Time is a funny thing isn’t it? Years can pass so quickly, with just the changing height of children and fading of paint to remind us that it has indeed slipped by. Then again, we can have a few days away and feel like we’ve had a two week holiday. The time we enjoy is perhaps measured by the framework we create for it. If we know we have but a few days to make the most of something, that’s usually what we do – make the most of that time. If we feel we have a life time ahead, we think we have years…Technically of course we do have years, but as those years tick by, we come to see that those years are indeed precious and we should probably make more of them.
“Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” William Faulkner
I’m sure we’ve all had that those occasions when we’ve been so busy, time has just flown by and we find ourselves scratching our heads at the end of the day wondering where those hours went. Perhaps we achieved a lot, perhaps we were busy doing a lot less than what we set out to do. It’s all relative I guess. In the distant past, we had but the sun and our internal body rhythms to tune in to, which helped establish our day to day routines, and then the moon punctuated the monthly cycles and I suppose in temperate climates seasons went some way to creating annual rhythms. Now, of course, we live and work in a 24-hour society, and the demands on most people’s lives can be just that – demanding.
So, how do we fit it all in? I mean, how do we get things done when there simply doesn’t seem to be enough time. I think the short answer here is to make time. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re busy. “The less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in.“ – Lord Chesterfield. And you know that if you really want to do something, you somehow find that time. Like just before you go on holiday – isn’t it funny how you manage to get through that last bit of work and pack and sort out the house…
There are a million websites, courses, books and other references out there to help all you procrastinators and time-wasters so I’m not looking to provide the all-encompassing and definitive list on how to make the most of time, but here are some tips to get you started.
Manage your distractions:
Things like the TV or your social networking are prime examples of those distractions that can just suck you in and before you know it, hours have passed you by. So think before you switch on. Is there a specific program you want to see? Then just make time for that one. What are you trying to achieve with your social networking – just catching up and browsing, or is there something specific you need to communicate? Think about setting a time limit of say half an hour (and I don’t mean half an hour every hour).
Now I appreciate some people just don’t get on with the idea of planning ahead because they think it somehow crushes opportunities for ‘going with the flow’. But I love the idea of planning for spontaneity; making room for that freedom. And by planning ahead – even if it’s in short time frames, you help create movement towards even the smallest of goals, whilst keeping some space in your life for those random opportunities. I find it quite helpful to think about what I want to achieve for the week ahead, and then by either writing down or thinking through the day before on the tasks I want to get done before I finish my day, I have a focus for the next 24 hours.
Grains of sand:
A coach once suggested to me that I could look at my goals or tasks as rocks and pebbles. So let’s say my week is in the shape of a glass vase. I have say 7 core things I need to achieve – those would be the rocks in my vase. Then the tasks and actions required to achieve those goals might be the pebbles that fit between those rocks. What I’m left with are lots of pockets of air, and in those pockets of time, I have the opportunity to fill them with smaller, mini tasks – my sand. Like making an appointment, or calling a friend, or writing out a birthday card.
Managing the paperwork:
When something comes through the post, deal with it straight away. Even if that means to simply file it in the in-tray. If it’s a bill, deal with it – don’t wait until the last minute. Create little systems that work for you and get a shredder. My husband will laugh when he reads this paragraph because in his eyes, I hoard too much paper. He works with computers and avoids printing just about everything. His desk is clear, mine has files and piles. But they are organised piles, and that’s what’s important. And of course have a good clear-out every few months.
Make the most of your gadgets:
You’ve invested in your laptop, smart phone, smart TV…use them. Use the diaries, reminders, task managers. Create time in your calendar – not just for appointments, but for writing up proposals, blogs, projects…make the time.
Pick a spot
Well, not literally. What I mean is find a place in your space for things like keys, where you put your bag, sat nav and so on. And get in to the habit of using it. That way you’re not wasting time looking for things.
Time is such a precious gift; we really need to make the most of it. I leave you with a few thoughts.
“Realize that now, in this moment of time, you are creating. You are creating your next moment. That is what’s real.” Sara Paddison
“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson