We talked Monday about how time management is kind of a waste of time and that it’s really all about examining your relationship to time and then finding ways to make that relationship work better.
Hmmm. Working on a relationship sounds kind of a lot of …. work. Which, I have to say, is not really all that appealing.
But it’s not like you and time need to go to couples counseling together. It’s not like you need to start spicing things up …. like opening the door to time while wearing only plastic wrap.
Though if you do end up doing that, you’ll have to tell us all about it. The public must know.
So. A few things that will help you improve your relationship with time …
1. Recognizing that it is a relationship.
Time is amorphous. It’s not this solid, dependable thing that always behaves a certain way, as Einstein kept pointing out.
Sometimes it goes quickly and sometimes interminably.
Sometimes you’re in the zone and everything works. Other times it’s more like you’re uh, shoveling shit against the tide (I’m channeling Richard Russo here).
*shakes fist at Richard Russo for not having a proper website to link to*
Either way, trying to whack time over the head in self-mastery mode just isn’t going to work. But neither is just letting time do its crazy flowing thing without being involved.
Remembering that you’re in a relationship with time brings you back to a point where you can take conscious, intentional steps to alter this relationship and improve it.
It brings you back to taking action. But not out of neediness. Out of love.
2. Relationships are about give and take.
Ebb and flow. Receiving and offering. Being strong and being vulnerable.
Sometimes you need to show up and make stuff happen. Sometimes you need to soften and let things run their course.
It’s not all about you and how you “manage” time. It’s about how you give yourself time to be in a conscious state of not-doing. Time and permission.
Sometimes it’s okay to be actively not-doing. In fact, every once in a while it’s even okay to just watch TV.
3. It’s not time out. It’s time on.
The time you take to not do is time you’re actually investing in building that healthier relationship with time. You’re working on that relationship.
And when you think about it all in terms of relationships, all your “productivity” techniques change. They have to.
4. The yoga of productivity.
Also known as: “Letting your productivity techniques get progressively more bizarre.”
Like I hinted at on Monday, yoga is actually a productivity technique. So are swimming and walking and riding your bike.
Because when you’re taking care of yourself, you get more done and you get it done better. Though I would argue that yoga is especially useful for improving productivity.
Because yoga is a practice of bringing conscious awareness to all of your patterns.
How you relate to yourself and to those around you. How you interact with your body, but also how you interact with things like space and time and love and money and the weather and everything else.
And because your relationship with your body is also a reflection of everything else you do.
As you become stronger in your body, you start to access more strengths in other parts of your life. As you become more flexible in your body, you get better at getting around roadblocks in other parts of your life.
So taking that half hour or an hour to do some yoga becomes much more than something you’re doing for your body or your physical health. It becomes more than something you’re doing to stay calm and focused.
It’s about your relationship to time and to your projects. And of course to yourself.
And the relationship, like all relationships, is about LOVE. And acknowledgment. And trust.
5. Love it up!
Be kind to time. Don’t always be making demands on it. Don’t always be guilting yourself into filling it. Or using it in a meaningful way.
Take conscious pauses. Give it its space. Treat it with respect. Take away some shoulds. Take a nap. Read a book. And when you need to get in the zone, do the things that help you get there fastest.
5. There’s a moral to this story somewhere.
At least I hope there is.
Three farmers are hanging out discussing their pig feeding techniques, as farmers like to do.
The first brags that his technique is the best: he lets his pig root around under the apple tree and eat old apples that have fallen to the ground. The second one says that actually his technique is better. What he does is take a stick to knock down apples from the tree for the pig to feed on.
But the third farmer is able to completely out-do both of the others. What he does, he explains, is to pick up the pig and hold it up to the tree at apple level so the pig can eat apples to his heart’s content.
The first two farmers are appalled. Isn’t that unbelievably time-consuming?
The third farmer looks at them and says, “Yeah, but what’s time to a pig?”
Moral of the story: don’t let Jewish vegetarians tell jokes about pigs. They’ll ruin it! Every single time.
But also that the funniest thing you can ever say to to yourself when you’re stressing yourself out over time is “What’s time to a pig?”
I promise that it will make you feel better. That might even be my primary mindful time management technique on some days. Works like a charm.
I hope you’re not expecting a conclusion or anything.
Time is not something to manage. It’s something to relate to and learn from and love. It’s a relationship.
And like all relationships it needs some attention so that it can feed you and replenish you instead of draining you and exhausting you.
That’s my plan, at any rate.