How much time have you got?

As our professional and personal lives become more complex and the speed at which things happen increases, authors and consultants have made fortunes out of time management, teaching people how to better manage their time.

Business people tell us, “Time is money,” and that you’ve got to make the most of the time you have, and few people want to “waste time” on people or things that they do not deem to be important to them.

What should our attitude to time be in a world that is becoming ever more time-sensitive?

Let’s consider three myths about time …

Before we consider certain time related myths, we need to acknowledge a key home truth about time – that we are all given the same amount of time in our day. Whether we are the most powerful or the wealthiest person in the world, or a homeless, unemployed person with no material possessions to our names, we get the same number of seconds, minutes and hours in our day as everybody else – no more, no less.

There are no favourites when it comes to the allocation of time we are all given in our day. It’s however what we DO with the time we’re given that determines what we become, what we create and/or what we achieve. What do you do with your time? Are you using your time creatively – to create a better reality for yourself and your loved ones, or are you allowing it to slip through your fingers?

The first myth about time is that it can be managed. Managing time implies that we have some sort of control over time. We don’t have. The clock ticks on regardless of what we think, say or do. The important lesson for us is that we only have control over the choices we make as to what to do with our time.

It boils down to the old truth of managing what you can control and not what you can’t control. Focus therefore on the choices you make in the time you are given rather than on time itself. As you improve the choices you make as to what to do with the time you have at your disposal, you will be able to prioritise better and get done important things that need to be done first.  

The second myth about time is that we can save time. Saving time means storing it up for use at a later stage. Everyone knows it’s just plain silly to think like that. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can actually save any time. Once it has passed, it’s gone for ever.

You might think you can do things quicker and/or more efficiently and that will save time, but that’s simply using your time more effectively so you can get more done in the time you’ve been given. You haven’t “saved” any time for a later stage.

That brings us to another point – that we need to recognise that the only place we can genuinely live is in the present.

No-one can live in the past. While you may choose to focus on events and memories from the past, you are still confined to living in the present. By focusing on past events, however, you are simply robbing yourself of the opportunities that the present offers you. By focusing on the future, you also rob yourself of the power you have in the present.

When the present moment has passed, you are left with regret because you never used the time appropriately.

The third myth is that “time is money”. Time is not money – it is life itself. When your money runs out, there will probably be opportunities to get more money. When your time finally runs out, your life’s over and you can never buy, borrow or get more time. That’s it.

So, treat your time like the precious commodity it is. Use it wisely. Make good choices as to what you do with your professional and personal time and, when you finally run out of time, you will have very few, if any, regrets!      

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag. He assists executives to develop new generation leadership skills, manage their age as an asset, and achieve self-mastery so that they can lead with greatness and agility in an increasingly disruptive world.

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