11 February 2013

Society’s Got The Speed Wobbles, And How To Fix It

Some years ago I had the privilege of speaking to 100 Adventist School Principals from all around the Pacific.

As I listened to Barry, one of the first speakers, say ‘Neglect yourself emotionally and you become toxic’, I had to agree. It led neatly to one the topics I was about to speak to them about – what I call Sanity Gaps – the piece that’s missing from the lives of people who burn out. (And that used to be me in years gone by, which is why I’m so passionate about the whole subject of time choices.)

In preparation for my session with the principals, just north of Brisbane, I’d re-read a great book, and I highly recommend it – Stephan Rechtschaffen’s ‘Time Shifting’, Rider, 1996. Stephan talks a lot about the rhythm of society and how we have to break the ‘entrainment’ of everyday happenings in order to reconnect with ourselves, to give our neurology time to process and integrate information, and to allow our spirit space to flourish.

Something said by a lady in a public course in Auckland the week before had also framed this.

Wistfully she’d said, ‘When the children were at home we were busy, but we seemed to have time to enjoy life. Now they’re gone, there’s only my husband and I at home, we’ve got all the mod cons that are supposed to save time, and yet we feel as if we never catch up – there’s just too much to do and not enough hours in which to do it. Why is that?’

It seems to me that society’s got the speed wobbles, and each of us has a responsibility to not allow it to happen, at least to ourselves. And as we take control of our own situation, that in turn has a ripple effect on society. Each action means something on the wider platform of life.

Here are six strategies I shared with my Adventist friends. If you’re feeling that life has become too fast for you, you might also like to try them.

1. Be present in the moment
Mindful attention lets life pour in. Develop true awareness of what’s going on around you, instead of always thinking about the past and worrying about the future (even a future of the next 30 minutes). Empty yourself of busyness. Take a minute and just look deeply at a flower, a tree, a leaf, or maybe the sunset. Don’t think about anything else.

Even just sitting with your eyes shut for one whole minute – noticing your body, your environment, how the chair under you feels, listening to the sounds around – is powerful. I had the principals do it – the look of bliss on some of their faces was beautiful to behold.

2. Boundaried time
Chunk out an hour a day, (if possible, but even 30 minutes is better than nothing) to do with as you wish.

This is a powerful sanity gap – puts the juice back in the tank! Most people will create this by getting up an hour earlier (it’s the time of day I do my best creative work, and why I’ve been so productive with my writing over the last few years.)

It’s not a chance to get a jumpstart on the emails, or the day’s work. You may choose to read, exercise, meditate, pray, potter in the garden, do something creative, or nothing – it’s your choice, your gift to yourself – by yourself.

3. Spontaneous time
Another speech attendee some years ago shared a great strategy. Every six weeks or so, the family had a ‘free weekend’. Anything that needed doing before the beginning of the following week (such as food shopping) was handled on the Thursday night. Then, on Friday night after they’d all arrived home from work or school (it worked when their children were at home as well as after they’d left the nest), they went into ‘spontaneous time’.

‘What shall we do this weekend?’ was the question.

Sometimes they’d stay home and just chill out – no work, no duties or obligations. Other times they’d get in the car and just drive, stopping when they felt like it, staying overnight if they wanted to. She said it was a most freeing experience.

Some people would think that was too organised. Others might say that every weekend should be like that. (They haven’t got school age children if they say such a thing, I’m sure all the parents reading this will agree!) The reality is, time slides by unmarked, or crowded with ‘busy stuff’, if we don’t put some structure around it.

This lady highlighted a profound principle – out of structure and planning comes freedom.

4. Honour the mundane
Many of us begrudge doing mundane tasks like the dishes and housework. Instead of doing it with your attention everywhere else, and wishing you could get it done faster, focus on the task, do it to perfection, and enjoy the physical experience.

For instance, doing dishes is a chance to be grateful for the food, to send loving thoughts to the loved ones you’ve cooked for (if it was a shared meal), to be thankful for the hundreds (if not thousands) of people whose labour has contributed to the ingredients arriving safely in your kitchen, and even the hot water to get the job done quickly. (Millions of people around the world barely have plates to eat off, let alone nice crockery and hot water to clean them).

5. Create rituals
This could be thanks or grace before a meal; 10 or 15 minutes with your loved one when you both get home, and before you get into the night’s routines. It’s anything that puts a framework around a parcel of time.

6. Monitor your language
How many times do you hear yourself say, ‘I’m so busy’, or ‘I’m out of time’, or ‘There’s never enough hours in the day’?

Change your language. This kind of statement only locks you into more of the same. I’ve now started saying, ‘I’m as busy as I want to be’, rather than ‘I’m so busy’ or ‘too busy’. Why should being too busy be a badge of honour? Wrong honour, it seems to me! And who else cares anyway!

Final thoughts

All or any of these techniques will help you break the frenetic rhythm that so much of life seems to consist of these days.

And to put a final spin on it, following is a snippet I read in a book about the slave abolitionist movement of America – ‘Beyond the River – the untold story of the heroes of the Underground Railroad’ by Ann Hagedorn. The incident took place in 1817.

