True story. Lately I have been finding myself cutting down on the massive amounts of coffee I love to drink, not for health reasons or to cut back on caffeine, but due to time management issues. These days, I often go from one conference call to another, then head from one meeting to another, and I barely have time to pee.
It seems every morning I wake up to face a list of 20 things to do, with time only to do 10, and somehow I always wind up squooshing in 30.
My life often reminds me of the society in Ray Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451, where you must drive over 55 mph so you cannot see the world around you clearly. In this blurry, fast-paced world, porches have been banned, so you don’t have a place to sit and feel what you may sit and feel. And books have been burned, so you cannot be inspired to think deeply.
Unfortunately, I barely have time to sit, feel and think deeply. I know, I know, I need to get better at time management, balance, relaxation and just plain old sitting — especially since I’m a best-selling author of books about happiness. Plus, to reveal an unknown factoid about myself: I’m also the person who invented the word “multitasking.” Yup, that was me. (If only I’d thrown a little TM on my invention, I’d be a very rich woman today!) (And – yes – I am very much joking!)
Our world has truly sped up since “multi-tasking” hit the scene, along with supposed time-saving inventions like the Internet, cell phones and BlackBerrys, oh my! Highly ironic, huh? These time-saving devices have become our time-gobbling devices instead.
In The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, author Sogyal Rinpoche writes about the human tendency to be in denial about death, thereby not living our most fulfilling lives. He warns not to become “unconscious living corpses.” Meaning? If you’re not careful, you can sleepwalk through our time here on this planet, causing you to avoid feeling your deepest feelings and risk going after your truest desires by busying your days with total nonsense.
Rinpoche describes a Western tendency of “active laziness”: the need to compulsively cram your life with a myriad of unimportant activities, leaving little time to confront what really matters. He jokingly renames the petty projects called “responsibilities” as “irresponsiblities.”
What Rinpoche describes is reminiscent of what author Milan Kundera philosophized about in his book Slowness, a slender volume I ironically sped through in a night. Kundera explains how we live in a highly sped-up culture, and that our need for speed promotes forgetting. For example: If you want to forget something, you will pick up speed walking down the street. If you want to remember something, you’ll slow down your steps.
With this in mind, Kundera warns how speeding up your life not only keeps you from remembering daily details like “Oops! Forgot to pick up more milk,” but also keeps you forgetful about overall life values and how to live your most enjoyable, passion-filled life.
Meaning? The next time you find yourself racing quickly down the street, know that you’re not only running to your next appointment, you are literally running from contact with your truest feelings, needs and insights.
I know right now there are some very smart inventors out there trying to create more fancy-shmancy devices to save you more time, like “time-saving” resources on the Internet and “time-saving” doohickeys for cell phones and BlackBerrys. But you don’t need any more time-saving devices that quickly morph into schedule-clogging, mind-clogging and feeling-clogging devices.
Instead we need more “time-savoring devices” which help us slow down, sit still and become more mindful of who we are and what we value for a fulfilling, happy life.
WITH THIS IN MIND, HERE ARE MY 5 TOP TIME SAVORING DEVICES – TO SAVE YOU PRECIOUS TIME!
1. Shrink your negativity into “nuggetivity.”
Only allow yourself to think negative thoughts for three minutes, three times a day. Not only will you save many hours wasted on negative thinking and whining, you’ll also find when you stop spending energy on worry, fear and complaining, you’re better able to stay positively focused on finding solutions and more likely to attract positive results. The main reason why hindsight comes with 20/20 vision is that when everything is done, you’re no longer distracted by negative, fearful emotions. Removing this emotional static is like getting cable hookup. Not only is the picture of your life clearer, you have more viewing options. The more perspectives you have, the better a shot you have at finding the right path to getting what you want and locating your misplaced miracle.
2.Make a “what matters most” to-do list.
Edit down your to-do list to a “what matters most” to-do list by tapping into The Pareto Principle, an 80/20 rule which says 20 percent of your habits and effort leads to 80 percent of results and enjoyment.
Every time you look at your to-do list of responsibilities, ask yourself which ones are your 80 percent “irresponsibilities.” Then, take some time to write out your “Top 10 What Matters Most” list, and keep this in your wallet to look at regularly. This list could include: spend more time with loved ones, do signature strengths, speak truthfully and give generously. (A hint for where to edit your 80 percent factor: According to a 2007 study, the average person spent two and a half to four hours a day watching TV – the equivalent of a part time job. Yikes!)
3. Stop wasting time wanting what others have.
Psychologist Dan Gilbert calls this poisonous envy “stepping on the Hedonic Treadmill,” where you’re always looking at what others have, seeking more and more, spinning your wheels and getting no life satisfaction. The grass is always greener on the other side until you get there and see it’s AstroTurf. Symbols are never reality. Someone might have amassed material success and fame, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy. So, don’t go judging a person’s life by the cover. You can always save a lot of time in your day by making sure you’re staying on your true path.
4. Stop shopping, shopping, shopping. Instead simplify, simplify, simplify!
Not only will shopping less save you time and money, it will create a positive ripple effect throughout your life. You’ll soon find that you’re more discerning about what you allow into your life in other areas, like choosing better foods and relationships. Plus that age-old expression “money doesn’t buy you happiness” has been backed up by modern research. Gilovich and Leaf Van Boven of the University of Colorado reported that students became much happier after taking vacations with friends, more than after purchasing material possessions. Their reasoning? Whereas objects fade in appreciation, experiences improve appreciation because people tend to embellish and remember experiences better than they were.
5. Have a good support system.
Go on a no-nuts diet. Stop spending time with nutty people who drain you of energy and distract you from living at your highest potential.