Time is one of those funny concepts, eh? We spend our lives mapping and tracking it, worrying about wasting it and even trying to save it. But as some smart person (I have no idea who) once said, you can?t save time; you can only spend it. And, boy oh boy, can you ever waste it. But can you manage it?
This, for many, is a major problem, because there are so many reasons why folks can't get done what they aspire to do. Sometimes we ask way too much of ourselves. Sometimes squandering time is an expression of complicated inner conflicts.
And sometimes it's just that we're lazy, scatterbrained or easily distracted. Hey, look over there! Where? What? Huh, where was I?
What the experts say
"It's not about managing our time -- it's about managing our energy. We live by the to-do list and think if we can just get through it things will be fine, and they're not. The to-do list is forever. Ask how many items you can take off your list. We need to schedule time for things we really love and not allow other stuff to get in the way. We allow things to drain us emotionally, and when we're drained we don't have energy to do what we love, so we wind up sitting in front of the TV. Part of managing energy is choosing where you're going to expend it. Experience being in the moment instead of multi-tasking. Women are very good at multi-tasking and wind up not getting enough out of their experiences."
IRIS BENRUBI , business coach, Toronto
" Close your eyes and think of a time when you were incredibly motivated. See what you'd see, hear what you'd hear and feel what you'd feel; allow those feelings to build up, because your unconscious mind doesn't know the difference between reality and fiction. When they've built up, touch yourself somewhere fleshy like your forearm. You then associate that feeling with that anchor. Next time you're feeling unmotivated, fire that anchor by touching yourself in the same way. In reality, you can't manage time -- you can only work with it."
TIM BROWNSON , life coach, Orlando, Florida
"From a yoga point of view, the cerebral hemispheres shift roughly every three hours, from one side to the other [as indicated by which nostril dominates.] This is very handy to know, and helps people do things more effectively. There are cycles based on the motion of the Earth and the sun, cycles based on the human body and cycles based on shifts in consciousness and time. Those are numerological cycles, nine-, seven-, 18-, 25-year cycles. The best known is the nine. There are also 40-, 90-, 120- and 1,000-day cycles. If you want to change a habit, you can do it in 40 days. If you want to master something, it takes 1,000 days. Know your numerological cycles. If today you're in a cycle of completion, it wouldn't be the best time to plan your future. If tomorrow is a cycle of new beginnings, it would be a time to get things started."
YOGI AKAL , numerologist, director, School of Yoga Therapy and Natural Medicine, Toronto
"People suffer from confusion between urgency and duration. The urgency of a matter makes it seem to last longer. Something that's short but urgent has the same effect on our energy as something that's less urgent but takes more time. Most of us are multi-tasking. Urgent things take away our capacity to deal with scheduling. A mindfulness approach helps people get a sense of the moment and not worry about the passage of time. Through it one learns to stay in a non-anxious place so urgency is reduced. It's almost miraculous -- there's a sense of having plenty of time. One of the best ways to be mindful is light meditation -- sitting or walking or tai chi -- and telling yourself that the tasks are enjoyable and useful."
STEPHEN VAN BEEK , psychotherapist and founder of the Toronto Therapy Network
"One problem is over-commitment. Discover the root cause of why you're over-committing yourself. It could be a simple inability to say no. Also, people are lousy at estimating how long things take to get done. Procrastination is a choice. If you want to end it, set a date or specific time to do whatever it is. You may even want to make it painful to procrastinate by putting something at stake, like your word or your time or your money. Deny yourself a reward. Make sure the penalty is worse than doing the task you've been putting off."
PETER TURLA , time management expert, San Jose, California