Time is something that fascinates us. Songs have been written about it; movies have been made about traveling back or forward in time. Books have been written on how to manage time, get more out of your day and provide tips on how to maximize our time.
We are obsessed with time.
However, there is one thing that holds true when it comes to time. We are all bound by it and it is one thing that we all, as humans, have in common. No matter what our social status, our corporate rank, or the size of our bank account, we are all confined by time – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 168 hours per week. Nothing, despite what we hope for or desire, will change that.
Yet, despite this immutable law, it has not changed our attempts to try and manipulate time and wring every ounce of it out of a day. Yet in our attempts to get the most out of time, we get less out of it and do little to enhance the value of the 24 hours we have each day.
Here are a few of the ways we decrease the value of our time and ways I believe we can change that.
I am terrible at multitasking. If I am speaking and trying to do something at the same time, inevitably my thought process goes off track and unknowingly I pause my speech. This is why my kids affectionately call me a “pause talker”.
While I know I am no good at multitasking, I have encountered many who laud their ability to multitask as a way to get more things done in a given amount of time. However, over the last number of years, multiple studies have reported that this is simply not true with some researchers suggesting up to a 40% drop in productivity.
Multitasking may make us feel like we are getting more done with our time, however we will get more more when we center our focus.
We Steal It
With time being finite we have to spend it wisely, yet when 70% of working Americans say that work-life balance is elusive, we must ask if we are being wise at all?
Our weeks should consist of tending to our holistic well being, our relationships, our work, etc. Yet we are increasingly seeing Americans spend more time at work which means we are stealing from other areas of our lives.
Overall, as a country, all aspects of our health are declining. Virtually half of Americans state they feel alone and we have an opioid crisis that is only continuing to get worse. Obesity is now considered a chronic disease by the American Medical Association and connected relationships are scarce as according to Cigna, 46% of Americans state they do not have meaningful human interaction on a daily basis.
While these statistics are startling, they are not surprising as we cannot expect to steal time from these things that are life-giving, put it into our work and not have the other areas break down.
This is why I am so tired of the hustle message that is roared and paraded on social media as if our time should be spent working and that is the only road to success. We, of course, should work hard, but we need to also spend equal if not more time on our own selves and our relationships as we will get more value from them.
We Abuse It
A friend of mine recently posted on their Facebook about the 17 hour days they had been working and how exhausted they were as a result. While anyone working 17 hours days would, of course, hit a wall, I can assure you this person was not working this entire time. I have seen first hand how this individual approaches work. The workday includes breaks to take a walk, times to check-in and post on their personal social media, time to connect with friends and run errands.
I am not saying any of these things are bad, but they are an abuse of the time you are allocating to your work and certainly void of any kind of boundary setting that will enable one to get the most value from their work time.
We cannot expect to get our work done, get the most from our relationships or our health if we are continually interrupting the time we have set aside to do any of these things.
In his book Rest, author Alex Soojun-Kim Pang shares this quote from Charles Darwin which was taken from a letter he wrote to his sister, “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
May we discover the value of time and in do doing, experience the beauty and value we can get from this life.