A lot of my reading and thinking lately has been along the lines of choices and balance in life. When talking about choices I’m referring to the choices we make in life every day in every area that naturally lead to wherever we currently find ourselves. The big picture thought here is that choices have natural consequences be they good, bad or indifferent. And when I’m talking about balance I’m referring to life balance in particular – that elusive equilibrium of time, finances, schedules, relationships, hobbies, etc. It seems to me that these two concepts of choices and balance are inseparably linked and worth exploring. It also seems to me that the vast majority of people are becoming more and more frazzled with each passing day whether we are talking about finances, schedules or relationships.
This month I want to talk about how we use/misuse our time. The concept of ‘Time Management’ is, in my opinion, a tremendous fallacy. We can no more mange time than we can manage the wind. The whole concept of managing something is that we can gain higher efficiencies or productivity from the same base resources. However, when applied to time, no matter what we do we cannot take an hour and some how squeeze out 63 minutes. It’s not possible. Time is truly the great equalizer. We are all given exactly the same amount each and every day (86,400 seconds per day) regardless of sex, age, income, religion or any other possible demographic. What an interesting concept
To me it’s not a matter of managing our time as much as it is a matter of how do we spend our time. Just like our financial bank accounts, we must decide how we are going to spend the daily deposits of time that are put into our time bank accounts. The difference is that our time ‘bank accounts’ must be spent entirely each and every day. We cannot carry over a balance to the next day, nor can we save any time for a ’rainy day’. At midnight all of our accounts are reset to 86,400 seconds and we must spend them. So the big question is…How are you spending your time?
As I observe our modern day culture I am quite concerned with what I see in regard to people’s schedules and use of time. It seems to me that now, like at no other time, people are constantly on the run. It’s as though every single minute has to be filled with some form of activity, entertainment or just busyness. The importance of quiet reflection, solitude, meditation or simply thinking seems to be lost on us. And it’s not just our lives – we have our kids running on the treadmill right beside us.
I read an article recently in one of our national newspapers that was talking about the elevated stress levels in our kids. I remember thinking “No wonder”. It seems that parents today are out 4 and 5 nights a week going to this event, that game, this practice, etc. And then there’s more on the weekends! And what if you have more than one child? Yikes! No wonder we feel like there’s not enough hours in a day. In fact, there is really no line drawn in the sand any more that says this is our down-time. Our ‘do nothing’ time. Our ‘rest’ time. Every day is now fair game for everything – shopping, working, sports, entertainment, you name it. Now, however, it’s not just adults but our kids as well who are dealing with stress issues in their lives.
Do we seriously believe that we can lead these hectic out of control schedules and have no consequences in other areas of life? If we do not create balance in our schedules and reclaim some of our time for true leisure and relaxation, then sooner or later we are going to blow a gasket somewhere. Maybe it will be in the area of our health. Perhaps strained relationships? Or maybe in the area of our finances? Hopefully not all three. But sooner or later something will give. At what point do we stop and ask ourselves, “Why all the running?” or “To what end?” At some point you just have to say “STOP”. Until then you run the risk of suffering the natural consequences of running, running and running.
I truly believe that our time is our absolute greatest resource. Make sure you are spending yours where you are truly going to get the highest returns. Remember: Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is a Gift…that’s why they call it the Present. Spend it wisely.
By Brian Marling