Over the years, I’ve developed an efficient system for managing myself and my time. It has always worked well for me, but after a recent makeover of sorts, it’s even better. In fact, it has become less like a system and more like a way of life.
It started with a book I read called The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks. The book was mostly about things I already knew, until I got to the chapter about relativity and controlling time, rather than letting it control you. I kept hoping Hendricks would scientifically describe how to control time, but he didn’t, because of course we can’t control time. We can, however, control our experience of time.
Generally, time seems to speed up when we want it to slow down (e.g., when we’re in a rush), and it seems to drag like molasses when we want it to pass quickly. The standout word here is “seems,” because therein lies the key to experiencing time. Or one of the keys, at least. The concept is difficult to explain in a blog post, but here’s the gist:
- Keep simplifying your life until you’re doing more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t, and until you have more of what you love and less of what you don’t. Lots less. Clutter can sneak into your life in many forms—not just as things. If something has been on your to-do list for ages, ask yourself if you really want and/or need to do it. In my case, I retired a novel I had been procrastinating on, and instead of feeling like I had given up, I felt relieved.
- Keep structuring your days until you’re doing more of what you want (or truly need) to do. If “take up painting again” keeps getting shoved aside for housework, it’s time to hire a housekeeper or get a smaller house. (Unless maybe you don’t really want to paint again, eh?) Just like with a budget, when you track where your time goes, you see where your problem areas are.
- Large, overwhelming projects can be tackled by breaking them down into steps and working on them a little each day.
- With everything you do, get into the habit of asking yourself if it’s an efficient use of your time. Is it adding value to your life, or are you not even sure why you’re doing it? This goes for big things too, like jobs and relationships. It’s your time, and your life.
- A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (book)
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (book and methodology)
- Unclutterer and Zen Habits (blogs)
- Mind Tools (website)