Be Here NowWritten by Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE
When we are young, we feel that time is on our side. Not any more.
Our days are a blur of perceived demands from workplaces stretched beyond leading edge to bleeding edge, from technology that allows others to locate us even in privacy of our cars and bathrooms, from children and aging parents who name us and claim us, and from our inability to find options for creating mind sets and actions that can give us a modicum of breathing space and control.
We can all sing chorus: “There’s too much to do and too little time.” We have created a commodity worth of Stock Exchange: Time. We spend it, lose it, waste it, and manage it. We’re told to make time, use time, take time and, if we’ve had a run-in with law, we might even “do” time.
Time is great equalizer, given in singular 24-hour chunks by rising of sun and setting of moon. No money can buy it, no power can hold it, no army can stop it. We need to concentrate on winning back our life -- snatching it away from blur of to-do lists, technology, and work/life pressures.
The more I ponder time demands, I realize four truths:
Truth 1: Simplicity isn’t simple. It’s an admirable, essential goal that most of us are working on. Simplicity takes time and requires an agreement from all those impacted by its requirements. We’ve been given day-to-day wisdom to follow in realizing already-present abundance without adding to our closet, our bank account, our larder.
Truth 2: The technology genie will not go back into bottle. Once released, our challenge becomes to wisely choose when we access technology’s power. The seductiveness of thinking we are so important that people must find us any time, any place, for any matter is ego at its worst. Consider my experience with a man who brought his computer and cellular phone along on a four-day cruise. He was not present. He missed experience. And, I think, he lost.
Truth 3: Time management creates order and structure. It does not create present moment awareness. I’m not concerned with “managing time” as much as I am for discovering how to make better choices for what we put in these blocks called “time.” This is not about finding latest time-saving devices. We all have a plethora of these. Too often, they’ve become excuses for letting us cram our life with longer to-do lists. We end up working harder and longer. What I want to have us consider is taking control, finding personal empowerment in our work, lives, lifestyles, and relationships. It’s about finding more life in our years and more years in our life. We do not have extra time, but we do have discretionary energy and creativity. And we can learn to be present in moment.
Getting In ControlWritten by Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE
In a world where “too much to do and too little time” is a common mantra, there’s a sense that everyone and everything has more control over our day than we do. While we might be at beck and call of clients, there are still areas where culprit is none other than ourselves.
Using word “control” as an acronym, let me suggest ways in which we can begin to gain some relief from self-induced pressure.
(C)an clutter. Do you walk into your office and instantly feel a sense that you could get buried in all that mess? Papers are piled on desk, on floor, and in tiered boxes. Note that if this is your natural style of organization, you’d feel pressure by having items out of sight! But if you’re like a great majority of people, clutter only adds to time spent in finding what you need. Do you use everything that you have on display? Can you find items when you need them? If you’ve answered “no,” proceed to next recommendation.
(O)ut with excess paper. Examine what surrounds you. What can you throw out, give out, leave out? If you are months behind in journals and other publications, scan table of contents and keep only those items that you KNOW you’ll need. Throw rest away.
(N)o, not, never, not now. Say it. Practice it. We frequently nod our heads “yes” like a wind-up toy because of guilt, fear, or a sense that obligation. Ask yourself, why do you say “yes”. Perhaps even a “not now” would suffice. I am convinced that if we do not put limits on our time, it will vanish with our unknowing permission.
(T)alk up. To curtail long conversations or meeting, learn these sentences. “I would like to be able to talk with you but I have another engagement. Can you please tell me your request (situation, concern, etc.) in 25 words or less?” First, you won’t be lying with your opening statement. You will always have another engagement—even if it’s with report in your computer. Second, you have indicated a willingness to respond. You have merely put a concise cast to conversation. It’s amazing how “25 words or less” can increase speed and fluency of conversation. As a variation on this theme, you can also curtail a drawn-out conversation with this question: “How would you like this conversation to end?”