The phrase, ‘time management’ can really make my skin crawl. Partly because it’s such a buzzkill of a thing to learn but it’s also a confusing topic that has so many tips, tricks and hacks, that the information out there has become difficult to navigate, watered down, sometimes boring and at others, just plain ineffective in motivating me or anyone to improve.
But I do love the concept of time. I’m fascinated by it, actually. Focusing on a certain age group for my life coaching has forced me to really analyze time in so many new ways.
Thirtysomeones especially are quite prone to bringing up the topic in coaching sessions, whether it’s about not having enough hours in the day to do the things we have to do, let alone the things we’d love to do – or having enough youth to try all the things life can offer. Honestly, I think thirtysomeones are obsessed with time. Yours truly included.
In case you haven’t noticed, a lot of productive adulting requires superb time management. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion out there about what goes into managing your time effectively. And, most of the advice is pretty dry and is filled with setting alarms on our phones and concentrating on getting in, “Just 10 Minutes A Day” for our dream projects.
Some of these tools are great and I do believe that some of us need to set those alarms and some of us really do need to see things as just taking 10 minutes a day consistently. BUT – I also see a much bigger underlying issue plaguing all of us in the adult world.
Our relationship to and with Time, capital ’T’, is broken and until we heal it, there’s no use in trying to make it work for us.
Think of your relationship with anything or anyone. If you abused that person or the fundamentals in that relationship over and over again, do you think they’d want to do you a favour? Do you think they’d even stick around?
And our relationship with Time is no different.
So how are we abusing Time? Take a look at a few tell tale signs your relationship with Time needs attention. If you’re known for doing any of these consistently, there’s, let’s say, room for growth.
Constantly complaining about not having enough time.
We all do it sometimes, but some of us more than others. When your partner or friend asks you what your day will look like or how it was, do you stand there and create an aggravated list on all ten fingers and toes? Do you sigh with exhaustion at the question?
Furthermore, let me ask you: When someone asks how you are, is your answer always something like, “Busy, busy!” or “Hangin’ in there.”? Or do you take it as an opportunity to let this person acknowledge you in the present moment and realize that the only acceptable answer is, “Great, thank you. How are you?”
I know that you may not be “Great” or “Fine,” but that’t not the point. In that moment, someone has bothered to acknowledge you. And if you’re alive and kickin’ to experience that, then, yes, you are “Fine.”
And as far as not having enough time, I get it. We’re all busy. But we all have the same amount of hours in our day and the choices we make are our own. If you feel like you can’t get it all in or done, you’ve got to sacrifice some busy time for some real introspection and some things just may not make the true priorities list and they’ll have to be cut or at least benched for a while.
But you do have to make some choices. Complaining about it doesn’t do anything except reassure yourself that there’s never enough. If you believe it, you’ll attract more proof of what you believe.
So why not..
Believe that everything has its moment and some things can be left for another day.
Believe that you are doing your best.
Believe that you are supported by the perfection of the Universe and that means that everything happens in perfect timing when it’s meant to be.
Being consistently late.
You know who you are. You know it’s a problem but you just can’t seem to fix it. You try to leave early and something always happens. The advice out there says to leave 15 minutes earlier than you thought you should, respect other people’s time, set your watch ahead. Sure these are all great tools, but what’s the real issue?
Are you spending more time on getting ready to go out than you should? Are you procrastinating because you have social anxiety? Do you genuinely loose track of time? How does this happen? What are the triggers? (HINT: Social media is often a huge distractor nowadays).
Figuring out what distracts you from keeping your commitments is one of the first steps in practicing avoiding these triggers and eventually being able to focus on the task at hand which is to get out the door!
Plus, recognizing that you’re late and trying to remedy it shows that you know that time is valuable. Show Time that you acknowledge this by respecting the Time of the person or people you’re meeting with.
This also got for answering texts and phone calls. Respond promptly (doesn’t have to be immediately). This is all practice and repetition that will train you to be more punctual and you’ll begin to get a reputation as a professional and a great person to work with and be friends with.
Only focusing on the past or future. We go through good times and bad – that’s life. That’s how we grow over time. So to say to Time, “Oh, I’m only looking forward to the good stuff, can we skip over this hard part?” or, “I’m so focused on when that happened that I’m not going to move forward,” is a slap right in Time’s face.
Time wants to be a great teacher for you. But you have to be open to listening to the teachings of the present. But as I’ve mentioned before, it’s not so easy to live in the moment or ‘be present’.
Here are my top tricks
- A few times a day, when you’re bored or drifting off into a daydream maybe, notice how your tongue is on the roof of your mouth. And then let it fall and relax. It will eventually make its way back, but for that one moment, you’re only focused on what your tongue is doing in the now.
- Take a moment to love. Kiss your partner, your kids, your dog. Hug a friend. Ask someone about their day. You may do all of these things anyway, but notice these things a little more for how beautiful they are and how they have nothing to do with the past or future – just the present moment.
These small steps can eventually lead you to see how Time wants to be there for you, not against you; how Time wants you to revere each moment you share together.
And above all, remember that Time heals.
It frickin’ heals us! Think about that for a minute. Time is one of the greatest healers of our pain. It gives us distance, perspective potentially the space to forgive. Time gives us a new day, a second chance – and sometimes third and fourth and fifth chances. If that’s not enough for you to give your full attention to creating a positive relationship then I don’t know what is.
So, yes, mark up your calendar, set your alarms, read a good book for 10 minutes. In other words, manage your time. But remember that it’s not just hours in a day. This is your life and the time you spend here is precious. Spend your time, like money, wisely. Respect yours and others’ time and you’ll see more of it come to you. You’ll start to see gaps for silence and rest open up to you.
And remember, Time is on your side…or, at least, it can be.
I truly love this topic and I could go on and on but I won’t. Not here.
But if you’d like to continue the conversation with me, leave a comment on the Facebook page or get in touch to work together on healing your relationship with Time. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out more of what I do at ashewoodward.com.
And remember to grab your FREE guide to adulting in The Thirtysomething’s Guide to Successful Goalmaking HERE