Are you fighting with time? Or enjoying and honoring it? At work I often feel I’m racing against it or frustrated as I wish I had twice as much time to get everything done.
Now we in most of the world are back to standard time (and why can’t the US change when everyone else does?). On these days when the time changes an hour I am reminded that time is a fabrication, a concept.
And yet, it typically rules our lives. Since that’s the case, I’d advocate learning to enjoy time rather than fighting it. Curiously, I have also found the enjoying it makes me feel as if I have more time.
Quiz: Are You Fighting Time?
How many of the following statements are true for you?
- I dread the alarm clock ringing in the morning.
- I scramble to get to work on time.
- I feel cheated when I don’t get as much time at home as I’d like.
- I often start my workday feeling behind.
- Responding to email and chats typically sucks up the first part of each work day and drains my energy.
- I hate the fact that I’m often late for one meeting because I’m still in another meeting.
- To meet all my deadlines I have to slice time between tasks and that makes me feel fragmented.
- Distractions often keep me from completing my top priorities.
- I stop what I’m doing the moment someone contacts me for assistance.
- I resent working more than 40 hours a week to get my job done.
1-3: true: You are not fighting time, at least in these ways.
4-7: You are fighting time enough that it might help you to shift.
8-10: Time is beating you – and it’s time for you to change that.
As James Taylor sings,
“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time / Any fool can do it / There ain’t nothing to it…
Now the thing about time is that time / Isn’t really real / It’s just your point of view / How does it feel for you?…
Some kind of lovely ride / I’ll be sliding down / I’ll be gliding down / Try not to try too hard / It’s just a lovely ride / Isn’t it a lovely ride?”
The name of the song is “The Secret o Life.” It captures well what I mean by enjoying time rather than fighting it. Take advantage of it, and use in in ways that make you feel better, not worse. Relax into the time you have each day.
I started writing about this topic before remembering this song. Now I can see that he and I agree on something specific: It’s all about how it feels for you.
Tips and Tricks to Enjoy Work Time
OK, maybe enjoying time still does not seem easy or obvious to you. I know for a long time it was not for me. So here are some things that work for me. Maybe these will work for you, or inspire you to find things that do.
- Shift the feeling tone.
Notice in the quiz, each of those 10 items has a feeling word either in it or that you’d attach to it. Can you shift that feeling of dread for the alarm clock? Perhaps feel grateful for a new day? Or let go of feeling cheated or pressured or harassed or distracted? Maybe be curious about those feelings and whether they serve you or anyone else.
- Accept what’s true.
In all of these cases, if you can accept the reality as it is, some of those negative feelings will at least be replace with something more neutral. Don’t fight reality! It really can drain your energy.
- Schedule yourself wisely.
Put buffers of at least 5-10 minutes between your meetings and appointments. Cluster similar work together during the day. Realize that things are likely to take longer than planned. Schedule in “unknown task” time to deal with urgent matters that arise. (There are many time management articles. I like this one from Forbes.)
- Set boundaries.
Unless you are in a response-centric role, set aside blocks of time for e-mails and chats and let people know that you only respond every 2 hours, for example. Do not plan to check your phone or e-mail at other times. If you are in a managerial role, set up several blocks of time where people know they can reach you; let them know that at other times, you might not be available.
Prepare for the day: the evening before, write down your top 1-2 priorities to address. Ideally do those first. Prepare for meetings: set up the agenda – including expected time per topic – and send it out in advance, asking for feedback. Prepare for programs: always consider the stakeholders who are likely to throw up obstacles and include that – and possibly them – in your planning.
- Appreciate the positive.
Feeling gratitude and appreciation delivers physical, mental and emotional benefits. Celebrating even small victories, such as noting milestones, checking things off your checklist, and forward progress is easy, fun, and a way to help time pass.
Here is a post that gives you 12 ideas for enjoying work more. Make it a lovely ride. Stop fighting time and start enjoying time!