Lately, I have been thinking a lot about time – how quickly it disappears, and how much I sometimes want it to just stop.
Each day, for weeks, I woke up, knowing that my own inability to focus and tendency to just mindlessly surf the web, combined with inevitable interruptions from other people, would result in a day that would be void of meaningful accomplishment.
It’s astounding how little we get done in a world full of distraction.
Recent surveys make the claim that the average person can only do a sustained amount of work for 2 or 3 hours at a time. My guess is that this figure is probably more like 20 or 30 minutes in this age of social media and smart phone notifications.
I know that none of this sounds very positive, which of course, compounded my feelings of futility.
I’ve always been the kind of person who needs to get something done every single day. And when that does not happen, I feel like the wall, just standing there going nowhere fast.
Discouraged and becoming depressed over the fact that “nothing is happening” I knew that I had to make some changes.
Time is exactly the same for everyone. But it’s not the enemy. In fact, I began to realize that time could become my friend – a powerful, compassionate friend – as odd and as contrary as that may seem.
This realization sunk in when my campaign to dig myself out of non-productivity began with getting up 30 minutes earlier and starting the day – not by checking email, not by looking at the depressing news web sites, and not even by drinking a cup of coffee.
Instead, I dived right into a priority project and to my amazement, it would often be completed by 9am. Free of distraction and interruption, we are all capable of so much more.
Another thing that helped was pure discipline. I now tell myself “This is going to get done by noon, no matter what.” Guess what? It gets done. In the past, my subconscious mind would leave an opening, saying to myself “If I don’t get it done today, there is always tomorrow.” I’m no longer easy on myself.
Do we play mind games with ourselves? We do. But the games can be played in our favor.
I also view my spare time differently, and this new approach may surprise you. I no longer look forward to free periods designed to relax and take it easy. Instead, I use the so-called “off” hours to practice, study and learn new things – all with the intent of launching a new business or volunteer activity that will give more meaning to my life. I had previously spent far too much time “relaxing” which contributed to the overall sentiment that my life was without purpose.
The non-work hours are now also dedicated to quality time with family and friends, forging bonds that die all too quickly when we’re staring at a screen, neglecting the people who mean the most to us.
Of course, I take breaks – essential for good health – but most of my time is now spent working towards some kind of goal – whether it’s business related or nurturing relationships. Goal-based time – rather than “wasting time” has helped break the cycle of discouragement.
Attitude was a big change agent for me. I see life now as an adventure. Not a struggle. Time is here FOR us, not to work against us.