Humans invented the measurement of hours fairly early on in our history. Then we added minutes and seconds. We've only recently conceived of the nanosecond. We've forgotten that time is fiction, a simple measuring device we created in our history as a human race. We imbue time with significance, judge it as being "quality" or not, and race against it.
Where are you rushing to? You really have only one clear destination -- six feet under the ground. Why would you be in such a hurry to get there? Why are you moving so fast that you can't stop to see the enormity, beauty, and wonder of the world in front of you? Why must you put off your life until later, someday, when you have time? Why is now not quite good enough?
Shifting Your Time Priorities
To help you change how you relate to time, I've designed a very simple A-B-C-D system for rating the value and immediacy of the things you do every day.
A Activities are those such as lovingly preparing your children for bed. A Activities nourish you. They include physical exercise, prayer, meditation, writing in a journal, and listening intently to family and friends. Your motto for A Activities will be: Just do them!
B Activities are reactionary. This is when the doctor tells you that if you don't exercise, you're going to die, as opposed to the A Activity of exercising without the threat of imminent demise. B Activities can be found in the world of crisis. Your motto for B Activities will be: Eliminate these by getting them handled now.
C Activities are those things that are best done by someone else. Making your children's beds when they could be doing this for themselves, or handling papers that a clerical assistant could be filing are C Activities. If you're like me, you may be a bit of a control freak. When I want something done, I feel I have to do it myself. This means that I'm often doing things others could do better. Your motto for C Activities will be: Delegate these.
D Activities steal and drain your energy. Time you spend daydreaming, gossiping, and criticizing yourself and others are D Activities. They produce little and take away a lot. Your motto for D Activities will be: Stop doing these!
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
By using this simple A-B-C-D system for categorizing how you spend your time, you'll be able to analyze why you're not being as highly productive and efficient as you could be. Engaging in B, C, and D Activities prevents you from fulfilling your life goals.
You can also look at how you spend your time in terms of the people you have relationships with. I've classified relationships as A, B, C, or D. This isn't for making judgments about people, but only to help you gain clarity on how you relate to them. Very fine and upstanding people can have inefficient or even hurtful relationships that bring out the worst instead of the best in each other.
- A Relationships restore and nourish you. An example of an A Relationship would be a personal coach; or depending on your religious tradition, your priest, rabbi, or spiritual advisor. Certain ways of relating to spouses, family members, and friends form A Relationships because in an uncritical, loving way, these people hold you to a higher standard. A Relationships expect you to fulfill the purpose of your life, and this makes them priority relationships. You're engaging in an A Relationship when you spend time with yourself. Your motto will be: Spend most of your time with A Relationships.
- B Relationships tend to maintain the status quo. Most friends, clients, and even family members fall into the category of B Relationships. I give friends a bum rap in The Game, because a friend typically accepts all the excuses you offer for not being great, and they may even supply some you haven't thought of. Friends often relate to your insecurities, because your fears and weaknesses are compatible with theirs. B Relationships are often very nice and loving. In marriages, partners often become B Relationships for each other. You can transform a B Relationship into an A Relationship by asking the person to support you in achieving your goals, and to lovingly let you know when you're not keeping commitments to yourself. Your motto will be: Transform B Relationships into A Relationships.
- C Relationships are the passersby in your life. They're associates, and usually you can barely remember their names. They're not your friends. They're not contributing to your well-being and may be a drain on your time, energy, and other resources. Your motto will be: Spend as little time as possible with C Relationships.
- D Relationships are the people with whom you gossip, commiserate, or whine. D Relationships hurt you and take energy away from you. Your motto will be: Spend no time at all with D Relationships.
You'll want to analyze how much time you spend in A Activities with A Relationships. Let's say you're spending time with yourself. This, of course, is an A Relationship. But what if you're daydreaming the entire time you're alone? That would mean that you're not doing an A Activity with an A Relationship. Spending time alone and planning your day so it's more productive and fulfilling is an example of doing an A Activity with an A Relationship.
Here's a new rule: Spend the majority of your day doing A Activities with A Relationships.
