According to what I’ve read, a Finnish proverb says, “Happiness is a place between too much and too little.”
I don’t know if it started with the Finns, but the sentiment is universal. The core of most of the complaints people have pertains to having too much or not enough of something.
But then, there’s the paraphrase of a Shakespearean quote that you can’t have too much of a good thing.
You might argue there is no such thing as eating too much chocolate or having too much money. You’d probably change your mind, though, when your stomach aches from indulging.
And while I’m not rich in cash terms, I can speak from having witnessed the hassles and heartaches that come from either not enough money or an abundance of wealth.
How does this pertain to you becoming a Time Master?
Sometimes we have too much time on our hands, but usually, we don’t have enough. Getting to the happy middle place is challenging, but you can get there with some insightful changes.
Think about your time as if it’s an actual clock.
Some days are like the classic watch in the picture. Sleek, simple, the minutes and hours are clearly defined, and it gets the job done without a lot of fuss and drama--a good day. (Unless you love drama, but I’m guessing that’s not you if you’re reading this.)
But other days feel like we’re the 33rd busy character who doesn't quite fit in the complicated Munich Rathaus Glockenspiel, trying to respond to the demands of the clock’s 43 bells. Round and round and not catching up, and if just one element is out of synch, the whole thing stops working. Exhausting and usually unsustainable.
If you want to transform from harried and stressed, or bored to tears, to the content middle place of to cool, calm, and collected, think of your time like a clock.
When master craftspeople build clocks, they need to envision the final product, what parts are required, the best way to fit the pieces together so they operate smoothly, and how to get them from start to finish according to the goal of the original design. You can do the same with your time. (Or almost anything else, for that matter.)
Let’s make it even simpler. Start by deconstructing the way you already use time. The parts you must work with are your choice of words, decisions and obligations, and attention. How do most of your days go? Frazzled, resentful, too slow, and chaotic? Or too meandering for your taste, with little or no interest?
Listen to what you think and say about your time. Your words will direct you to what’s keeping you from that happy midground between too much and too little.
This is especially true if you hear yourself talking about why you don’t have enough time to “Do that damn thing.” Frustration kills productivity right away, but it’s easier to attribute it to not enough time than address the root problem of not wanting to do something.
“I don’t have enough time” actually means your commitments and obligations to do something won’t fit into the time you have available.
Accurate planning makes the difference.
You’re behind before you start if you ignore the time needed to transition gently from one activity before starting the next, or forget about preparation and travel time.
If someone else controls your schedule it's their estimation of your time that's inaccurate.
How much control do you have over accepting or declining assignments? How many interruptions will you allow before either stopping them or accounting them in your plans? Who is in control of your time, you or someone else? Can we change that?
“I didn’t have enough time” can also point to not taking into account your ability to muster attention to a task. Time Masters factor their internal clocks into planning and committing their time.
If you prefer to go to sleep later than average, don’t expect to concentrate on anything at 6 am. If you need two hours of exercise before your attention kicks in, plan accordingly.
If you have ADD, allow time to get the best part of your concentration. This is especially important if you use medications to assist; they take time to work, and you also might need a booster. Are you easily distracted in the morning? Then save that time for no-or short-focus activities. (You can watch a movie in the morning just as easily as at night.)
Conversely, “I have too much time on my hands” can indicate you are looking for something to inspire you, to take you away from boredom and into interest. You’re disquieted and looking for a distraction from that uncomfortable feeling. TVs, refrigerator contents, and online shopping are great for taking away boredom for a bit, but at what cost?
Delve into thinking about what you enjoy doing and who you like to share time with. Develop a list of things to do when you’re bored. 'Take a nap' is as legitimate as 'paint the doors' or 'pay the bills.' 'Sit in a chair and think' is as equally valuable as 'beekeeping.' (OK, maybe not if the kids are smearing jelly on the walls.) Do you need to find people to inspire you? Where do people with similar interests gather?
The feeling of mastery comes from understanding how to create the middle ground of comfort with well-used time, whatever that means to you. It’s knowing you can cope with occasional time craziness as well as occasional boredom because you know what you can control is controlled, and life happens.
Highlight the sections of this article that will help you become a Time Master. Discuss what’s working for you and what needs to change with those you live and work with.
Perhaps you’d like to explore your options with a coach if you’re not clear about the problems and solutions and aren't ready to ‘go public’ with your wants and needs.
Small changes lead to significant results.
Get out of the red zone of too much or too little.
Reading this far has already started your changes. Go for it. It’s time.
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