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The simple truth is that how we use the time we’re privileged to enjoy defines our lives. It goes much deeper than just collecting tick marks on to-do lists and goes to the heart of our relationship with time.
We all play a host of roles in life (in my case father, husband, business owner, friend, neighbour, volunteer, coach, researcher…..) and each has its own complex relationship with time. Some are more about “doing” and allow for planning, productivity and efficiency. Time gets sliced and diced. Others are more about “being” and are based on me being wholly present to those around me in that moment. Clock time can even fall away.
As we go through life those roles and the related identities come and go, become stronger and weaker, impacting our experience of time as they do. For example, busyness in work can bleed into home life and impact the relationship with family members. It can mean we compress the time spent with kids, parents, friends or even the world. That can lead to lasting impact on relationships.
It can thus be helpful to reflect on who is in control of our time in each identity. For most people, clients might have some say in how you organise your day but boundaries can be established. Many are seeing the benefit of allowing more focus time in which to slow down and reflect (ideal for creative work) or power through tasks requiring more concentration. Empowering your team members to take more control of their time is thus key to both enhanced productivity and creativity.
The extent to which we give away control of our time can be quite insidious. Take, for example, the quip from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray: Punctuality is the thief of time. You may need to read it a couple of times for it to sink in. Many cultures obviously prize punctuality and I am not suggesting you arrive late for your next business meeting.
It is interesting, however, to reflect on the deeper message. If you are constantly rushing about in service of others are you truly serving your own needs? While we are certainly adept at sabotaging our own needs, most of the calls on our time come from our interaction with the world so it is very important to look at the environments and “systems” in which we operate.