Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yes, I have thyme

Are we actually as busy as we think we are? I don't think so.

The idea of being "time-poor" versus money-rich has been ingrained into us. Think about how many times you complain about not having enough hours in the day or reading lifestyle articles on how to find that work-life balance.

It's not about how many things we need to get done but about how we prioritize. We all have lists of things to do, some have fixed deadlines, others are flexible. It's a matter of putting the most urgent things at the top but also realizing that it's okay to let a few things slide if we don't happen to finish them today.

Busy people are drowning in "time debt" or at least want to appear to be. And in the case of debt (monetary, time or otherwise), I think you have to sit down and evaluate ways to manage and get out of it.

I'm trying to stop saying, "I don't have time" because in actuality, I do. Bits and pieces of it, here and there. Scott Berkun has an excellent blog post about the Cult of Busy. He writes:

"We all get the same amount of time every day. If you can’t do something it’s not about the quantity of time. It’s really about how important the task is to you. I’m sure if you were having a heart attack, you’d magically find time to go to the hospital."

If you break down how the hours in your day are spent, I suspect you'd find a few moments and chunks of time to spare. I know I do. It's like snacking. Some nutritionists emphasize snacking as opposed to eating large meals. The snacks still fill you up, but it's a slower, more steady satiation. I think it's the same with time and your tasks. It's a matter of using those bits and pieces of time wisely or to your satisfaction. I've always wanted to write a novel using small chunks of time. The sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters all add up and the end result is the same.

The idea is similar to the Pomodoro Technique, which is designed to help with effective time management. It emphasizes doing your work in 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks.

I haven't tried it yet, but 25 minutes seems a manageable. Just enough to hold my attention and focus me, but not long enough to leave me feeling strained or stressed.

One last thought I'll leave you with. I love what Scott Berkun writes here:

"Time is the singular measure of life. It’s one of the few things you can not get more of. Knowing how to spend it well is possibly the most important skill you can have."

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