If you are like me, you know how precious time is. You’ve also suddenly realized that twenty (or thirty) years have flown by in a flash. Aside from a dozen or so life-changing and amazing moments I can’t recall everything I’ve done in all those years that mattered, I mean really, really mattered; I can probably better tell you what I haven’t done.
This quote by Henry Van Dyke sums up time best, “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”
After careful contemplation I’ve concluded that outside of love, time is the most valuable commodity in the Universe. Time and love are two things we can never have enough of; and they are the two things we spend our lives fighting for and once shared you can never take either of them back.
You may find it odd how many times I write about love in a blog that is about business. But I find it odd that we don’t talk more about love in business. Without getting too philosophical, I can tell you that after my recent trip home for the funeral of my friends’ 17 year old son; it’s apparent that time and love are the only two things that matter in the end.
So why am I writing about these two subjects as if they’re interchangeable? Because I believe they are. Time is all we have to give to the ones we love. Our careers are a means to an end and if we’re lucky, it’s a means to happiness and joy because we love what we do! Time is something we either manage well or have no sense of. Love is something that is either a part of everything we do or grossly missing from the picture. Yes, time is money, but spending time with others is how we show love…an invaluable gift. If we are lacking in time-management skills it could take away from the time and love we get to share with our families. It’s that simple of an equation.
Personally, I have some decisions to make about how I’m going to spend my professional time this year. I have to weigh out the fact that I’m needed to manage the State Fair as a project against the reality that my balancing of job, life and love could use some work of its own. I will either be a living, breathing testimony to what I’m trying to convey or I will be a slave to the clock and missing precious time with the people I care most about.
A year ago today I wrote of a new day, a new beginning and a year full of unknown professional challenges. Right now, as I’m looking at what those challenges are and what they will be again this year, I have to really take stock of my priorities. The best news of all of this is that I have a choice. I am the person deciding where I invest my heart, my head and my time. Can I truly make the most of each day so that I have some time and love left to share with my family?
The answer lies somewhere in the commitment I’m willing to make to each day. I’m not talking about resolutions or crazy quips to get me through each day; I’m talking about a lifestyle that embraces making the most out of each and every moment. Is it possible, you ask? I think it is! Here is a 21-step plan that I’m going to try for 21 days – you can try it, too:
- Before you get out of bed, breathe in through your nose and out making a “ha” noise. Do it five times (it gets your blood circulating)
- When you’re standing in your closet looking for your clothes for the day, slide your left arm down your side, then your right…repeat five times on each side
- If you can, jump in the shower before you do ANYTHING else in the morning, even before coffee. Try it! There’s something stimulating about water and helps you to think more clearly
- Don’t get on email or Facebook before work
- Invest in a good travel coffee cup and use it for your 2nd cup of coffee during your commute
- Try to force yourself to laugh out loud (even if it’s a fake laugh) for at least one minute while you’re driving (it is great exercise for your diaphragm and it releases endorphins )
- Arrive to work 15 minutes before you really want to get started
- Make sure to make the rounds (quickly, but sincerely) to say “Good Morning” to everyone in your office
- When you turn on your computer, answer outstanding emails in that 15 minute window
- Try to have “email” times set aside so you don’t get bogged down with the constant interruption every time you hear the “ding” of a new message
- Take a break for lunch and if you can, take the stairs, go out on the rooftop or do something that forces you to take in the beauty of your surroundings
- Carve out another 15 minutes somewhere to write personal thank you’s or to touch bases with business acquaintances that have been on your mind
- If you get bogged down with Facebook, bill-paying or personal business during the day, earmark 15 to 30 minutes to knock stuff like that out. If your mind is full of things you keep meaning to get done, your head won’t be in the game
- Do the hard stuff first: outbound sales calls, proposals, etc. THEN do the more task-oriented functions of your job
- Before you leave, make a bullet list for tomorrow putting the hard projects at the top of the list
- Stay late if you have to, but leave it at work!
- On your way home try not to talk on your cell; instead listen to relaxing music, breathe and get geared up to give your family your undivided attention
- Before bed stretch and recall a few things you were grateful for in your day
- Try to go to bed before 10 p.m.
- Use the “ha” breathing again while you’re lying in bed
- Fall asleep while saying “thank you” for every little thing you are grateful for (your bed, your favorite pillow, your family, your job, your home, your clothes, running water, a furnace, etc.)
It only takes 21 days to form a habit. I need some new habits; some good ones! I want the time I give to everyone in my life to be quality. I want people to think of me as caring, thoughtful and loving…in both the workplace and at home. I have some work to do but I am committed to finding balance.