“I don’t have time for myself”, “I don’t have time”, these are common complaints. But you can do something to organize yourself better, attend to what is important and urgent and do what you like.
I will not walk with false modesty: what is, is. I was born with the gift of knowing how to waste time. From a very young age I was lost in looking at something, or nothing. This made my mother a little nervous, it’s true. She was constantly running: shopping, cleaning, us… I seemed to inhabit another space-time dimension. Throughout my life I have found that this continues to be a bit like that. I see everyone running. They tell me that they don’t have time and that they have many things to do. Even today, as then, I ask myself: What are you doing? How do you manage to fill your day to day so much? Why, after filling it to the top, do you regret not having time to live?
I have to admit that I know some people who live in the same space-time as me, although they seem few to me. I’m very sorry to say it, but I think the good question is not: “What can I do to make time give more of itself?” but rather something like: “What do I do to complicate my existence so much?”
The clue to finding the answers was given to me by a friend years ago. He worked in a publishing house and he told me: “The first thing I do when I arrive in the morning is to take ten minutes to do nothing and think.” He was the first person who made me understand the importance of doing nothing, of taking time. I thought I was on the right track… But let’s go in parts.
HOW DO I GET MORE TIME FOR MYSELF?
It is obvious that a day has 24 hours; one week, seven days; and one year, 365 days if it is not leap. It is obvious that every day you have to do a series of things that you cannot do without: eat, go to the bathroom, take care of your children (if you have them).
A few more are derived from these three basic tasks:
- To eat you have to have food, go to buy and cook it or go to places where you can eat.
- To have food to cook or simply heat, you have to have money, and for that, either you are a rentier or you have to work.
- To go to the bathroom, you have to be able to have a bath, that is drawer. Although many people on the planet do not have it. But let’s focus on our immediate here. Having a bathroom means having a little apartment and paying for it.
- You have to get money… Either you inherit from an uncle in America or you work.
- Taking care of children means feeding them, educating them, taking them to school, dressing them, etc. It takes time for them and money. If the uncle from America is not enough, then to work!
In the Paleolithic we went to collect berries, now we go to the office and then to the supermarket. Deep down, it hasn’t changed that much. But what has changed is that with less time we have the basic needs of food and shelter covered.
I have good news for you: over the centuries, human beings have had more and more free time available. I know that this rather puts you in a bind. Because, if it is true, and it is, what are you doing with your time?
TIME MANAGEMENT: OBLIGATIONS, PLEASURE AND THE UNEXPECTED
The question that many ask is: how do I do what I have to do effectively so that I can have time to do what I want to do?
We have three fields of action. First, we will analyze the obligations that cannot be escaped. Second, what you want to do because you like it. And thirdly, the unforeseen, according to their order of importance.
1. MEET THE OBLIGATIONS
We have to work in a paid occupation, keep the house in order and the fridge with food, take care of our children and ourselves. It is essential that in the field of professional work and in that of work at home we achieve effective time management.
- We must learn to prioritize. Tasks have degrees of importance and urgency. Know what to do first.
- Based on personal priorities, each one has to draw up an action plan and follow it rigorously.
- It is about concentrating on what you do. Focusing your attention on what is in front of you makes life easier: with less effort, it ends sooner. One thing at a time, until completed.
- We must also know what our limits are. There are things that we may not know how to do and need help with, and things that we may not be able to do alone. Learning to ask for help is essential. Also, delegate.
- Things done well save time. When you do something, do it the best you can, committing yourself to the quality of your work. But, yes, once done, forget it. The perfectionism at any cost is not useful, everything can be improved and you could spend your life tweaking.
- Try to enjoy what you have to do… As you have to do it anyway, unless you like it.
- Have a positive attitude. Anything is a learning field and it can give you satisfaction if you put your mind to it. Work on your presence in the present moment. You will do it faster and maybe you will see it even differently.
2. TIME TO DO WHAT WE LIKE
This is not a valley of tears! Get the things you like to do out of the drawer. Many people forget the things they like to do along the way of their lives, because they think they don’t have time. Maybe you like to play an instrument. So, you can practice every day for 10 minutes. It’s not much? Less is nothing! 10 minutes x 30 days is 300 minutes, that is, 5 hours a month or 60 hours a year. Wow, a week-long intensive. Not bad, right?
