I spent a lot of my time trying to manage time. I read books about managing time. I had private sessions on managing time.
The only problem: I still didn’t feel like I had enough time
If the framework you are functioning in doesn’t work for you, that is, it doesn’t allow you to succeed, then change the framework! So I’ve thrown out working in the managing time framework. What I replaced it with works much better.
Managing time is like managing waves in the ocean. The waves just keep coming no matter how much you try to manage them, and time keeps going. When I was younger, I used to get overwhelmed a lot. I would feel the pressures of deadlines, and getting everything done that needed to be done. When I would discuss it with my spiritual teacher and boss, John-Roger (J-R), he would tell me, “Just do what’s in front of you to do.” It was simple, yet true. I would do that, but because I was still relating to the idea of time, eventually I would get overwhelmed again. As I got older, still trying to manage time, I found that the thing I seemed to lack most was time. The time to do all that I wanted to do.
Recently, I had a realization that rather than manage time, I will manage my energy. As my friend and teacher, J-R, got into the latter years of his life, I noticed that he was much more ruthless with what he got involved in and where he put his energy. His body no longer had the luxury of youth, and so out of necessity he cut away involvement in engagements, decisions and even conversations that weren’t the most important use of his energy. In a way, what I have done is to apply the lesson in my observation.
Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short in all management of human affairs. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now, instead of thinking in the concept of time, I think in the concept of energy. Where does my energy go? It goes where I focus. So, now I choose what I will focus on. In terms of how that works in my everyday life, each day I look at all that I can do, all that’s on my to do list, and decide what on my list (or something not on my list) is the most important place for me to put my focus and thus my energy. In terms of my business, that would be to look at what is the most important thing for me to put my energy into in alignment with the goals of my business. When I decide what that is, I focus on those things until completion.
Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus. – Alexander Graham Bell
Since I am managing my energy rather than time, I find that small distractions can take more energy than they are worth, and so I keep my focus on what I’m doing. I batch the little administrative items to a time in my schedule, and put my energy into them and focus on them until completion when that is important.
Obviously, I still schedule things, and have a to do list. But my schedule is no longer about managing time, but selecting a time for meetings and a time for important things for me to put my energy into. My energy management is the focus, and scheduling my time is a tool.
What’s amazing now, is that, as long as I don’t move back into the “managing time” framework, I seem to have plenty of time to do everything that is important. Time now takes care of itself. It seems to manage itself just fine, just like the ocean manages the waves. Time manages itself far better than I ever could.
I also find that I am living in the present much more. I can only use my energy to do things in the moment. The only place we can actually do, the only time in which we can take action is in the present moment. In this moment I can choose what to focus on, and there my energy will go. I can think and feel about the past and future, but I can only think, feel and do in the present.
Here is the prime condition of success. Concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. – Andrew Carnegie
So, if like me, you haven’t been able to manage time or always feel like you don’t have enough of it, try instead to manage your energy by choosing where you place your focus.