There’s no time like the present for sorting out your relationship with time, so why not choose one or two of the NYR ideas below to help you avoid the perils of excessive busyness in 2013?
- Commit to making a two-column to-do list at least once a week, if not every day.
The two columns are headed ‘must’ and ‘may’ respectively. They require you to distinguish between essential tasks and desirable ones. Many people who are too busy never make that distinction.
- Disappoint someone regularly. Sometimes yourself.
People who are too busy are often attempting the impossible. Guess what! You don’t have to do the impossible. To achieve the extremely difficult is more than enough.
- Get your holidays booked into your diary by the end of January.
This might be difficult and involve a permissions process but where there’s a will there’s a way. Get it sorted. Knowing when your breaks are coming, having ‘Predictable Time Off’ – PTO – makes a real difference. People study this stuff and have proved it.
- Trim the length of regular appointments.
If you normally see people for 90 mins make it 75. If it is usually 60 mins in 2013 make it 50. It sounds mean but, be honest, if you knew you had less time you would use it better.
- Use the timer on your phone a lot more.
Be disciplined in how much time you give to both essential and desirable tasks. When the time runs out, stop. If the work is not finished, book another session into your diary to complete it. Sometimes be extra generous in your time allocation, especially if it is tasks that needs extended concentration – or if you just enjoy it.
- Have a clear-out of the meetings you attend.
If you don’t know what the meeting is achieving, or don’t feel it is very efficient, then tell the chair. If they don’t care – resign. If you are the chair – get it sorted.
- Make a vow never to censor yourself when a really simple question bubbles up in your mind.
Those questions – the ones that feel stupid – are often the key that needs to be inserted into the lock of some problem that no one has yet properly spotted. Asking it of yourself, or of others, could free up hours and hours of time by creating a new way forward. The little question ‘must we?’ has revolutionary potential, as do ‘why?’ or ‘why now?’, as kids know. (Sometimes, of course your question might actually be stupid, but who cares. It might give everyone a laugh and that is always energizing.
- Invest yourself deeply in something that can only be done slowly.
One of the best ways to de-bug your busyness is to step aside from the time management mania into something slow. Playing or listening to music is good (don’t speed it up) so too is cooking or gardening, as are most things that come under the heading ‘spirituality’. (Use that timer to ensure you give these things long enough.)
- Limit the amount of time you spend on social media.
They can easily become anti-social media and remove you from contact with the people around you. Like everything modern, they can easily drag you out of the present moment or even become addictive. Speaking of which, let me stop right there.
Happy New Year!
P.S For a load more ideas about how to grow in time wisdom and get out of the busyness trap have a quick look at my book Beyond Busyness http://www.sacristy.co.uk/books/ministry-resources/beyond-busyness-time-wisdom-ministry
P.P.S. If you liked any of that you might also like this from the Digital Nun. http://www.ibenedictines.org/2013/01/02/time-off/