“It took the Rankins fifteen days to travel from Dandridge, Tennessee, to Lexington, Kentucky – a distance of two hundred miles. The uneven terrain often forced them to walk, with Rankin leading the horse, and his wife carrying their young boy. ….. Once, the carriage tumbled down an abrupt two-foot drop, and the axle broke. With a steep mountain road behind them, Rankin chose to ride ahead in search of a blacksmith, carrying the broken axle and riding bareback for fifteen miles. Jean and the baby waited on the side of road in the dark until the early hours of the morning, when Rankin finally returned.”

You might like to reflect, as you drive along today’s comfortable modern roads, that in 1817 it would often take a day to go 10 or 15 miles. And yet we never read of them bemoaning the lack of time!

There is enough time to do the things that really matter; there is plenty of it. It’s all in the choices, in what we put first. Let’s get off the speed trap and control our perceptions, language and behaviour around time, instead of other peoples’ rhythms controlling us.

 





Are your days too short, workload too large and work-life balance a pipe dream?

Take a look at these Books, E-books, CDs/Teleseminars, Online Courses/Webinars and Tools. They provide practical, effective and easy to implement ways for you to free up your time, improve your productivity and reduce stress from overload.



Webmasters/Ezine Publishers: Would you like to use this article?
You are invited to use any of our articles in your publication or website. The only requirements are that we are included on your mailing list, and that you include the following, after each article you use...

Robyn Pearce CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is the Time Queen. She mastered her own time challenges and now helps people around the world overcome theirs. She can show you how to transform your time challenges into high productivity and the life balance you desire.

Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at gettingagrip.com.

© All Rights Reserved to Robyn Pearce, GettingAGrip.com, 25 Keven Road, R.D.4, Pukekohe, South Auckland 2679, New Zealand Ph.+ 64 9 232 0523


If you'd like Robyn to write something specific for your industry, please email us with your request.

Planning & Prioritising Online Course, $100 introductory price

Get Your Free
'How To Master Time'
Report

Image

Plus your FREE Time Resources Pack (Valued at $227)




Image

Client Testimonials

Catalyst For Efficiency ImprovementsIt was great to introduce our two job-share receptionists to Robyn’s Getting a Grip on The Paper War text.  It became a catalyst for us to improve our administration proce..." Marie Collins, Business Manager, The NZ Institute of Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

Enhanced Efficiency Thank you for all the tips and words of advice you and your team have sent through.I have been constantly reading it and it does wonders to my line of work and also being a wife and mot..." Anaseini Liku, Communication & Media Coordinator, Ministry of Education, Cook Islands

Clear Directions Enhance Use Of TimeI have just finished reading 'Getting a Grip on Time' and 'Getting a Grip on the Paper War'.  Particularly your book on 'Time' got me back on track, and during the day I catc..." Ingrid Geerlings, Owner, www.houseofmilk.com

Leadership Book Helps To find the Real Me‘I’ve just been reading ‘Getting a grip on Leadership’.  It is very good and has had an impact on me.  I realised I’d lost my way a bit re who I am ..." Heather Millar, Manager, Professional Practice, Central North Island Kindergarten Association, New Zealand

Additional $120,000 Billed After Time Management CourseI have personally known Robyn Pearce for around 16 years. From time to time my firm has contracted Robyn on a project basis to work with our professional staff as well as partners in the fi..." John Hackett, Partner, A J Park, New Zealand

The Librarian Who Got Her Life Back!The kick-start that I needed was delivered by a velvet glove, but make no mistake the iron hand within the glove ensured that the message was received and understood. If you are going to spend some..." Heather Jenks, Associate University Librarian (Research and Learning Services), University of Canterbury

Increasing Personal Confidence And Job ManagementHaving worked already very successfully with our NZ Team, Robyn's support of the Australian Team over a 12-month period was fundamental to helping us cope with increased day to day workload - espec..." Julia Braun, General Manager - Marketing, Beiersdorf Australia

A Great Empathy And Affinity With PeopleI have used Robyn as an Executive Coach for key Senior Staff for a number of years now and couldn't recommend her more highly. I've found as people step up in the organisation they often struggle t..." Merilyn Havler, Then General Manager, Beiersdorf New Zealand

An Increase of 30% In Gross Turnover Due To Better SystemsWhen we reviewed the progress made as a result of your concepts, a staggering number of them had become an integral part of our day to day business, collectively making a huge difference to our eff..." Wayne & Lisa Hughes, Occupational Therapy Helping Children, NSW, Australia

Motivational And Thought Provoking SessionI'd like to highlight the benefits felt both by the staff members attending your sessions, and the motivational flow-on effects experienced throughout the Hotel.In the developmental sta..." Human Resources Manager, Wentworth Hotel (part of the Rydges chain)

Successful Paper Management Seminar Thank you for your interesting and indeed challenging speech. I could see all the people who've ..." Australian Institute of Credit Managers, Sydney Branch