And also, without obligations, because you like it and enjoy those ten minutes.
Inwardly give yourself permission to enjoy doing the things you love to do. This is an important point, because sometimes you don’t give yourself permission to have a good time when you think you have a lot to do.
Take time for yourself, without obligations to anyone, just for you. We have been taught that we should not be selfish. But healthy selfishness is one that allows us to be in the best conditions to later share with others and give them all our love and support. Being alone from time to time is necessary and each person must know to what extent they need it.
3. SOLVE THE UNFORESEEN (OR NOT!)
The day to day is usually punctuated by events that were not in the program. There are people who make these unforeseen their best allies to do what they did not have to do and neglect what they had to do. It is essential to discriminate the unforeseen.
Some should be fixed without delay, but others are not urgent, they can wait or go unattended. For example, when someone decides to take ten minutes to play the trumpet, if the phone rings, they may not answer and wait for the caller to leave a message to listen to later. Unless a call is being expected, one can afford to let the answering machine do its job.
Managing the phone is important. Too many hours are spent talking for him and often not to say much… It is better to limit yourself to what you need to do and who you want to talk to.
When you have children, the unexpected are always on the menu. You have to anticipate it and develop a comfortable schedule that allows you to do things without stress. Some things can wait until later or tomorrow, even next year… It’s all about prioritizing. You have to learn to be flexible. Changing plans can sometimes be necessary and readjust quickly, a test of mental youth. If necessary, the sooner it is done, the better.
TEST TO KNOW HOW YOU USE YOUR TIME
I propose a small survey to raise awareness about how you would like to ideally distribute your time and how you organize yourself in practice. Reflecting on it allows you to take a first step towards change.
Order the following items according to their importance to you, from highest to lowest. Look: which one do you put first? And which one last?
- time for yourself
On an ideal day (24 hours) mark the time you would like to dedicate to each thing. You can break down each section into as many subsections as you need. Here we propose some options but feel free to consider the ones that you think are convenient and best suit you:
- Family: care for children, parents, partners, other relatives, Internet connections (e-mail, Skype, etc.).
- Friends: calls, meetings, lunches and dinners, Internet.
- Work: at your workplace, at home, DIY and maintenance, looking for work, talking about work, commuting
- Hobbies: animals, plants, sports, cinema, photos, trips and their planning, television, exhibitions, painting, writing, reading, games, dancing, concerts, walks, Internet.
- Time for yourself: personal care, medical, being alone.
- Rest: night rest, naps, relaxation, relaxation exercises.
- Training and study: courses, seminars, readings, intellectual projects, participation in study groups, academic activities, specialized magazines.
- Sex: with your partner, with lovers, alone, the Internet.
- Spirituality: religious rituals, meditation, readings, groups, attention to the present moment. Now review the same sections but responding with the real time that you usually dedicate to each thing. Compare your ideal day with your real day, the one you live each day. Make your own conclusions.
4 KEYS TO IMPROVING YOUR RELATIONSHIP OVER TIME
Don Juan, the old Indian teacher of the anthropologist and writer Carlos Castaneda, used to say that “time is a rubber band.” We have all had this perception: minutes that become eternal, hours that fly by… moments that last forever.
1. BE AWARE OF YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE WEATHER
The Greeks, who had a wide variety of deities, had three to speak of the time: Cronos, Aión and Kairos.
- Chronos is the time that devours its children; its passage is inexorable, the minutes, the hours follow one another without our being able to stop them, and they lead us to grow old. It is human time, both linear and cyclical.
- Aion is the god who represents both the young and the old. It is a time that remains, it always is. We could say that it is unlimited and infinite time.
- Kairos is a minor deity. It is the fleeting moment, that special moment that appears when it wants and fades without our being able to retain it. It is “the opportune moment to…”, the now or never, the turning point, the occasion. We have to catch him on the fly.
Psychologically it is important that we understand that what we call time is a reality with different characteristics and that we can integrate these three gods or aspects of time. Although it is true that “time does not forgive anything”, as the poet said, and that the time of gray hair and wrinkles comes to all of us, perception and feeling change if we are able to understand and experience the aspect that represents Aion.
