Taking Back Control

Me In TimeI’ve been hearing a lot about having “no time” lately. I”ve been there, too.

And I love Edward Hallowell’s advice in this HBR essay. He say, Never before in human history have we asked our brains to process as many data points per minute as we do today.

He offers these three suggestions:

Remedy # 1: Take back control. You gave it away, you can take it back. People tell me every day that they have no control, that their lifestyle demands they rush, that their boss demands they be crazy busy, that the culture they live in forces them to overcommit. To which I say, “If you really look at how you spend your time, you’ll find ways to save more of it for what really matters to you.” The chief culprit? A habit I call screensucking. Mindless time spent online, on your mobile device, on whatever, sending and receiving inane messages, taking on more obligations than you want, or otherwise making poor use of your most precious asset, your time.

Remedy # 2: Build boundaries. Technology has torn down the boundaries that used to naturally protect our time. But now, theoretically, our day has no end. People don’t have time to think. Ask people where they do their best thinking. Rarely will they reply, “At work.” The most common reply I’ve received is, “In the shower.” It’s one of the few places left where a person can’t be reached! Now that we’ve removed boundaries, we need to reconstruct them according to our own best interests so we don’t get overwhelmed.

Remedy # 3: Prioritize. This is a fact: if you don’t take your time, it will be taken from you. It is now imperative first to know what matters most, and second to reserve time to do it. It is easy in the tsunami of modern life to get so overcommitted and overwhelmed that you do not make time for what you, yourself, really want to make time for. Decide what matters most, then do it!

I can wallow in the “feel sorry for me” syndrome of “busy-ness” too, but we make choices about time. We should make time for what we value. And if we are in a position where we are feeling stress because we are asked to give time for something we don’t value, perhaps we need to be/do something else instead of complaining about it.

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