The Time Queen

Time management expert Robyn Pearce looks at how to get the most out of life.

Robyn Pearce: Learn to live in the moment and your minutes will stretch

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Try to develop awareness of what's going on around you, instead of always thinking about the past and worrying about the future. Photo / Thinkstock
Try to develop awareness of what's going on around you, instead of always thinking about the past and worrying about the future. Photo / Thinkstock

It seems to me that society's got the speed wobbles, and each of us has a responsibility to not allow it to happen, at least to ourselves. And as we take control of our own situation, that in turn has a ripple effect on society. Each action means something on the wider platform of life.

You might like to try one or more of these six strategies.

1. Be present in the moment
Mindful attention lets life pour in. Develop true awareness of what's going on around you, instead of always thinking about the past and worrying about the future (even a future of the next 30 minutes). Empty yourself of busyness. Take a minute and just look deeply at a flower, a tree, a leaf, or maybe the sunset. Don't think about anything else.

Even just sitting with your eyes shut for one whole minute - noticing your body, your environment, how the chair under you feels, listening to the sounds around - is powerful.

2. Boundaried time
Chunk out an hour a day, (if possible, but even 30 minutes is better than nothing) to do with as you wish.

This is a powerful sanity gap - puts the juice back in the tank! Most people will create this by getting up an hour earlier.

It's not a chance to get a jumpstart on the emails, or the day's work. You may choose to read, exercise, meditate, pray, potter in the garden, do something creative, or nothing - it's your choice, your gift to yourself - by yourself.

3. Spontaneous time
Here's a tip from an attendee at one of my speeches. Every six weeks or so, her family had a 'free weekend'. Anything that needed doing before the beginning of the following week (such as food shopping) was handled on the Thursday night. Then, on Friday night after they'd all arrived home from work or school (it worked when their children were at home as well as after they'd left the nest), they went into 'spontaneous time'.

'What shall we do this weekend?' was the question.

Sometimes they'd stay home and just chill out - no work, no duties or obligations. Other times they'd get in the car and just drive, stopping when they felt like it, staying overnight if they wanted to. She said it was a most freeing experience.

Some people would think that was too organised. Others might say that every weekend should be like that. (They haven't got school age children if they say such a thing, I'm sure all the parents reading this will agree!) The reality is, time slides by unmarked, or crowded with 'busy stuff', if we don't put some structure around it.

This lady highlighted a profound principle - from a small amount of structure and planning comes a great amount of freedom.

4. Honour the mundane
Many of us begrudge doing mundane tasks like the dishes and housework. Instead of doing it with your attention everywhere else, and wishing you could get it done faster, focus on the task, do it to perfection and enjoy the physical experience.

For instance, doing dishes is a chance to be grateful for the food, to send loving thoughts to the loved ones you've cooked for (if it was a shared meal), to be thankful for the hundreds (if not thousands) of people whose labour has contributed to the ingredients arriving safely in your kitchen, and even the hot water to get the job done quickly. (Millions of people around the world barely have plates to eat off, let alone nice crockery and hot water to clean them).

5. Create rituals
It's anything that puts a framework around a parcel of time. Just two examples:

1. Give thanks or grace before a meal
2. Spend 10 or 15 minutes with your loved one's when everyone is home and before you get into the night's routines.

6. Monitor your language
How many times do you hear yourself say, 'I'm so busy', or 'I'm out of time', or 'There's never enough hours in the day'?

Change your language. This kind of statement only locks you into more of the same. I've now started saying, 'I'm as busy as I want to be', rather than 'I'm so busy' or 'too busy'. Why should being too busy be a badge of honour? Wrong honour, it seems to me! And who else cares anyway!

Final thoughts
All or any of these techniques will help you break the frenetic rhythm that so much of life seems to consist of these days.

There is enough time to do the things that really matter; there is plenty of it. It's all in the choices, in what we put first. Let's get off the speed trap and control our perceptions, language and behaviour around time, instead of letting other peoples' rhythms, perceptions and language control us.


Robyn Pearce (known as the Time Queen) runs an international time management and productivity business, based in New Zealand. Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at gettingagrip.com.

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