• 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.
  • Language, Please!

    language

    In 2001, when I first learned about the law of attraction and the power of focusing on the positive, I was less than thrilled at the prospect of having to control my thoughts. If you consider that a human being has an estimated 50,000 thoughts every single day, you’ll realise that policing every one of them would be a 24/7 job.
     

    Fortunately, there are shortcuts to mastering the thought process, and the single most effective of these is language. There’s a reason why psychologists tell you to eliminate negative self-talk if you want to improve your self-confidence – language simply is that powerful.
     

    In fairy tales and folk myths, you’ll often have a sorcerer or a witch who alters the course of the hero or heroine’s life with a single word or curse. Another word or spell can set things to rights again just as easily. Rumpelstiltsken is undone by someone knowing his name, only one single word!
     

    As with all folk tales, there’s a kernel of truth buried in the fiction. If people truly understood the power of language, everyone would dedicate a fair amount of energy to learning about it. In order to give you a head start, I’m going to show you how to use the power of language and the law of attraction when it comes to the two most frequent obstacles to increasing your happiness and pursuing your passions: time and money.
     
     

     
     

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    Words of power: Time Management

     

    We may not realise it, but we all have our own stories and beliefs around time. In our day and age, most people’s “time stories” revolve around never having enough time, or running out of time. Our lives are so crammed full of responsibilities, distractions, and opportunities, it seems like 24 hours per day can never be enough.
     

    In his book The Big Leap (I know I keep recommending this, but it really is that good!), Gay Hendricks introduces a concept he calls “Einstein Time”. Basically, it’s about the realisation that time is a man-made construct. Time exists because we say it exists, and it’s anything but logical and predictable. We all know that “time flies when you’re having fun” and also that half an hour can seem like an eternity for a bored student or employee.
     

    You can make language work for you in time management. Here are three steps to take:
     

    • Observe language around time for a day or two. You’ll be surprised at how often you or somebody else say they’re “busy” or “must dash”, or similar.
    • Think of ways to express these situations without mentioning or implying busy-ness. Try: “I’m off to xyz” or: “I’ve got a few interesting projects going on”.
    • Now that you’ve defused the “busy language”, you can re-assert your control over time. Think of statements you consciously want to use in future, such as: “I am taking the time to…”, “Today, I’ve decided to spend time on …”

     

    Words of power: Money Management

     

    When it comes to money, most people think of either frugality or a positive mindset. The latter in particular can be a challenge, especially if you’re paying off a mortgage or a loan, and/or never quite make enough money to live your dreams. Simply thinking “I’m rich” will feel like a lie, and any intelligent, honest person will resist doing this.
     

    Instead, may I suggest simply adjusting the way you talk about money? Here are your three steps for this one:
     

    • Become aware of how often you or others talk about money in scarcity language, using expressions like “I’m broke,” or “I can’t afford it”.
    • Find alternative expressions for these, such as: “It’s not in my budget,” or “I choose to spend my money elsewhere this month/year”.
    • Now, insert positive statements about money into your language: “I’m so glad that’s done!” after you’ve paid a bill (instead of resenting it), or: “It feels good to be secure,” after your salary or any kind of payment comes in.

     

    Playful language

     

    The key to all this is to view it as a game, rather than a chore. Play around with language. Challenge yourself to use one of your new, empowering phrases around time or money twice or three times every day for the coming week, and reward yourself at the end of each day you’ve managed to do it.
     

    These processes may take a while, but after a few weeks, your new language will come to you easily. And then you’ll be ready to reap the rewards! Brace yourself, because the law of attraction may just blow your mind.

  • Your Priorities Aren’t What You Think

    Sunny hillside, wild money, wild spirit

    It’s clear that we aren’t always free to choose our priorities exactly how we want them. If we could, every loved-up couple would spend all their time together and hardly anyone would turn up to work anymore. However, we do have control over our lives and therefore it’s worth it to take a look at our actions versus our intentions.

    In the following, I’m going to help you gain clarity about your own, deepest priorities in life. If it turns out they aren’t aligned with your life situation, I’m also going to suggest steps to take towards balancing priorities with the demands of life.

    Let’s dive in.
     
     

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    Open a new text document, or if you prefer, take out pen and paper. I would like you to take five minutes to write down your priorities. Be sure not to write what you think is expected of you (family, kids and so forth feature on most people’s lists, but please don’t put down anything just because you feel it’s “the right thing” to focus on). Nobody will see this list apart from you, so be completely honest with yourself.
     

    I suggest you start out by brainstorming anything that’s important to you without regard to the order in which you write them down. Once your list is complete, you can try ranking it. You should end up with at least five items (there might be as many as 15, or more) saying anything from “my husband” to “table tennis” and “time spent alone in nature”. Don’t forget to include worldly matters like success in your job or making money.
     
     

    The moment of truth

     

    Next, start a new page and write two more lists:
     

    1. A list of the things you spend money on each month.
    2. A list of where you spend your time every day and week.
     

    Number 2 requires some detail: How many of your weekly waking hours do you spend at work, doing housework, chauffeuring your kids, following your passions, with loved ones, exercising, etc etc? Rank this list, too, and the money list, by largest amounts of time respectively money spent. Now compare these two lists to your list of priorities, the one you wrote out first. What do you see?
     
     

    Your result and what to do about it

     

    They say, “money talks”. I say, yes it does, and time talks, too. What does your comparison reveal? Do you spend your money and your time where your heart lies? Or is your life out of alignment with your goals? The truth is that your priorities are wherever you spend your money and your time. It’s good and well to protest that other things are more important to you – as long as your actions, your life, don’t reflect this, your “priorities” remain pretty words.
     

    This may sound harsh, especially since there are realities in life we all face, such as having to pay rent or a mortgage, and needing money for food. Like I said at the beginning of this article, most of us have obligations we cannot simply break free of, especially since they often affect other people in our lives as well, such as children or other family members.
     

    At the same time, it’s still possible to align your life with what matters to you. Work and obligations only take up so much time. The rest of your day is up to you. You may argue that you’re tired in the evenings, but does TV really refresh you or is it just convenient? Look over your list again and find the time- and money-wasters. If you are serious about putting your money (and time) where your heart is, you’re going to have to learn money management as well as time management and be ruthless with anything that keeps you from living the way you want to.
     

    It’s quite a process, and I gently suggest you get some support in the form of a buddy, a mastermind group, or a Coach. Your life is your own, and it’s up to you to shape it into a form you love! Otherwise, what’s the point? The effort is always worth it.