Busy-ness 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.
– Barack Obama
If Barack Obama can try to focus on one simple thing at a time, so can we. 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 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 urgency and “yes” to the vital, meaningful, life-giving things that make us truly happy.
And there may be other things we may need to say “no” to besides urgency. Our time is a precious and limited resource. “No” is an important part of our vocabulary, and essential for self-care. Jack Canfield in The Success Principles recomends 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 started yoga and meditation time in my morning routine for the past six months. I get up 15 minutes earlier and do a quick set of 5 “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 (“Oh yeah, I practice Chinese daily because eventually, I want Bramble Berry to do something over there.”)
Whatever you do to add more quality time in your day, feel good knowing that quality time pursuing activities that mirror your life values increases the level of happiness you feel on a daily basis.
There is always another boarding.”
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This happiness series has been AMAZING! It is so cool that you’re willing to share so much of your time with all the peeps out here. I know what you mean about your mind going into that peaceful place when you’re under water. I don’t scuba dive but I LOVE LONG HOT BATHS and I usually stick my head under the water for a few seconds and just blot out the world for a tiny freeze frame of time that is all my own.
Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill says
I get in the position at times where I forget to take a deep breath and remember everything is a little thing for the most part.
I love reading Covey materials.
Thank you again for this series, Anne-Marie.
Great quote and a good reminder. If you can do yoga, I can …
Great post. I know for me when I do not have that slow time, my life seems to get way out of balance. I am not happy, usually tired, and not very productive. I have been working on turning that around. The first thing I had to do was say that it was ok that not everything was done today. It takes a lot of pressure off which allows me to enjoy some “slow time”