Time to change how you think about time

Worry and time have an inverse relationship. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other; Yet curiously, both are suspended when you live in the now...Mike Dooley I spend an inordinate amount of time coaching clients in and around the topic of time.

"I wish I had more time."

"I have too much to do in the time I have."

"Time just flies."

"I am constantly worried about not getting things done on time."

"I am overwhelmed by how much I have to do and how little time I have to do it in."

Have you ever found yourself stressing about time? I want to share a bit of my own wisdom on the topic this week, as well as some wisdom from my favorite book, Pause.

In working with a client a couple of years ago, I was struck by how often she used the words "overwhelmed" or "frantic" or "crazy". It's hard for me to picture anyone being terribly effective when they are beginning from a mindset of being frenzied or overwhelmed. As we delved into the issue, we discovered that as long as she thought she was overwhelmed - she was. The words in her mind dictated how she dealt with her day. If you have a choice of how you want to deal with your day, it seems to me that frenzied of overwhelmed should not be the choices you make. I gave her a simple (NOT easy) challenge - You don't get to say anything about being overwhelmed or having too much to do. You can say you have a lot to do, but it can't be too much to do."  She tried it for a few weeks, and noticed a difference. More energy -more of a sense of being in control - more satisfied with what she was getting done. Not bad results for simply changing the words she allowed herself to use, is it?   I had a similar story with a male client who was making his team crazy by saying how crazy busy he was.  His craziness was rubbing off on them, and they all began to be anxious about how much stuff he had to do and the fact that he was not getting it done.  Again, we tried the strategy of changing his language and it worked. The work didn't go away. He didn't get more resources. He still had a lot to do. The team settled down. He settled down.  Life went on in a calmer way.

In the book, Pause, they suggest we would do well to change our mindset about time.  There's a saying in skydiving: "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast." This saying reminds the skydiver to think slowly, to focus on the task in the moment and feel the smoothness. In that flow, speed happens all by itself. How much time do you spend each day worrying about not having enough time? It takes self-awareness to realize that you are caught up in worry and slow down enough to free yourself from it.

First, pause and become aware that you are worrying about time. Next, accept it without pushing it away - it is what it is. Next, choose a different thought like "there's enough time to do the important things" or "I have enough time to do the things I think are essential."  Be like a great skydiver - fast, fluid and calm.

PQ - Experiment - notice - practice. When you find yourself worrying about time, what can you tell yourself when you believe you are short on time that will take you out of the worry?