Improving Our Relationship with Time
Many of us can sometimes feel like we have a very antagonistic relationship with time.
We often feel like there's not enough of it. That there's so much that we want to do each day - that we start developing a kind of scarcity mindset. It can feel like time is always going by too fast - and that we're always behind on whatever projects we're working on. Or that we don't have the time to properly take care of ourselves or to exercise. It can also feel like we don't have enough time to spend with our friends or family.
Of course, this scarcity mindset doesn't really serve us in the long-run. It can feel like we're always behind the eight ball or playing catch up in life. We can start to feel drained. And if it goes on for too long, we can begin to feel resentful or burnt out.
In this human experience, however, time IS a limited resource. There's a finite amount of it that we have available to us each and every day. Additionally, our life span is limited. We all know that we will eventually die. And that we can't with any real certainty know how long we will be alive. And so, time IS precious. It's useful for us to remind ourselves that we must make the most of our limited time.
And while our time is limited and it can feel like it's passing really quickly, that doesn't mean we have to view it from a perspective of lack or scarcity. In fact, if we were to view time from an objective or detached viewpoint, we actually have quite a bit of it each day.
It is how wisely (or unwisely) that we choose to spend our time that imbues it with meaning. Whether we feel like we have an abundance of time - or a lack of it.
An analogy I've heard of before that I like - is comparing time to oxygen. There is plenty of oxygen in the air all around us, even though it is in limited amounts and therefore precious. But the key is that there is always an abundance of air and oxygen available to us. This is similar to the abundance of time that we have available to us, even though time is likewise limited and precious. Really it comes down to how we choose to spend this abundance of time that we have available to us.
How we choose to spend our time determines how we end up experiencing it - and by extension, how we experience life itself.
We have more than enough time to create amazing experiences in our life. It just depends on how wise we are with it.
Here are 5 tips that can help you develop a better relationship with time:
1) My first tip is to have gratitude for the time you have. If you're reading this blog post, there must be a part of you that sees life as a gift - and you want to learn how to maximize your life to it's highest potential. Yes, there are definitely times of hardship and struggle, but you also have the opportunity to create things, have meaningful relationships and feel all the feels. You get to interact with the world and discover more about yourself and who you really are. So instead of focusing on how little time you think you have, try to come from a place of gratitude - an appreciation for the time that you do have while in this bodily form.
2) My second tip is to live intentionally. If the time we have on this earth is a gift, we don't want to waste it. So choosing intentionally what we do with our time automatically imbues it with meaning and purpose. Being intentional with our time doesn't necessarily mean working all the time. Life is meant to be enjoyed. If working all the time brings you joy, then so be it. Intentional living is ultimately about doing things that will be loving to yourself. Maybe for you, it includes things like working out, meditating, or hanging out with friends. The key is to intentionally choose and create experiences that bring us joy.
3) My third tip is to be clear about your priorities. Many of us try to do too many things - where our energy is scattered. This leads to not doing any one thing well - and can often lead to burnout. We often use time as an excuse as to why we can't do something. But in reality, it's coming to terms that time is finite and we need to prioritize what is for our highest good. Only you ultimately know what that is for you, but it's important to become honest with yourself about where your priorities are - and always try to act in alignment with these priorities. You will be much more effective in growing and progressing in ways that are meaningful to you when your energy and attention are focused.
This includes what I've mentioned in a previous blog post about creating "safe containers." You must protect your time, energy and attention so that you have the bandwidth to actually be able to focus on your priorities. This may, for example, mean forgoing a party on a Friday night because you made a commitment to yourself to go work out that evening. And if you feel going to the party is actually more in alignment with your soul purpose, then you have to be honest to yourself about what your priorities actually are. This clarity will help you to be more efficient with your time.
4) My fourth tip is to live more in the present moment. For many people, this means slowing down and perhaps committing to practicing a mind-body exercise like meditation, yoga or tai chi. Some of us pack our days with jumping from one activity to another - so much so that we can begin to start going through the motions of life rather than really living it. We can go on auto-pilot or just end up living reacting from one thing to the next thing without any deeper awareness. This often manifests itself as boredom or anxiety.
Awareness is key to being able to be fully present and truly appreciate all that we are putting our time and energy into. For those of us who experience time as going faster and faster (often because we try to do more because we are so fixated on not having enough time), slowing down is probably the easiest way to start getting connected with the now. This invites us to be more mindful of how we truly wish to experience life and can actually allow us to be more productive and more creative - because our actions can be in greater alignment with the highest vision we have for ourselves.
5) My fifth and final tip is to imagine how you would want to spend your days if you only had a year left to live. Yes, perhaps a little morbid, but it really gets to the heart of our relationship with time. This helps us to gain greater clarity about what an intentional life would look like for us. I really don't enjoy contemplating death - but it can truly help put into perspective what is meaningful to us and what kind of impact or legacy we wish to leave before we go.
All of these 5 tips ultimately emphasize learning to live in the present moment. This is how we master our relationship with time. We often spend so much time and energy revisiting the past or projecting into a hypothetical future that we lose the vibrancy and aliveness of a peaceful and joyful life. If anything, this is the lesson that we're here to learn during this lifetime. Life only truly exists in the present moment. Everything else is an illusion.