Time management is undergoing a sea change. It is becoming attention management. By being mindful about what we are thinking, we can get more done in less time. Here’s how.
Tip 1: Breathing Mindfully
The life expectancy of a giant tortoise is around 140 years and an elephant lives for around 80 years. While human life expectancy is increasing, go back 150 years and it was between 50 and 60 years. Now here’s the thing. That tortoise breathes around 4 times every minute. An elephant breathes around 8 times every minute and we breathe around 12 to 15 times every minute.
So to change your relationship with time, just breathe more slowly. Just doing several deep and slow breaths at the start of each day is enough to slow things down.
Tip 2: It’s Mad Not to Meditate
Before I started meditating about 10 years ago, I thought it was both a waste of time and that there was no way I could make my over-active mind go quiet. Nowadays, if I miss my morning meditation, I actually have a worse day.
It might sound counter-intuitive but by taking 10-20 minutes of ‘me time’ each day, you claw it back in bucket loads throughout the day. You become less stressed and notice serendipities. So one chance encounter can save you hours in searching for just the ‘right thing’. It’s also reckoned the health benefits alone make it worthwhile and that each minute you spend in meditation gets added to your potential longevity.
Tip 3: One Thought at A Time
The normal human mind can only have one thought at a time. So just think about what you are thinking about right now and the thing you are thinking about gets replaced with the thought you are having about that thought.
Just pause for a moment, read the above sentence again and just check the validity of this notion.
Armed with this knowledge about the way we think, this gives us the most amazing insight when it comes to our time management. If we are focused on anything else other than the task in hand, time will slip away from us.
The key to making the most of our time is to ‘get in the zone’ and focus solely on what you are doing right now. When thoughts other than the ones we want to think arrive, a simple way to make them go away is to ask them about their purpose and who sent them.
Tip 4: Symmetrical Thinking
It is an urban myth that the left brain is logical and the right brain is creative. Both sides of our brains are involved in both activities. When it comes to time, it is now thought there is a significant difference in how each hemisphere interacts with it. It appears that the left hemisphere sits inside space and time and that the right hemisphere sits everywhere and ‘everywhen’ else.
When we are ‘in that zone’ what is happening is that both hemispheres are working at the same time. The left brain handles the detail while the right brain holds the whole of the work ‘in mind’.
Tip 5: Trust Your Gut
If you have ever regretted not trusting your gut, here’s why. It is now known our gut mind, which contains more neurons that a cat’s brain, operates about 5 to 10 seconds ahead of our conscious mind. It is an active mind center involved with decision making and getting us to pay attention to what is important to us. This might be an oncoming car as we are about to step off the sidewalk or something on a web page we are scanning.
So by forming a new relationship with out gut mind, we not only save time but we can be ‘ahead of time’ too. Our gut likes to be talked to and consulted. Say ‘Hi’ to it a few times a day and ask for its advice. You will make friends with an old and faithful companion. Note that it only speaks with a “Yes” or a “No”.
Tom Evans is an author, mindfulness trainer and creative catalyst. He is the creators of Living Timefully, a mindful approach to time management. See www.tomevans.co for more information.