Is time managing me or do I manage it?

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Both Darwin and Lincoln celebrated their bicentennial birthdays this week Feb. 12, 1809! So I begin with quotes from the evolutionist and end with our 16th President.

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Charles Darwin

Time is the most elusive of things. Time is relentless, it just keeps going with no regard to what is happening or not happening. It is indifferent to the quality or quantity of our lives. It just marches on to infinity. Seems to me that we characterize father time in such unflattering ways. Time is not our friend, in fact often described as the enemy. We may think that time is not fair and that our shortcomings can be blamed on the clock. If only I had more time….I need more time, there is not enough time in a …….

The fact is we do not value time and treat it as a precious commodity. What if we spent time like it was a finite and valuable resource, instead of taking it for granted? Somehow many of us make this ridiculous leap in logic: Time is infinite, therefore my time is infinite. Huh?!!  

Try this exercise. Count the number of times you will do things you enjoy, cherish, and covet before you die. Yes, you have to assume your age at death. For example, how many more Christmases will I celebrate? How many weekends do I have left with my middle daughter Malia before she goes to college? How many more rounds of golf with my Dad? We just don't appreciate the time we have unless we come to grips with its limits and how to maximize the amount remaining.

Ten years ago I was interviewed by the LA Times (Download LAT article on time mgmt) to reveal my secret in time management. I said that I did not have any secrets, but that having 59 weeks a year helped and that comment triggered this article. After fighting resistance and time deficits for years, I made a commitment to wake up between 45 to 90 minutes earlier everyday. Do the math I gained at least an extra 7 working weeks a year! With kids, I could not stay up later, so I decided to reverse my nocturnal clock and use my extra time to pursue my outside interests and ideas. It forced me to be more disciplined and it has opened up so many new worlds for me. Time to write. Time to reconnect. Time to explore ideas. Time to network.

Three things we have to overcome to make the most of our time.

  • Got Goals?

 Without goals and a vision for the future, no matter how clear, life is either a death march or a unfulfilling hyperspace ride.

  • I am so busy, I don't have time for what I want to do!

Regardless how non-sensical this sounds, it is uttered to me every week. Being busy is the lamest excuse. We are all busy. What keeps you so busy? To paraphrase John Lennon, Life passes you by while you are busy.

I was in Manhattan giving a talk on Mentoring and Networking in a fancy conference room high above the city lights. After years of doing this you have to focus on people's faces to make sure you stay connected with the audience. Near the back I noticed a tall attractive woman dressed in a full Armani/Prada uniform. She was clearly not enjoying herself and shook her head in disgust every time I looked her way. I had to avoid looking her direction to minimize her negative vibes. I finished my session unscathed and was answering a few stragglers questions. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the designer girl critic making her way to the front armed with her scary Italian stiletto heels. I pretended not to see her as she moved into my little huddle. "I have a question for you", she barked out without regard for the conversation that was taking place. The others looked at her with a combination of sneers and disbelief. "Okay," I said sheepishly acknowledging her. She continued without missing a beat, "This networking and mentoring stuff takes time. And I have little time, I work for Towers Perrin as an international consultant and I am traveling around the world saving companies." She was like some kind of designer super hero. 😉 I looked at her and took the offensive and said, "You must be single." "What does that have to do with anything?", she snapped. "Because you don't have time to be with anyone, yet you want that if you could find the right guy, am I right?" She reluctantly admitted I was. I went on. I held up a closed fist and said that I had the name of the perfect guy for her in my hand. "Would you make time for him?" Ms. Armani melted into normality, smiled for the first time, and confessed to all of us, that she would make time for that! A goal and a vision can do wonders even for wonder woman. 🙂

  • Irresistible Resistance.

Like gravity, our internal inclination is to procrastinate our inner goals and to seek immediate and simpler gratifications. How important are these dreams and ideas you have? How much would you regret if you did not pursue these things? Read Steven Pressfield's War of Art Here are a couple excerpts:

Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn't write, a painter who doesn't paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don't just put off our lives today; we put off our lives till our deathbed.

I have learned that time management starts with not letting time manage you. Managing time around what you want. Reminding yourself that time is special and to try and make the most of it by setting goals. Usually, the time to stop procrastinating is NOW!

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.  Abraham Lincoln

Thanks for the time and for reading. John

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1 thought on “Is time managing me or do I manage it?”

  1. Loved this one and needed this one. Time seems to be on my mind much more as I get older. You are an inspiration being able to write these wonderful articles every week without fault even with your busy schedule. I will keep this and read it periodically hopefully making each moment count. Thanks John for your time and your passion.

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