Perhaps Game-player Greg Kadet summed up this principle best by saying, "Everything I do, every person I interact with, must further my destiny."
How Effective Are You?
I've noticed that most of us aren't willing to admit it, but we actually only work about 45 minutes to two hours a day. If you can't see it in yourself, maybe you have time-wasters in your office. They're the walking dead. This is why I say that most people are overwhelmed but underworked.
How much of your day, of your life, are you puttering away, spinning in circles without ever accomplishing much? To get yourself into motion right away, I suggest that you double your pace. You've probably been under the illusion all your life that only slow and steady wins the race. You've been told that moving quickly will cause you to make more mistakes. Sometimes this is true, but experiment. See if moving at double your usual pace really makes you less efficient. You may be surprised to find that for the most part, you haven't been working; you've been daydreaming.
What is the single most inefficient thing you do all day? Your most unproductive activity might be getting up and down for a cup of coffee or a cigarette. This most inefficient activity is something you'd classify as a D Activity, and you'll want to find a way to eliminate it so you can clear a space for more A Activities.
What's Important to You?
If you're ever going to change your relationship with time, you have to figure out what's important to you.
Game-player Leslie Nelson says that by the age of 30, she'd spent most of her time pushing herself too hard at the expense of her personal life. Leslie suffered a lower back injury. This turned out to be something that showed her just how out of touch with her own needs she'd become. Leslie says that for two weeks, she was only able to work one hour a day, compared to her usual eight to ten hours.
It took a couple of days for me to adjust to my physical limitations. I literally had to lie on the floor, because this was the only position that didn't cause severe pain.
To my surprise, I started getting used to and even enjoying being on the floor. I noticed the trees swaying in the breeze outside my window. I watched the fish swimming in the aquarium. I observed what goes on in my house during the day as the animals walked around. I'd missed all these things while I'd been so preoccupied, even though I worked at home.
During those precious two weeks of only working one hour and spending the rest of my time on the floor, I realized that I'd lost the joy of being present in my own life. I'd been so busy thinking about work that I'd removed myself from the things that were most important to me.
I discovered that I'd lost life's precious moments with my constant flurry of activity. I realized I'd been on a track that would have led to losing my good health. I was the kind of person who would have had a heart attack in her 40s. I love to work. I never stop. But constant work isn't good for my health.
I completely re-created my schedule to regain balance and perspective in my life.
Expanding Time with Multitasking
As you develop a wonderful partnership with your mind, you'll think of creative ways to accomplish more than one thing at a time. This is true multi-tasking, in which you maintain maximum focus, energy, and presence, while doing simultaneous non-competing activities. Multitasking done well allows you to squeeze between the spaces of life and create more time for yourself.
Multitasking can teach you the difference between velocity and speed. I'm sure you've seen people who are working very fast with much exertion, effort, and a look of disgust or worry on their faces. They're focused on getting things finished quickly, and they're usually making a lot of mistakes. When speedy people try to multitask, others see them as being confused, busy, or overly ambitious.
Velocity is a different process. It's more like the experience of being "in the zone" or fully connected with what you're doing, as opposed to rushing or hurrying. When you're operating with velocity, you feel a sense of inner calm and peacefulness, as if you're outside of yourself watching what you're doing. With velocity, others see you accomplishing many things effortlessly while remaining focused and serene.
Multitasking Versus Confusion
Sometimes people think they're multitasking, but they're just confused. They're driving, drinking coffee, and listening to the radio while trying to read the newspaper. I'd call that being distracted, not multitasking.
Examples of confusion are:
- Eating while working. These two tasks aren't compatible because working distracts you from fully tasting, chewing, and digesting your food.
- E-mailing or typing while you're talking on the telephone. These two activities are incompatible because you may respond with a lack of concentration to the e-mail, while giving the person on the other end of the phone the impression that you aren't fully listening.
- Paying your bills while your children are trying to tell you something. These activities are incompatible because your kids may feel that you're not interested in what they're saying or could think your frustration about your bills is being directed at them.
