10 Ways to Make Your Time Matter

This morning I read a provoking article by Oliver Bukemen in the daily good that reminded me of our immortality- yours and mine. In his book Four Thousand Weeks, he lets us know that the average lifespan is absurdly terrifying infinite. He says we are lucky to live till 80, and if so, we will live four thousand weeks. At 75, that seems like far too few weeks left. Given that finite amount, he asks how do we want to spend our time? As the new year approaches and reflection appears, I thought I share his wisdom with all of you, dear readers.

1. Be a Researcher in relationships 

So often, in relationships, we want to control the outcome. We want someone to do this and that or be this way or that way. This causes numerous problems in relationships, from over-controlling to under (being afraid of relationships), and prevents us from experiencing the richness of relationships. When faced with a challenging moment in a relationship, try being curious about the person you’re with rather than controlling. Curiosity is a stance well-suited to the inherent unpredictability of life with others because it can be satisfied by their behaving in ways you like or dislike—whereas if you demand a certain result instead, you’ll often be frustrated and angry.

2. Cultivate Generosity

Practice random kindness. Say hello to that stranger on the street, give away a smile, a hello, a thankyou. Being of service and practicing generosity will undoubtedly enrich your time and put a feeling of contentment and happiness in your bank account.

3. Practice Doing Nothing

This is by far the hardest one for me. How is this for you? “When it comes to the challenge of using your four thousand weeks well, the capacity to do nothing is indispensable, because if you can’t bear the discomfort of not acting, you’re far more likely to make poor choices with your time, such as attempting to hurry activities that can’t be rushed, or feeling you ought to spend every moment being “productive,” regardless of whether the tasks in question really matter.

Doing nothing means resisting the urge to manipulate your experience or the people and things in the world around you and to let things be as they are. You can try the “do-nothing” meditation, where you set a timer for 5-10 minutes and then try doing nothing; if you catch yourself doing something—thinking, say, or even just focusing on your breath—gently let go of doing it. As you keep letting go, you’ll increase your ability to do nothing and gradually regain your autonomy. You’ll no longer be so motivated by the attempt to evade how reality feels here and now; instead, you’ll learn to calm down and make better choices with your brief allotment of life.

4. Adopt a fixed volume approach to productivity

We can’t do everything. The easiest way is to make a list of no more than 10 things, and as you accomplish what’s on your list, you can add something new. For me, I like to write, and yet I can’t write all day, nor can I talk to clients 8 hours straight a day as my brain just gives out and I need replenishment time. I have discovered that writing in the early wee hours of the morning from 5-8 is best for me, and talking to clients can work well for me in the morning and late afternoon. In between, I need to stop, walk and exercise to declutter to make time to be present.

5. Decide in advance what to fail at

For folks that want to be good at everything, this is hard. For me, it’s ok to spend time with grandchildren rather than having a perfect house, or it’s ok for me to write away and order food in or have a cluttered kitchen while I finish writing a blog or book. Knowing that it’s ok to live with a deliberate imbalance makes work and play more reasonable.

6. Serialize

Focus on only one big project at a time. That way, you can feel a sense of accomplishment. Multitasking while seductive can leave you frazzled as you don’t finish anything and are constantly in a state of catching up.

7. Focus on what you have Completed, not just what is left to do

Make a “Done list’ of what you have accomplished! It’s a ‘Cheering reminder of what you have accomplished!

8. Consolidate your Caring

There are so many great causes that one can take on as their own – pick those few that you want to make a difference in and pick your battles. No one person can effectively address all the injustices in the worldFor me, I have been fortunate enough to scholarship some folks from grade school to college and to be part of a family foundation that allows me to support the causes I deem important women, children, substance abuse, teen suicide, homelessness, etc.

9. Embrace boring and single-purpose technology

This is one that I have yet to address though Burkeman makes a case that we should delete distracting social media apps off our tablets so that we will have more time.

10. Be Present in Every Moment and see the world with a Child’s Eye

Look at the world with new eyes, find beauty in the flower and goodness in the hour, and discover novelty in the mundane!