Tummy aches, revved heart rate, the sensation of being boxed in -- stress manifests in mysterious ways. But no matter how it affects you, the solution often involves a reckoning with Father Time. Feeling too busy or hurried compresses time, while doing boring or repetitive work stretches it out painfully. Both take their toll in anxiety and anger. If life seems to be ticking along at an alarming clip, remember that you haven't got into this pickle all by yourself. In some cultures speed is considered immoral -- not, unfortunately, in ours. In places where industrial time rules, North America sets the most frantic pace. In Europe, five or six weeks off annually is the norm and there's a strong trend toward a shorter workweek. In North America, however, corporations put an unreasonable squeeze on employee time -- one more reason to resist globalization.
Thankfully, we're not all indentured slaves yet, and most of us have some free hours. If there never seem to be enough of those, you might be accommodating the needs of others too much and downplaying your own. A recommended tactic for getting into your own rhythm is to spend five minutes every night before you go to sleep reviewing your day and figuring out what you did the way you wanted to and what you want to change. Within a few months, your time will be yours.
Time management experts also advise saying no or delegating wherever possible, pointing out that it's important to recognize that we're usually not the best person to fulfill many of the requests that come our way.WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
"Saying "I'm so busy' lays the blame on others. (You're saying) "Here's what life is doing to me.' Say, "OK, this is my life. How am I going to look at it and what am I going to do about it?' What about the person working for an hourly wage who has little discretionary time? The one thing everyone can do is contextualize things in ways other than a "poor me' mentality. That lowers stress, because you're starting to take control."
PAUL MELDRUM, time management consultant, author of The Busy Fool Meets Father Time"The ethos of faster, quicker, cheaper has put more and more pressure on workers. As work time becomes more intensified, individuals have less time to pursue recreational activities or to be engaged in their communities. More and more time is spent just getting ready for the next day. One response to that stress is to get away from it. Time off is recuperative. Once people get used to more time off work, it starts to matter to them."
DAVID ROBERTSON, director, work organization and training, national office of the CAW"Usually adults hurry children up and children resist because they're caught up in the moment. One thing we can learn from them is to enjoy what we're doing in the moment. Play is where kids learn to live with time organically. A lot of our scheduling is about fear of the unexpected and the uncontrollable. But creative people know that it's the unstructured times that are the most valuable. Unexpected ideas, chance meetings -- we don't know what we're missing by not leaving space for these things."
KATHLEEN McDONNELL, author of Honey, We Lost The Kids: Rethinking Childhood In The Multimedia Age"You can do a lot if your mind is slow enough to make decisions. If your mind's fast, you lose that ability to select between priorities. When we're concerned with many different outcomes and urgencies at one time, it causes us to speed up; that pulls us apart and harms our effectiveness. Concentration is genius. We can practise becoming gniuses by means of one-pointed attention -- paying attention to what we're doing. The more we can slow down our thought process, the better we are at doing everything. I recommend the book Take Your Time: Finding Balance In A Hurried World."
BRIAN RUPPENTHAL, meditation instructor with Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, Tomales, California"Freud said something like, "If you want to live life, face death.' There are people who may have had miserable lives, but once faced with the reality that they're running out of time, I've seen them make good use of their time for the first time in their lives."
ED PAKES, MD, specialist in bereavement/grief counselling