No one has a lack of time. It’s all a matter of priorities.
“Nature does not hurry. Yet everything is accomplished.” -Lao Tzu
We are taught/propagandized/programmed (I-dare-not-say-brainwashed) to be in a hurry. I must remember to unhook myself from that feeling and "do less and achieve more" as my tai chi master taught me. It's more delightful really and life unfolds wonderfully well that way.
As Peace Pilgrim said:
"If your life is in harmony with your part in the Life Pattern, and if you are obedient to the laws which govern the universe, then your life is full and good and not overcrowded.
If it is overcrowded, you are doing more than is right for you to do, more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things."
For business folks, here are some useful tips for managing your schedule. Again, this is about managing ourselves, not time, which is unmanageable.
#1 Tip: Block out your to-do list on your calendar. This is critical: Allocate a specific amount of time to each task. So after you've finished putting together your list for the day and have ensured that the number of hours of workload corresponds to the number of hours available to you, fill up your calendar completely with all the time blocks you just created. Leave nothing out, including time for relaxing and eating.
Do this the night before so you are ready to hit the ground running when you start work. Your subconscious mind will also have a chance to work on the next day’s challenges overnight. This one tip will go a long, long way to creating more ease in your life.
Schedule the most important things first. Not emails, not Facebook, not returning phone calls. This harks back to Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. As Covey points out, it is easy to be sucked into someone else’s urgency. Just because it is urgent and possibly important to someone else, does not mean it is either urgent or important to you. Keep your own counsel and determine your priorities when scheduling.
Remember, no one has a lack of time. It is all a matter of priorities.
Regarding “the most important thing:” if you have a particularly thorny issue, possibly emotion-laden, some advise doing it first. Do the hardest thing first every day. This has many benefits. Once done, it no longer takes up space on your “hard drive.” No longer is it sitting in the background creating low level anxiety, muscular tension and worry. It’s done!
Another benefit, every time we tackle a hard challenge, we increase our level of self esteem. We build our “tackling challenges” muscle. We build a skill at handling more and more difficult problems. This is a good thing because, as we may have between the lines in the “Myth of Retirement” series of tips/articles, we are meant to work harder and harder as we grow older. We are meant to put our experience, skills and wisdom to good use, not to let them wither on the vine in the mistaken myth of “taking it easy” in our later years.
This is all tempered by the philosophy and practice of “Do less, achieve more.” What this looks like in practice is “not pushing the river.” Many writers and speakers tell us to push hard to achieve our goals. “Do less, achieve more” is more about what covey calls the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency is about getting the ladder up quickly and hurrying to paint the side of the house. Effectiveness is about ensuring you have the ladder against the right wall! “Haste makes waste” is a good saying to remind ourselves of whenever we feel like rushing to get something done.
# 2 Tip: Focus on one thing. That means habits, activities, people, the whole gamut. If it does not help in reaching the goal of the one thing that is of foremost importance for you, let it go. Easier said than done. Perhaps that is why so many struggle as they try to multi-task and be all things to all people. Do NOT multi-task, unless perhaps you are reviewing something while on hold.
#3 Tip: e-mail twice a day is plenty. Once is better. Same for Facebook and other social media. If you need to be in front of social media eyes, buy a program like Hootsuite that will post a message for you every hour.
#4 Tip: Group similar tasks in the same time slots. Phone calls, for example, can be made all at the same time, during a half-hour or hour time period marked on your calendar. It is easier to keep your focus when doing similar tasks together. It is easy to lose your focus if you flip among many types of tasks.
#5 Tip: Write brief memos. Keep them to one page.
# 6 Tip: Keep meetings to a minimum. Limit meeting length with the easy and simple method of having everyone stand during the meeting. Schedule a time limit for each topic.
# 7 Tip: Block your phone calls. Don’t take calls. Return calls in your phone call block that you put in your schedule. For many calls, you can schedule your calls using email. This gets you out of “phone tag hell.”
While these ideas are for business folk, can you see how to use the same principles for personal life?
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