Time: Our Precious Resource

Business seems to be a plague of our current society. Despite modern conveniences and technology, once thought to be the key to a more leisurely lifestyle, time seems to be in shorter and shorter supply and we think we have to keep moving faster (I know I certainly do!). People (myself included) seem to boast about being busy, as if having 112 e-mails to answer, or only getting six hours of sleep, was a sign of success.

The starting point of time management is for you to determine your goals, and then to organize your goals by priority and value.
— Brian Tracy

Time is a precious resource and we need to reflect on how we use it. Do we manage our time wisely? There are many time management models, but over the years, I’ve always loved Stephen Covey’s model of time management, described in his books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First. He talks about the difference between “urgent” and “important.” We respond to urgent matters all day long and keep up an urgent time schedule, and are driven by urgency, but we don’t do the things that are important – that are, in fact, vital to our happiness.

According to Covey, the important things that we typically don’t allow ourselves time to do include: improving our communication with the people in our lives, taking better care of ourselves, personal development and personal empowerment, seizing new opportunities, and better planning and organizing. For example, when we don’t focus on our communication – with a spouse, children, family, friends, fellow workers, etc. – there’s a string of negative consequences, and there’s a BIG, if sometimes not immediately obvious, effect on happiness.

Like chemical abuse, says Covey, urgency is an addiction. It’s like taking a painkiller and then using it in excess. Then what happens is that we don’t make choices and decisions; urgency makes those choices and decisions for us. Which means we need to get off the urgency treadmill. We need to think carefully about what is truly important that we’re not doing and who is truly important that we’re not spending time with. Shandel Slaten from True Life Coaching has a great call-in class (Life 101) that can help you identify what your values are and what is truly important to you. We have to say “no” to the urgency and “yes” to the vital, meaningful, life-giving things that make us truly happy.

Opportunities are around you all the time. There is never a boat that you must catch. There is always another boarding.
— Michael Argyle

And there may be other things we may need to say “no” to besides urgency. Our time is a precious and a limited resource. “No” is an important part of our vocabulary, and essential for self-care. Jack Canfield in The Success Principles recommends a “Just Say No” list. I have one of those lists and while it doesn’t make everything all perfect and easy for me to whittle down my to-do list, it certainly helps.

We have the slow food movement; now we need the slow time movement. What slows time for you? Some people meditate or join meditation groups to slow themselves down and cultivate awareness. Some people do yoga. Some people walk in the forest or by the ocean to get back in touch with the rhythm of the universe.

Trying to add “slow time” to my life, I’ve added yoga and meditation time in my morning routine. I get up 15 minutes earlier and do a quick set of five “Sun Salutations” (don’t know what a sun salutation is? Click here for a quick YouTube video explanation) and then focus on my goals for the year ending with an easy daily meditation reading. This morning time seems to help me focus on my day and reviewing why I do what I do before the day really starts. It is a great motivator and reminder.

Whatever you do to add more quality time in your day, feel good knowing that quality time pursuing activities that mirror your life values increase the level of happiness you feel on a daily basis.