The days are growing shorter. The seasonal “fall back” time change is in effect. It’s already dark out before you’ve checked off even half of today’s to-dos. This feeling of having even less time to accomplish things can make even the most efficient organizer feel more stressed than usual.
Yet maybe the answer isn’t trying to wring more hours out of shortening days, but getting more out of each day in our hours. In other words, perhaps it’s not your calendar that needs an overhaul, but your mind.
How do you think about time? Do you see it as a cruel task master, always pushing you relentlessly? Do you see it as an opponent against whom you must fight a daily battle? If so, it might be time to rethink time. Time can work for you, not against you, if you let it.
Here are some ideas about how you might start to do this:
Slow down. How often during a typical day do you feel “speedy”? If you are constantly revved up, rushing wildly from thing to thing, there’s no way that you can be as efficient as you could be. A frantic pace leads to constant anxiety and mistakes in our work and judgment. Find a way to step back and slow down, before an accident or health problem does it for you.
Think about ways that you can dim your sense of urgency. Sometimes when you feel like you can least afford to take a break is when you need one the most. Think about whether you are trying to juggle too much sometimes in the name of balance, we add more to our waking hours than we should.
Stop over-scheduling. One way to deal with time differently is to refuse to cram so much into your day. If you don’t give yourself an adequate stretch to deal with each item on your plate, then you end up with a backlog of half-finished, poorly executed tasks. Although you may think that you have little control over how much you have to do, you must reclaim your power here.
Remember that you are the ultimate decision-maker about how you spend your time. If you believe that your boss has more authority over your daily decisions than you do, you must find a way to work as a partnership to adjust your workload and delegate some tasks.
Watch yourself. In a city like New York, it’s all too easy to get swept up in a feeling of constant pressure. Learn to monitor your warning signs for being on overload, which indicate you’re getting too speedy and over-scheduling. When you feel yourself going into panic mode as though everything is a huge time crunch, it’s a red flag that indicates enough is enough.
Have a strategy ready to help you come back to earth, such as slowing down your breathing, or taking a break from what you’re doing. If you can recognize when you are viewing life as a constant emergency, then you can take actions to shift your approach.
Brake for a break. Time changes when you change how you feel about time. Have you ever noticed how quickly you can feel completely different about time when you’re on vacation? Suddenly, everything that seemed so critical in “work time” fades to black when all we need to worry about is what we want to have for dinner.
Take this lesson of vacations as a cue of what to do time after time. Recharging through daily recovery may be all you need to rebalance your scales for a smoother tomorrow.