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. Our world has truly sped up since supposedly 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 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.
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 our lives not only keeps us from remembering daily details like “Oops! Forgot to pick up more milk,” but also keeps us forgetful about overall life values and how to live our 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 some very smart inventors are trying to create more fancy-shmancy devices to save us more time, like “time-saving” doohickeys for cell phones and BlackBerrys. But we 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 what are the most important things on our TO DO LIST to actually do – so we don’t fall victim to “active laziness.”
WITH THIS IN MIND, HERE ARE MY 5 TIME SAVING TOOLS I USE DAILY – WHICH ALSO DOUBLE-UP AS MY TIME SAVORING TOOLS!
1.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 not-so-important time-clutterers. 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 and do your “signature strengths.” (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!) If you’re unclear where all your time is going, start keeping an hourly time journal. The way some people keep track of what they eat in a day, keep track of how you gobble up time in a day.
2. 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. And if you follow what you see someone else doing, it doesn’t mean you’ll be happy either. You must follow your soul’s yearnings! Lesson learned? You can always save a lot of time in your day by making sure you’re doing what you need to do to stay on your true path.
3. Stop shopping, shopping, shopping. Instead simplify, simplify, simplify!
Own less. Be More. 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.
4. Shrink 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.
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.