Examples of true multitasking, where you maintain focus and balance while doing simultaneous, compatible activities, are:
- Reading a novel while pedaling a stationary bicycle. These are compatible because the exercise is repetitive and doesn't require a lot of attention, and you can enjoy the act of reading as well.
- Doing push-ups against the wall while riding in an elevator. These are compatible activities because it's not necessary to be focused on any thing while you're standing in the elevator, and pushing away from the wall doesn't require a lot of attention. Almost any kind of physical activity is compatible with waiting around for something to happen.
- Listening to audiocassettes while driving in your car, or while running or walking. This is a good use of time, since while driving or exercising, you might otherwise occupy your mind with meaningless daydreaming.
Multitasking by Collapsing and Folding Time
I've shared my childhood fascination with comic books. Some other reading material that captured my attention as a child was science fiction, especially the classic series Dune by Frank Herbert. Some of the characters he wrote about had extraordinary powers. They could collapse space and fold time, which enabled them to travel across galaxies in an instant.
In The Game, you will learn how to be a time traveler, too -- to collapse time and fold space. This means learning to bind together seemingly disparate activities that you want to accomplish -- doing laundry while listening to classical music or an audio book -- so they occur seamlessly and simultaneously. This is what you're doing while playing The Game -- you're creating a seamless life where you can combine activities and gain the power of velocity.
On the other hand, your Game might require that you go in the opposite direction of multitasking in order to achieve a balanced life. Game-player Bill Meyer summarizes this idea effectively.
Time-packing, multitasking, and efficiency in all things are admirable skills to develop. But sometimes I just need to walk on the treadmill with no reading, no technology, and no company research, and be complete with doing one activity well. When I focus on one thing at a time like this, I take pleasure in the footfalls and the breathing. Sometimes a walk is just a walk.
You decide how you want to change your relationship with time. After all, it's always your Game and your life.
Exercise: How Much Is My Time Worth?
Write down what you want your annual income to be. Divide this amount by 52 to figure out your weekly rate. Then divide your weekly rate by 40 to get your hourly rate. Let's say, with these calculations, that you realize that to make the amount of income you desire, you should be earning $ 100 per hour. When you look at how you're spending your time each day, which activities are $100-per-hour tasks? Is watching television a $ 100-per-hour activity? Is finding out the birthdays of your best customers and sending cards to them worth $100? Is organizing your workspace for maximum productivity and efficiency a $ 100-per-hour task? Only you can decide. Based on what your hourly rate needs to be, decide if your typical daily activities are ones you should be doing, delegating, or eliminating.
Exercise: Planning Your Powerful Day
Plan a powerful day by spending the major portion of your time doing A Activities with A Relationships at your peak efficiency times. Start by figuring out how you'll do more nourishing things for yourself, your family, and the people you love. Then see how much time is left for work. By eliminating as many B, C, and D Activities; and B, C, and D Relationships as possible, notice how much of your day opens to more productive and satisfying habits, practices, and relationships.
Next, look at your powerful day to analyze when you might multitask or expand time and fold space. How could you combine activities and relationships, or move at double your usual pace? Could you get up earlier to experiment with morning efficiency, thereby making more time for yourself?
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Jodere Group, Inc,
©2001. Distributed by Hay House, Inc. http://www.hayhouse.com
The Game: Win Your Life In 90 Days
by Sarano Kelly.
Motivational speaker Sarano Kelly offers a game with prizes, rules, time limits, and coaches to help readers set goals, measure results, and achieve personal and professional objectives.
About the Author
Sarano Kelley grew up in a gang-infested neighborhood in Brownsville, New York, and became a Vassar graduate who was earning $400,000 as a stockbroker on Wall Street by the time he was 23. He is a well-respected motivational speaker. Sarano coaches financial professionals in the areas of relationship building, management, business development, and negotiation. He teaches them to take control of their time and their lives by putting great ideas into motion to produce results. Kelley founded The Center for Excellence and TheCoachingProgram.com, which offer coaching and corporate training based on the principles in his book, The Game: Win Your Life in 90 Days.