Our time is the the only resource that we all have the same amount of. Sure, some of us may live longer, but each year, day, hour, or minute is a fixed commodity. If we spend time worrying, we lose time enjoying. Time at work is not time at home. Balancing the great gift of time seems to be the secret, yet for most of us the balance may never be exactly right. So, how can we make sure that we have enough jelly beans left in our lives to enjoy ourselves and accomplish everything we want to?
One of the best ways to find this balance is to let go of perfection in its most traditional sense. When we strive to get everything done perfectly, we often give up enjoying the process in favor of the end result. We set goals and forget to celebrate the steps toward the goal. We wait until tomorrow to go after our dreams, to travel, to change something...we go after the perfect time, the perfect set of circumstances, the perfect scenario. Here is what I know for sure...there is NO PERFECT TIME. Why? Because the only time we all have is the time we are experiencing right now. The perfect time is an illusion that becomes the PERFECT EXCUSE for thinking about things, and not acting on them. In other words, what can we do today with the 24 hour cycle we are currently in, to accomplish what we most love?
We know what we know, but we don't know what we don't know.
So, we often spend our time with that which we are most familiar, the sure bet, the safe thing. Change requires exploration and action. It requires us to use our time for that which propels us forward, time for the unknown, time to go after a dream, time to be a little imperfect. The question we most need to answer is the following.
Are we in the business of running our lives or living our lives?
Managing our to-do list is managing our lives, but there is a fine line between managing and actually living and enjoying. There needs to be a combination of both elements in order to optimize our life spans. The 3 tips outlined below are all actionable ways to be mindful of both running and living life.
The Perfect Moment is NOW!
When we feel that we have too many tasks to complete, too many priorities, this often results in a state of overwhelm. Then, instead of digging in and getting things done, it is commonplace to procrastinate or waste our time. We rationalize that we only have 1 hour before a meeting, or 15 minutes before we have to leave the house, or 45 minutes while we are waiting to pick up a child. Not enough time to get anything important done...so we turn to Facebook, or watch TV, or do something mindless to fill these random minutes. This often leaves us feeling like we wasted our time. We lose energy and momentum because we feel ineffective.
Next time that you have those random few minutes before, between, or after something on your schedule, do as I do and ask yourself this question.
"What can I do right now, what can I accomplish and complete in the time I do have?"
The simple act of refocusing your mindset will allow you to make productive use of the time you have instead of waiting for "enough time" or the "perfect time." It is a subtle shift in thinking, but life altering, because each small accomplishment is energizing AND you help to eliminate some of those all too consuming time zappers that invade our daily schedules.
The Future Should Not Overshadow The Present!
Living the day we are currently in becomes very difficult when we are concentrating on multi-tasking and absorbed in to-do lists. To live our lives to the fullest, we need to challenge ourselves each and every day to optimize our time so that the things that we most love to do are not simply a dream for tomorrow, but a part of today.
Life does not play out in a straight line. We seldom know where the next twist and turn will take us. When we focus all of our energy on future endeavors and little on the present, we often stop just short of seeing results, sometimes due to fear, and often due to our individual journeys and circumstances. We miss the present moment working so hard for all of the future moments. The key is to have that vision for tomorrow, but to be aware of the many steps that get us there, the steps that are happening right now...the achievements and sweetness in our today.
We all have times of day or even days of the week that we are most productive. For some, mornings are the optimum time to get work done. For others, evening is the time they have the most energy and longest attention span. Some of us need to take breaks more frequently in our day, some a nap, yet others have to be in bed by a certain time to be most alert the next day. Being in touch with our personal rhythms affords us the opportunity to maximize our productivity and the individual flow in our days.
In order to make the best use of our time, we need to turn inward and know ourselves. True balance in all aspects of life is only able to be achieved when we are honest with ourselves. We are all wired differently. Trying to get your best work done in the morning if you are a night owl is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. You keep trying, but it never quite fits. Maximizing our time circles back to clarifying what works. What works for me, may not work for you. Our best times, those that fulfill us the most, are personal for each of us and linked to our own individual clocks...and possibly our own pile of jelly beans!
ZeFrank asks us,"How do you want to spend the time you have?" I think it's personal, and that is the defining point. There is no one right answer, no "perfect"way. Our relationship to time is directly linked to our relationship with life. If our relationship to time is stressed, our relationship to life is stressed. Time can set us free or lock us down. Freedom of choice is the greatest freedom of all.