Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Making Time for Bliss

So a few weeks ago, I promised I would talk about how time management can help you on your journey to a better life.

Some things should be obvious about why this is: Planning your time means less wasted time, and that alone can multiply your opportunities to do the things you really care about.

There's also the idea that when you make a plan, you're also writing down your goals, though you may be doing it step by tiny step. So you want to write a book? You carve out 30 minutes each day to get some of that writing done. Your daily plan doesn't say "Write a Book," but it does say "Write."

There's something else I want to address while we're on the topic of time. There is a strong impulse for us to say, "Once I figure out what I want, then I'll move forward on writing that book." (Or getting married, or having a baby, or moving to Spain or starting your business or what have you.)

There's a strong temptation to want to break time up this way. IF I achieve X, THEN I can proceed with Y.

While it seems logical enough, there's something desperately wrong with this equation. Unfortunately, our lifespans just aren't long enough for us to operate this way. We will die long before we achieve all the things we want to do, and if we follow the formula above, we will have put life--the very act of living and participating in this world--on hold. There will always be something we could figure out or achieve or complete before we can do X, Y, Z.

If we operate in this way, we may achieve a few goals, sure. But we will live our lives out of balance. We will reach middle age and the end of our lives filled with regret.

What's the solution? Time management. Why? Because it teaches us to balance all our needs and wants and desires into each day. It forces us to prioritize, and make the hard choices that we need to make. It essentially makes each day a microcosm of the universe that is our life: very full, but in equilibrium.

So you want to start your business? Put 30 minutes somewhere in your day where you work on your business plan. So you want to read War and Peace? Make time to read for 15 minutes each day. If your spouse or your child or your exploding water heater screw up your plans, at least you had one. You can always reschedule something for tomorrow, but if you have no plan, you have no idea what you're supposed to be doing, especially with so many demands on our focus and attention.

A practical note: I like Google Calendar for planning. It is easy to use, I can share events w/ whomever I choose, and I can print out daily agendas. I can also import public calendars, like I did with the American Public Holidays calendar, so I'm never caught off guard about what day a holiday falls on. There are many good calendars out there, this is just the one I use and like best.

But if you're serious about getting your time under your control, set up a calendar today. I promise it'll be time well spent.

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