We are part of a cyclical nature, which is constantly renewed. Our cells are renewed; our thoughts if we let them too; our emotions, times of life, friends and different relationships… everything is renewed. And although one day we die and physically disappear from the planet, we are only being part of that cycle that surpasses and contains us. Who knows what other rebirth causes deat, Aión tells us that whatever happens, there is something infinite and unlimited of which we are part, an essence, a transcendence, a permanence.
This is an essential point of the personal attitude towards time. Although you are not very conscious or not at all aware of it, the different understanding and consequent anguish that Cronos can cause in each person induces certain behaviors that seek to cover that anguish. In short, if we live only in Cronos, the fear of disappearing leads us to want to use our time in a compulsive way or perhaps to despair in the face of the inevitable…
We can end up like that god who devoured his children, in the metaphorical sense of fearing the new that comes and that will inevitably end up displacing us. Letting yourself live and flow enjoying the moment is to position yourself in Aión: time passes but each moment is unique and eternal. We must also be attentive to welcome each Kairos that arrives, as a beautiful gift of life, as the opportunity to live fully.
2. THINK IN CYCLES AND MAKE A PLAN
When we have to do a task, we can feel comfortable with it or not, have more or less desire to do it, but we know that it has a beginning and an end.
If it is somewhat cumbersome, we will rejoice thinking that it will not last forever. If we like it, it will help us to enjoy every second.
Similarly, we can foresee that what we do we will probably have to do it again in life. Maybe tomorrow. When I vacuum, I know that dust and crumbs are going to fall again, etc. The cycle will restart the moment you put it in the closet.
The best thing is that I have an action plan that allows me to be effective in what I do and that takes into account the cycle so that I can keep my space clean.
In another area, if I run a company, I know that I have to maintain communication with my team. Therefore, I will dedicate a weekly time to talk with my subordinates, although sometimes it will seem to me that it is not necessary.
We must find cycles, rhythms. This helps us to organize ourselves and at the same time to flow. With all this, we will have put Cronos on our side.
2. LIVE IN THE MOMENT AND DON’T MISS YOUR OPPORTUNITIES
Let’s not forget Kairos. He brings the touch of the unforeseen and the opportunity to catch. In any task, he can surprise us with his inspiration, with his encouragement, infusing us with new strength and opening up horizons. When it arrives, you have to welcome it and listen to it. Do not miss the occasions, You have to be attentive!
See the moments that you now recognize as empty moments, without content, those that you could have filled with meaning, but that escaped you. The other day a person did this exercise with me and suddenly he understood the importance of nights, which he occupied by lying on the sofa to watch television. Every day he thought he wanted to start writing, one day or another, From this exercise he has begun to alternate the television series with nights of reading, writing and music.
He told me that he is happy to have recovered those moments for himself, and that even during work hours he had ideas that he would later put into action at night. His creativity had resurfaced.
You don’t need to get dramatic, but you have to realize that our time is absolutely limited. While things are rarely as we dream, reality can improve with an entrepreneurial attitude. We must take charge of our life! And life is simply every day, every moment. Right now.
4. PUT LIMITS ON TECHNOLOGY
Emails, social networks, cell phones with cameras, tablets with games… The possibility of spending a lot of time on devices and ways of relating to relationships is very high. Be aware of this.
Technologies are increasingly present in our lives. We live on the e-mail and the telephone, glued to the tablets or the computer. Everything seems to have to be immediate as it can be. When we receive an e-mail, it seems to us that it should be answered as soon as possible.
When someone goes on a trip, they post their photos on social networks as they take them so that their friends and family know what they do. We can talk to our clients or friends from anywhere in the world. We can share information and obtain it immediately. What we are forgetting is that we can leave the phones turned off and the computer, too.
It is devastating to see couples sitting at the table in restaurants, each talking on the phone. Or mothers who walk with their children while they are chatting with a friend on the phone and neglecting the moment.
Here are some proposals:
- It is important not to be invaded by our beloved devices and their immediacy. You can leave the phone when you go for a walk, alone, as a couple or as a family. Later, there will be the possibility of telling whoever you want where you have been, if you wish.
- You can turn off the phone when playing with children, allowing them to feel that they are important.
- It is advisable to spend time with the couple without internet through.
- Unless you have a great responsibility, it is not necessary to always be reachable.
- Online games deserve a separate comment. Many people get hooked on them and spend hours and hours in front of the screen. If this is your case, ask yourself if you are freely doing what you want to do. If you feel hooked and can’t get out, ask for help.