The word ‘manage’ is from Latin, meaning ‘hands.’ Take your life in hand, carefully, consciously, so you really feel good about what you’re doing while you’re doing it.
Pamela Kristan’s held an engaging working lab friday morning for forty folks hungry to manage their time. She began exactly on time, with a lesson on managing attention. While we called out our own time management issues, people walking in late diverted our attention. She directed us to hit the ‘pause’ button – like a video recorder does. We froze the frame, scribbled down a word or took a picture in our heads of exactly where we paused. After the interruption, we hit the ‘play’ button and returned our attention precisely to where we left off.
Pam’s history of time management goes way back. “In the beginning, the world was without form – effectively ‘no time.’ Creator says ‘let’s have light and dark.’ Humans find there are things they can do in the light of day they can’t do at night: so time management is born. Prometheus offers a technological development – fire – that lets us do things when we couldn’t do before. As with any new technology, we have to be sure we don’t get burnt.”
Electronic information at our fingertips may be the biggest transition since the discovery of fire. “One issue of the daily NY Times equals the amount of information an 18th century person would get in a life time, and it’s debatable that we are any wiser.” So much data on so many ways to do the same things gives us more choices to make, and predisposes us to keep track of all of it.
“Get in your bones, deeply – it’s impossible! You cannot do it all. The whole deal on time management is: you have to consciously choose. And it needs to feel good.” Step back out of the flow, look back at what happened, and pull out what is important to you – because it is not all important.
The ABCs of time management:
Attention: “Our attention is like a springer spaniel on the beach. We need to ‘sit, stay.’ She offered a half-dozen techniques for developing a middle ground of focus.
Boundaries: We leave the office or fall into bed at night thinking about what’s left to do, not about what’s been done. Create a daily practice to acknowledge what has happened, feel it, let it resonate. This protects your time, and makes it ‘sacred space, sacred time.’
Choices: You have to get good at firmly saying no, and without the spike of anger. Shift your attention to what you are doing, rather than all the things you are not doing. In making choices, consider: (a) Stakeholders: family, students, friends, clients, employer, SELF. Prioritize the stakeholders, see where they are aligned or out of alignment. (b) Quality Levels. “Perfection is the enemy of production,” said Pam. A level of 85-90% is fine; 100% is the rare “bells & whistles” level. Underneath is the “quick & dirty” level: just get the basic things done. (c) The 80/20 rule. In any collection of items, 80% of significance is in 20% of the items in the collection. (Think about what you wear from your closet.) The same is true for your To Do list. Winnow your list by asking of each task, is it: Important? Urgent? Beneficial? Attractive to me?
Change happens by small steps taken consciously. You can create time to BE in a culture that promotes Doing … and have more time. The universe wants you to show up.
Pamela Kristan’s book, “Awakening in Time,” is available through her website www.pamelakristan.com
Blogger: Leslie Sullivan Sachs, project manager