Nikki Harper – If there’s one thing most adults agree on, it’s that there never seems to be enough time in the day. Everyone is busy in their own way, and even though most of us are aware of basic time management techniques, living them is a very different matter.
From a spiritual perspective, however, time management really doesn’t need to be so hard. To understand where you might be going wrong, let’s look at five common time sucks which stand in the way of the fulfilled life you just know you were meant to lead:
Time Suck #1: Neglecting Your Own Needs
As a spiritual person, you are probably instinctively kind to others, and generous with both your heart and your time. When you’re known as someone who will do anything for anyone, however, it begs the question: who’s going to take care of you?
You can’t keep on giving your time and attention to others unless you’ve first given time and attention to yourself. If you are worn out, frustrated and frazzled, then it’s going to take you longer to do that favor for a friend. What might take you ten minutes could easily take an hour or more if your head isn’t in the right place. We’ve all been there.
So, prioritize your own needs for a few days. Take the break you need. Curl up and read a good book. Cook your favorite meal. Go for a walk where you want to go, just because you want to go.
It’s easy to think of these things as either selfish or time wasting – but in truth they are neither. Caring for others starts with caring for yourself, and once you’ve satisfied your own needs, you will feel calmer, more focused and better able to make use of the time you do share with others.
Time Suck #2: Multitasking
As a society, we tend to admire and praise those who can successfully juggle twelve different tasks at once, before breakfast. They certainly are efficient – but from a spiritual perspective, what good does cutting yourself into lots of little pieces do?
When you’re multitasking, you are by definition not giving your whole self to any one of the things you are doing. You’re giving at best half of yourself, often very much less than this. It’s often enough to get the job done, but not as well or as quickly as you might otherwise have done it.
Because we’re conditioned to praise multitasking, it also makes it more difficult for you to say ‘no’ to a new request for your help. Yes, you’re trying to do X, but surely you can manage to fit Y in alongside it, no? No. You can’t. So, don’t.
Opt to do one thing at a time. As counter intuitive as it may feel, in the long run, you will save time this way.
Time Suck #3: Scattered Attention
This is related to #2, but it’s easy to lose focus even if you are only doing one thing at a time, especially if that thing isn’t the most exciting thing in the world.
When we need to clean the bathroom, tidy away clothes, write that boring report or ferry the kids to yet some other activity, it’s very easy to get distracted. You might think that if you’re driving along and in your head also calculating last year’s tax returns, you’re saving time and going a good job, right? Not really. You’re missing an opportunity to be truly invested in what you’re doing at that time: driving your kids.
Practice mindfulness with the most boring tasks on your list. Devote your whole attention to them and to them to the very best of your ability, even if they are so very mundane. You’ve devoted a chunk of your precious time to this matter, whether through choice or necessity, so honour it by giving it your full attention.
Giving a task your full attention also helps to avoid mistakes, which is a very common and easy way to waste time. If you’re doing it, do it right the first time.
Time Suck #4: Second Guessing Your Time Choices
So, you’ve taken care of yourself, you’ve picked a single task and you’re prepared to focus on it fully. However, with so much to do, it’s only natural to sometimes wonder if you’ve made the right choice with how you allocate your time. What if, instead of working on this report, you should be exercising? What if, instead of playing a board game with your youngest, you should be spending quality time with your partner? What if, instead of taking the dog on the long walk you both love so much, you should have opted for the shorter route and spent the extra time preparing a dessert?
Stop second guessing. You’ve made a decision, so stick to it. You’ll never know whether you’ve made the “right” choice or not, so there’s no point fretting about it. You’ve made “a” choice, and that’s all you can do. Have the confidence that you’ve done the right thing and commit wholeheartedly to whatever you’ve chosen to prioritise.
Time Suck #5: Technology
OK, some of your tasks will undoubtedly require you to be ‘plugged in’ in some format or other, whether it’s for work or for leisure. But for those many tasks in life which don’t require connectivity – turn off your tech. Turn off your phone, unplug, detox from the digital world, even if only for those five or ten minutes.
You do not need to be constantly checking your phone, unless you’re waiting for some kind of emergency contact. Seriously, what is there on there that you cannot wait to see? Likewise with all other kinds of tech.
Did you know that the average American uses a tech gadget of some kind or other for over 10 hours a day? Or that on average, we check interact with our phones 2617 times per day? That’s extraordinary. And totally ridiculous. Digital tech is full of opportunities and can be a true lifeline – but it’s also a hell of a time suck. Turn it off when you don’t need it. And breathe.
You have time.
SF Source Wake Up World Nov 2020