On Time

2 min read
6 September 2011

In the last four months, I have run many workshops, many coaching sessions and travelled many miles. In the middle of all this, I realised that when I hit the pillow at night my usual writing was not being done. It was then, when I decided that although it would be nice to have more hours in the day, I was unable to fulfill so many duties. So I decided not to worry & do the best I can.

The topic of “time” is really interesting. All of us have 24 hours per day. Some people seem to stretch themselves in multiple directions and achieve a lot. Others procrastinate, take a long time to do something and time is never enough.

Then, there are those who have their days full of meetings, appointments and are surrounded by people all the time, leaving them little time to respond to emails and do “thinking” work. And then there is a group of people who have lots of time in their hands and do little with it.

I still remember the days when people used to say that technology would free us to do more leisure activities. This may be the case for some, for others the amount of emails and texts seem to be the reason for them not to have a moment for relaxation and planning. Neuroscience is showing that spending too much time texting and social networking is leading to attention problems and is causing difficulties communicating face-to-face.

While sitting at a coffee shop in Perth two weeks ago, I spent some time observing a 5 years old child having a drink with her mother and friend. The girl spent nearly an hour playing with her small game device while the two women chatted away non-stop.

Her eyes were focused on the screen and she hardly drank her hot chocolate. No eye contact, no interaction with her mother, no questions asked, no answers received. When they decided they had enough, they stood up and indicated to the girl with a gesture that it was time to leave.

As a parent that concerned me. What type of brain connections is this little girl developing if her only focus is on the device? What are the consequences when she grows up and she has to interact with teachers, students, customers and peers?

Having conducted several workshops for an organisation from the telecommunications industry recently, it was sad for me to see that the level of concentration and attention in some of the participants was extremely limited.

There was this need to continuously look at their phones and respond to messages and emails as they came through. In comparison, while doing the same work with a government organisation, participants were more relaxed and hardly anyone looked at their mobiles while we were at the session.

Knowing that constantly looking at your device (whatever it is) makes you more addictive to it, reduces your cognitive capacity and increases stress levels, no wonder why the biggest issue for most people (particularly those working for fast-paced organisations) is the lack of time. “I am very busy” has become the favourite and most repeated mantra in any conversation.

The question for you, the reader, is:  How does being “very busy” make you more productive, more social, more balanced?

Better thinking, better decision making and better planning never happen when you are “very busy”. If you have no time for you, your family, or friends and all you are doing is running around incessantly, then it is time for you to revise your day, your priorities and to learn how to do less to have more time.

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