Many time management seminars and productivity hacks, mobile applications, in-person trainings and coaching sessions, skirt around the core problem at the heart of modernity: There are only 24 hours in the day.
The problem is not that people have too many tasks in their adult lives (we do); the problem is not that people are constantly busy with priorities that don’t really matter to them (we are); the problem is not that people are stressed out, frazzled, feeling like they are browsing through life, and deeply emotionally and spiritually unhealthy (we are).
The problem is that most of what we read, absorb and try to put into practice focuses around moving around the priorities we don’t like, and trying to squeeze one more ounce out of the 24 hours we do have—so that we can do more things we don’t like.
All while telling ourselves the story (in this case, the lie) that “Well, if I just do THIS thing, I’ll have more time to do what I want to do.”
Really, the issue comes down to patience. In our American culture (and if you’re reading this another country, or from another cultural background, this statement may or may not apply to your experience) we value impatience, hurry, and idolize the cult of busyness, over many other areas.
We resent people who appear to have more time than they know what to do with. And we envy in our hearts people with wealth, who at least outwardly, appear to have no worries about time at all, and appear to have boundless energy.
Then, we read the articles on productivity, time management, wealth creation, the “1%” and on doing more with less, searching for assurances that we are right and “they” who appear to have more than us, are wrong.
But, what if we tried three other things rather than just moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic one more time?
- Say “no” more…and mean it—“no” to promotions that we don’t really need and that take more time from priorities we said were “non-negotiable,” “no” to obligations that come packaged as opportunities and “no” to productivity and time management “hacks” that don’t get at the core of what we really need. Which is the courage to say “no” in the first place.
- Eliminate hurry—don’t hurry. That’s it. Just slow down to a crawl. Take time to talk to people in front of us, rather than the people on Twitter (we are deeply guilty of this one, so we are are talking to ourselves here as well). Take time to drive in the slow lane for a month at the posted speed limit. Do the old things (like writing and reading) that require us to put aside the things that don’t matter (like work) and put in front of us the things that do matter (like self-improvement).
- Get active—55% of mobile phone users go online through their phones. Most of this is browsing, shopping and in general, watching what other people are doing. Television used to be the driver for passivity, but we now have a TV/computer/radio in our pocket all the time. But getting active in our own lives requires us to stop watching the escapades of people who are already active in their lives.
Difficulty in balancing seemingly competing demands is the first stop on the road to conflict. For many people, difficulties begin with the management of their perception of hurry, patience, stress, and other people. When we have the courage to ruthlessly eliminate hurry, stress is reduced and difficulties become manageable, rather than events that can derail an entire day with anger, stress, and impatience.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: email@example.com