• About Time!

    About Time


    When I was a kid, I was chronically late. My friend, who’d pick me up for school (in those days, we walked to school), unfailingly arrived on time and stood in our hallway, waiting patiently while I dashed around looking for stray books to stuff into my bag, and my mum tried to get me to hold still long enough so she could run a brush through my always-messy and untameable hair.

    Looking back, it’s funny, but there was a lot of unnecessary stress in my life when I was growing up! It’s even funnier when I, after learning punctuality and time management in my 20s, get told by people how “German” I am because of this (I live in Ireland these days). If only they knew how very “un-German” I am by nature! It was a big effort for me to come to terms with that elusive thing called time.

    Over the years, I’ve studied and tried out different time management systems, with varying success. It’s probably no accident that my Coaching specialisation – prioritising passions – has a lot to do with time management.

    Are you ready for some pointers on how to deal with the, quite literally, ‘time of your life’? Read on.

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    Systems failure


    I adore the work of the late Stephen Covey. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is my all-time favourite non-fictional book. It all makes so much sense, and I’m applying so much of it in my own life, and yet, the time management system attached to it is something I’ve never quite been able to implement.

    The same goes for all the other systems I’ve learned about over the years. There are always highly valuable elements I put into practice, but an entire system? Nah. Isn’t that strange?

    I believe it’s because time is a construct which doesn’t actually exist. Gay Hendricks acknowledges this fact in his book The Big Leap and introduces a principle called “Einstein Time”. He points out how relative time really is, how time can drag or fly depending on what we do, and draws the conclusion that it’s under our command. Humans created it and so we can decide how much of it we have. It sounds a little crazy – you’d really have to read it in the book to fully understand – but as long as you understand that time is whatever you make it, you’re getting the gist of it.

    When it comes to learning, I’m very eclectic: I take whatever suits me from the different ideas and approaches I study, and put them into practice. In the following, I’ll tell you some “time hacks” you can use to take control over the time in your life.

    Prioritise like a pro


    If you are one of those people who always have a million things on their plate, Stephen Covey’s quadrants could be a lifesaver. The idea is to focus on the things that are important, but not urgent, things like looking after your health (eating well, going to the gym), your relationship (it’s not urgent to spent quality time with your spouse; you won’t get divorced tomorrow if you don’t do it today, but in the long run, you will run into problems), and self care.

    The important, but not urgent quadrant II contains all the most important parts of our lives. In reality, it often gets pushed aside by things that are urgent, like the phone ringing, everyday chores like the grocery shopping or picking up the kids from school, etc. The idea is to schedule your quadrant II activities first, before everything else, and make them a priority.

    Master of time


    • What activities makes you feel like time stops existing? I mean the kind of feeling you get when you’ve just fallen in love, the way the hours spent with your lover somehow don’t exist, as if the two of you together were outside of time. Anything which makes you feel even remotely like that, is likely a passion and should take a central role in your life.
    • Watch out for your Einstein-Time clues. Audit your life: Are there obligations, clubs, meetings, even hobbies, that you are no longer passionate about? Don’t feel bad about cancelling something. It may have fulfilled you once, but you have outgrown it. Time to let go!
    • Remember that you don’t have to fill every minute of every day with activity. Downtime, simply being instead of doing, is good for the soul and slows down the overall pace of your life. You’ll suddenly find you’re much less busy and frantic, and find time for those things you actually want to do.