Personalised Seminar For Long-term Results On behalf of the team at Strategic Lifestyle Management and our client Lend Lease I would..." SLM Conference and Incentive Manager, for client Lend Lease

Excellent Skilful Presenter "Thank you for the practical and informative Time Management seminar you recently gave to our senior m..." HR Manager, ANA Hotel, Sydney

Improve Your Organisation And Productivity The response to the program was extremely positive, with an average rating of 4.4 out of ..." Noel Cook, GM, Outdoor Network, Australia

Organisational Skills Improve To Lift Productivity Your time management seminars are one of the best things we've ever done. Weeks l..." Centrelink, Dubbo, New South Wales

Productivity Increased 50% Now several months later and my productivity has increased between 30% and 50%. I'm seeing more and bette..." Senior financial planner, IPAC, Australia

Timesaving Techniques Learned A wonderful surprise to learn how much I had improved since the first programme with you nine months a..." National Sales Manager, Personal Insurance, GIO Australia

Control Gained In Managing Time Feedback from the staff was very positive... all felt they had gained a great deal of control and di..." MD, C.Y. O'Connor College of TAFE, Northam, WA

Immediate Action For Change A lot of great new ideas and some very good new tools that I shall start implementing immediately. Group Services Trainer, Adecco

Increased Efficiency Saves 20-25 Minutes A Day "Many practical hints which helped me reorganise my office, to operate efficiently." ..." Senior Partner, Baldwins (Patent Attorneys)

Invaluable Resources In Time Management Books I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on the flexibility of your approach, and..." Human Resources Manager, Professional Services Review, Canberra

Self Management Crucial In Time Management You presented a most informative and challenging training session. Your ability to gain q..." Human Resources Manager, Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal of NSW

'Time Management Guru'! Once again you combine an enthusiastic presentation style with useful tips and techniques. Succinct and fun ..." Manager - Training & Development, Real Estate Institute of NSW

Beneficial Time Management Ideas Your presentation was brilliant, and your thoughts on how to make time management beneficial to eve..." Barbara McCarthy, President, Chatswood Chamber of Commerce, Sydney

Informative And Energising Speech We could not have chosen better. Your contribution was just what we wanted and needed, and I was t..." Raewyn James, Tamaki Teachers' Conference

Positive Feedback For Speech Robyn, you gave a fantastic speech, and I am still having positive feedback about your talk to this day..." Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator, Swiss Grand Hotel, Bondi, and co-ordinator of Eastern Suburbs Women's Breakfast

Work Life Balance Put Into Practice I know everyone who attended was fascinated by all your planning tips and I know many have put t..." Solo Home Business Network, Sydney

IT Company Gains Insight Into Effective Time Management We were very impressed... everyone gained considerable insight to effective ..." MD, IT software company, Auckland

Professional Approach Reinforces Time Management Principles Following a number of very positive reference checks we invited Robyn Pe..." Godfrey Pembroke National Conference, Hobart, Tasmania

Staff Queue For Time Management Tips! "Thank you! I'm sure you could tell from everyone's enthusiasm that they enjoyed your presenta..." Programme Director, Pioneer SWAP

Specific Personalised Advice Benefits Group Robyn gave much more than the professional information imparted in this kind of session...." Principal Heritage Officer, Heritage Council NSW

They're 'screaming for more'! Thanks for your wonderful presentation. I've had a lot of positive feedback from our staff, and they c..." GM's assistant, Austereo, Australia

L.J. Hooker Predicts Great Success In Using Their Time Your down-to-earth common sense certainly hit home to a lot of people, and the feedba..." Lyn McDermott, Ass. Director, Marketing and Communication, L.J. Hooker Ltd

5 Stars For Time Management Course Robyn, in light of this morning's session (and comments about short emails!) I could leave it the..." Wilf Marley, Principal, Marley Loft Systems (Accountants)

Simple Practical Action Steps For Work Life Balance We've had great feedback since your last session with the NZ Institute of Charte..." Denise Bovaird, Past President, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants

Improved Focus And Concentration After Time Management Course Since your time management course our managers have found that they ca..." John Moore, Then-HR Manager, International Cricket Council, Dubai

Jam-packed Personalised Seminar Very Effective   Robyn spoke to four of my Academy groups in the space of 11 days. I wa..." Barrie Barrett, Chairman, Academy for Chief Executives, United Kingdom

Awesome says Law Clerk, Bell Gully I just thought I'd spend a few minutes in the Proactive/Value-adding quadrant and let you know ho..." Law Clerk, Bell Gully, New Zealand

Excellent 'Management' Course, As Well As 'Time Management' I would like to extend a huge thank you for making your valuable time av..." David Greenslade, Managing Director, Strategi, New Zealand

We've Regained 30% Of The Time We Used to Lose! Since we worked with Robyn 5 months ago our team of 12 underwriters and support staf..." Senior Underwriter, QBE Insurance, New Zealand

Fantastic Course - Team Feedback Extremely Positive! Thanks very much for the Time Management programme you have conducted over the ..." Gareth McCulloch, National Sales Manager, Southern Hospitality Limited

 
Timely appointment scheduling system