Life Management Not Time Management
“It is true that the most precious resource we all have is time”. – Steve Jobs
No one can manage time, though many say that they manage it. We can not buy time or save time. We can not find the time or lose time. Time is not money, but money certainly is time. Time does not fly, nor does time stand still. Time is, in effect, uncontrollable and unmanageable. Time just is. It marches on at its own pace, always the same, never faster or slower. Just like the meter in a taxi cab ticks away, so does time on a clock. It is completely independent of what we do or how we live our lives. Time is the most precious nonrenewable resource we have
Sure we try to manage it. We have measuring tools like watches, calendars, and day planners. Many of us live our professional and personal lives as if we somehow had a certain control over the passing of time. But the reality is that each person has an exact 24 hours each day and not more. Once that time has passed, the new 24 hour period begins regardless of what we do or have done with it.
“Time is the most valuable coin in your life and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you”. – Carle Sandburg
Most people spend much of their allotted time doing those things which they least enjoy. We spend time trying to meet the expectations of others, chasing their goals and dreams rather than our own. We spend a lot of time trying to control time, trying to organize it and keep up with it, but what we are really doing is trying to fit our activities into the box called time. We can not manage time or control it, but we can, instead, manage ourselves. This we do have control over. We can choose how we use the time that we have and whom we will give it to. We can make conscientious decisions to get the best use out of our time. Remember: your time does not belong to anyone else by you.
The dash is the amount of time that transpires between the moment we are born and the moment we pass away. That is the open box of time that we have to live and to make a difference around us. What do we want to spend this time that we have? It is said that time is money, but in reality, money is time. We don’t pay for things with money; we pay for things with our time. We spend our time working X number of hours and days in order to pay for what we are saving up for or to pay the monthly interest on deferred payment. We tell ourselves that once we have paid off everything then we can relax. These large ticket items we have worked long to pay for may have cost us several years of our life.
Don’t Squander Time
Two ways we squander our time are:
Doing what everyone else wants or expects us to do
Focusing on the unimportant details in life
We need to be careful not to allow other people to decide what we will do with our time. Many times we do this by not allowing ourselves to say no. We assume that we will be disappointing people or somehow letting them down if we do not agree to give our time. When we allow others to dictate how we spend our time we open ourselves up to overextending ourselves, stress as well as having less time to give to what is important to us. What we need to do is not manage our time, but manage ourselves by setting limits on what we allow or not allow.
A second way we squander time is by having no focus at all, by paying attention to each new thing that comes up and treating it as important, whether or not it is actually important. We also squander our time on activities that do not bring us or anyone any value. We can get very busy doing absolutely nothing and think we are accomplishing something. Busyness does not equal value. Since we only have a certain amount of time on earth, isn’t it better to send on what we value?
Living for the Weekend
Our world is structured to highlight the 5-day work week as the standard. We also highlight the weekend as a time to unwind from the busy (and often stressful) work and school week. The weekend is highly anticipated and Monday morning is equally dreaded. This brings me to the parable of the marbles as described in Leadership Gold, by John Maxwell.
Essentially, the story goes that a man decided to measure his life in marbles. He did the math. The average person lives to be about 75 years (give or take). He multiplied 75 by 52 to get the number of weekends a person would have in his life and came up with the number 3,900. So the average person will have 3,900 weekends in his or her lifetime. Then he purchased 1,000 marbles (he was 55 at the time) and put them inside a large jar. Each Saturday since that time he has taken out one marble to represent one weekend being used up. He found that doing this helped him to focus more on the important things of life. Essentially, it was a priority reset.
While I am quite most people are not up to doing this exercise (present company included), it does provide a very practical and sobering visual of the passage of time. Time is short, that is to say, the time we are given on earth is not as long as we think or would like. For some, the time is far shorter than they expected. Perhaps we could learn to enjoy the time we have rather than pointlessly trying to manage it. Perhaps we could be true to our values and less bent on trying t obe everything to everyone. No one can give us more time so we should simply use and value the time we have in the best way we can.
In the same book, Leadership Gold, the writer and naturalist is quoted:
I still find each day too short…
For all the thoughts I want to think,
For all the walks I want to take,
For all the books I want to read,
For all the friends I want to see.
A Quick Check List
Managing the complexities of life is not an easy thing to do. Here are a few points to remember to help you have more control over your own life so that you can be true to your values.
- Practice saying No
- Determine what your values are
- Set your priorities and protect your priorities
- Don’t get locked into others’ priorities
- Don’t stay glued to your day planner
- Remember that your time is your own to give or not to give
- Everything you pay for is paid through time
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca