How to control your time, Part 1
Let's will look at how our nature towards inactivity and distractibility gets in our way. Simply put, how we manage (or probably mismanage) our time.
For many, the word “manage” denotes following rules and being controlled. For countless adults, being managed is being told what to do. Who wants to be told what to do? I would like to look at this differently.
The word “manage” means: To direct or control the use of. In this chapter we are going to focus on self-direct and self-control. We are going to learn how to control time and use it, versus being controlled by it and subservient to it.
British academic and writer, C.S. Lewis wrote,
The Future is something which everyone reaches at a rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
This may seem like a basic truism, but most people lie to themselves about this fact. Let’s separate fact from fiction.
The Fact: We calculate time on planet Earth based on our planet’s rotation. One day equals 24 hours. One hour equals sixty minutes. One minute equals sixty seconds. If you do the math, there are 86,400 seconds in a day - everyday. No more, no less. Everyone gets the same amount. 86,400 little parts of every single day. [60 seconds X 60 minutes X 24 hours/day= 86,400 seconds.]
But: Some people get a lot more done in 86,400 seconds than other people get done.
Why: The simple answer: choice. Most people choose to waste time and they do it by not paying attention to their lives or by lying to themselves about time. Let’s look at how we lie to ourselves.
There are three major lies we use to trick ourselves concerning time.
Ever find yourself saying, “I’ll do it later”? This assumes that later has more time in it than now. Somehow, in your future you have this large chunk of time sitting around waiting for you to catch up to it and use it. My friend Snyder often jokes, “I’ll do it in my spare time or my extra time.” She is joking about the fact that there is no “extra time” or “spare time.” There are only 86,400 seconds in our day. You can’t save it up for later. You can’t buy more from a clock shop. You can’t find more under the bed or in the pocket of an old pair of jeans (which are probably under your bed).
It is important to know that you have only so much time. Time may be infinite, but you are not. You may live 80 years, which is a lot in comparison to the average housefly. But, 80 years is pretty much nothing in the existence of a small class M planet circling around a nothing-small yellow star in the dull outer corner of the cosmos. Your life goes by with or without you paying attention.
Recently, my fourteen-year-old son announced, “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do!” I did my dad thing and asked, “What do you want to do?” “I dunno, everything is boring.” he said as he flopped hopelessly onto the couch. “I know,” he continued. “Life can’t be boring, only people can be boring.” He knows me so well. He used my line before I got to. But, life can’t be boring, it just is. What you do with life is what makes it boring or exciting. So, if someone is bored, I’m sure they are boring. They need to do something.
If you are unconscious about time it simply ticks away. It doesn’t care about anything. It just is. What makes time valuable is what you do with it.
In our society we punish criminals by making them “waste” time. We put them in jail. We give them boredom as a punishment. I often see people who place themselves in self-imposed jails of thought in which their life goes by with little self-awareness or personal growth. What a waste. Personally, during the big dirt nap I’ll waste all the time I could ever wish to waste. While I’m alive, I want to live.
Caring about time has to be a conscious choice.
You can’t take a jar of time and put it on a shelf for a later date. Everyday you get your allotment of 86,400 seconds. What you do with it is your choice. Use it wisely or not, at the end of 86,400 seconds the day is over and you’re onto your next allotment. What most people mean when they say “saving time” is that they want to do something in less time, leaving more time to do something else.
I find myself trying to “sleep fast” so I can get onto my next set of 86,400 seconds. I don’t want to use a lot of seconds sleeping, even though I know that without quality sleep, my awake time is less fulfilling.
I want to drive the shortest way most of the time, so I have time to do something else with the time “saved” from driving the long way. All this word play really means is that I want to get the most done in the shortest amount of time so I can still do more. What we are talking about is efficiency.
The word efficient comes from the old English word, dhe that means, “do.” So for a really long time, humans have known that you have to do to get anything done (your ancestors were brilliant). Once you understand that you need to do, the problem becomes how. What are the ways to do things more efficiently? This will be discussed later, but first let’s focus on what to avoid; how to protect ourselves from the dreaded Time Bandits in How to control your time, Part 2.