discomfort – that is no justification for putting up with or tolerating the squandering of time.
Self Delusion. How often do we sell ourselves the ‘Sprat to catch the Mackeral’ line? “I’ll put up with this boss who’s always wasting my time – because some day he’ll ensure I get that promotion…”
The Scientific Approach? I’ve been carrying out an experiment in my dads retirement home. Asking the wise folks what they’d do differently if they had their time all over again. The consistent (predicable?) messages…
‘Don’t waste time on people and things that don’t give you joy, laugh more, don’t take things so seriously. Drink Whiskey everyday’. ‘ Run fast whenever you can – you’ll soon be 98 like me!’ (good old Jeff – what an inspiration).
Don’t have time? ‘We have all the time in the world’. Louis Armstrong