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time management

clockMy ideal work day begins something like this: wake-up, meditate for 20 minutes, exercise, shower and dress, have coffee and breakfast, pack lunch, hit the road and arrive at my branch with a few minutes to spare. In actuality, even though I truly am a morning person, there are plenty of mornings when some of this, or maybe most of this, doesn’t happen. Obviously, I’m going to show up for work but many have been the mornings when something else simply has to give.

I’m trying to practice compassion these days, and that includes compassion for self, so I try not to give myself grief, but I do sometimes wonder about the nature of time and why there never seems to be quite enough of it. I mean couldn’t it maybe just, I don’t know, stretch a little bit? Of course, to some degree, time is a relative concept. I used to work in an office with a man who was constantly pointing out that, because he set his watch by Greenwich Mean Time, he was the only person in the office who could possibly know what time it “really” was. Obviously, this became tiresome and most of us stopped listening to him altogether. I’ve wondered since if he ever learned that Coordinated Universal Time replaced Greenwich Mean as the global standard long ago. I imagine him on his way somewhere secure in the certainty of being “on time” when actually he is running a minute “late,” and I find myself wanting to snicker in a gloating manner. But I am trying to practice compassion now, so I don’t.

Still, although you and I could have a protracted discussion about whether or not the current time is 2:11 or 2:14, I think we would probably agree that the sun rises but once in 24 hours and sets the same. I mean as an observable phenomenon. Except then you might start pondering the question of what an hour actually is. Is it something materially real or simply a human concept? Except plants and animals seem to follow patterns based on light and dark, don’t they? Before you know it, you might find yourself tangled up in some sort of philosophical knot that would probably be fun to unravel on paper or in a classroom setting but probably doesn’t give you a lot of practical guidance in daily life.potter

So what’s a time-stretched person to do? Well, you can’t conjure up a forty-eight hour day and, unless you move in very different social circles from me, you won’t be deploying a Time Turner like Hermione Granger did in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Ultimately, time-management is self-management and DCPL has resources to help you with that.

A classic of its kind is David Allen’s Getting Things Done: the art of stress-free productivity. Slanted more towards increasing productivity at work, Allen’s methods (surprisingly basic) can certainly carry over into other aspects of life. Allen recommends writing everything down and dating the note and this simple step, mindthough not actually easy to make a habit, might just make all the difference for you.

If you suspect that part of the problem for you might be the onslaught of information that we are all exposed to day after day, and seemingly minute by minute, you might check out The Organized Mind: thinking straight in the age of information overload by Daniel Levitin. Levitin mixes neuroscience scholarship with practical guidelines for organizing information. Levitin, who is also the author of This Is Your Your Brain On Music: the science of a human obsession, is always an tidyingengaging writer and, who knows, you might be able to figure out why you keep misplacing your keys.

…and speaking of keys, my own method consists of always, and I mean always, putting them back in the same place. I have praised before Marie Kondo’s quirky, and for me very useful, book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up . Allow me do so again. One of the best tips that I learned from Kondo is to empty my purse every time I get home. Now, this might sounds ridiculous – a big waste of time – but I’m telling you that this one little habit has made a huge difference in keeping me organized and collected on a daily basis.

organizedSometimes being a good steward of our time means knowing what to let go and Organized Enough: the anti-perfectionists guide to getting and staying organized by Amanda Sullivan can help you with that. Sullivan is a witty writer and the conversational tone of her book will draw you in while really practical advice will help you manage your things, your time and your life without driving yourself straight up the nearest wall.  After all, sometimes good enough is just fine.

 

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