Shreds & Patches of Time

You’ve heard all the old expressions before. Time is on your side, playing with time, one day at a time, out of time, lost track of time, or time and tide wait for no man. Human beings are obsessed with time. They want to use it to advantage, save it, waste it; some even have the desire to travel back in it.

What you hear most often however, is the lament that we don’t have enough of it, and should learn to manage it better. It goes without saying that time is one of our most precious resources. Lost time can never be regained. Horace Mann said it best. “Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.”

Time management is a popular business buzz phrase these days. Everyone seems to carry around some tool to help them manage their time more profitably. They all seem to have a Day Runner, or for the technologically more advanced of us, it would be the Blackberry. All in a futile effort to control the time allotted to us each day.

In this age of super productivity, everyone thinks they must get the most out of every minute, in every situation. As people fly from one obligation to another, that’s the catchphrase you hear most often. “I just don’t have enough time to accomplish everything I want to do.” “There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.” Where does the time go? H. Jackson Brown, Jr. told us to never say we don’t have enough time; that we have exactly the same number of hours each day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.

The Spanish have a proverb that says, “Time is short, but wide.” That simply means the time is there available to us all, it’s what we do with it that matters. We might be missing the mark however, when it comes to managing time. It’s not how much we can cram into each hour of each day. The point is to use the time wisely. That doesn’t necessarily mean making a list and spending the day, ticking off each item on that list.

Making the most of your day depends on what’s important to you, what matters in the long run, not how many items you check off your to-do list. It has to do with your core beliefs. You can learn to run around and accomplish many, many tasks in the course of a day, or a week, or a month, or a year. However, if it’s not really important to you, for your life, you’ve just wasted that time.

In addition, it’s important that you don’t lose time. Isaac Asimov said, “Never lose time. You can replace money, if you lose your wallet. You can buy a new typewriter if your home is ransacked. You can marry again if a divorce overtakes you. But that minute that has vanished unnecessarily will never come back, and what’s more, it was the best minute you will ever have, for all future minutes will come when you are older and more nearly worn out.”

It’s important that you don’t waste time doing something that is basically worthless to you and your beliefs. Time can’t be saved, like so many pennies in a piggy bank. Everything you do requires some time out of your life; how do you want to spend yours?

Does it seem like everyone is demanding of your time, to the extent that it feels like your time is not your own? It’s not so much a matter of managing your time as reclaiming it for yourself, or at least a small portion of it.

Maybe it’s time to take stock of the situation. The only way you can add time to your schedule is by removing another activity from it. Therefore, what it comes down to are priorities. If you only have time for a few things, it’s imperative that you decide what’s important and what isn’t.

Sit down and decide right now what’s important to you. What are your goals for your family, your work or your business, your future, your personal development? You can’t possibly set a schedule until you know all this. When it comes to something extremely important to your life, you don’t find the time for it, you make the time.

Take a look at your to-do list. Seem too full to you, like you couldn’t possibly add one single thing to it? Look again; you’re sure to find items that really aren’t all that important, in the long run. Maybe you could delegate a few items to someone else, or just drop them altogether. Think about the big picture. Are those things going to be so important to anyone in say five years, or ten?

It’s a big decision to use that minute or that hour for something important or to waste that time and never have it back. Ask yourself what’s important to you.

In closing, let me leave you with a poem by Dr. Benjamin E. Mays-

You only have a minute
Only sixty seconds in it
Forced upon you, can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
But, it’s up to you to use it.
You must suffer if you lose it.
Give account if you abuse it.
It’s just a tiny little minute,
But your whole future is in it.

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