A year ago, we discussed how to regain your energy post-pandemic in our blog. Now, many of our clients express that they’ve effectively rediscovered methods of connecting with the world; however, one theme that continues to emerge is the challenge of time. The challenge of finding, balancing, and effectively managing time remains prevalent for our clients. Time scarcity has a cost – rushed decision-making, prioritizing speed over thorough consideration, an imbalance toward transactional leadership, and even health impact – all of which can reduce both optimal solutions and leadership. Time scarcity also contributes to reduced connection, engagement, and employee burnout.
The concept of time is described by Chat GPT as “a concept we use to measure and sequence events. It’s the dimension in which things happen and is divided into units like seconds, minutes, and years”. This definition aligns with our common perception. In reality, time encompasses more than its quantifiable aspects. It shares a deep connection with our attention, and the manner in which we allocate our attention influences our subjective experience of time. Our focus and the way we channel it play a direct role in shaping our perception of time – not having enough of it or feeling satisfied with it.
When discussing this with a client, we started looking at her attention patterns. It became evident that her undivided focus was only achieved during in-person meetings, when she led discussions, or during one-on-one interactions on Zoom. It was a revelation that her sole moments of complete concentration occurred only when she was surrounded by others prompting her to approach her solitary time with greater intention. Collaboratively, we devised strategies to structure her weeks and days, allowing her to enhance her productivity when working. Paradoxically, taking the time she did not think she had to plan ahead made her feel more satisfied with her work.
With another client, we discussed the experiment led by Larry Dossey, author of Space, Time and Medicine, who asked a group of business executives to sit still with their eyes closed and tell him when a minute was up without counting. Most called “time’s up” after only 15 seconds! The client started to pay more attention to how he spent his time, even the 2- to 10-minute breaks he would find between meetings. He came to the realization that, like most of us who were raised in the Western world, he had been “conditioned to run” and that he would always strive to fill those brief intervals with work to accomplish more tasks.
In recognizing the value of pausing – taking a moment to breathe, really thinking about his next meeting and what he wanted to accomplish there – the client gained clarity on how to approach his responsibilities. As a result, his thinking became more flexible and adaptable, he felt a greater sense of accomplishment, and he was no longer pressed for time. The famous pianist Arthur Rubinstein once said, “I handle notes no better than many others. But the pauses; that is where the art resides.” Like Rubinstein, this client tapped into his own potential to excel in his work by appreciating the power of these pauses.
Each person is unique, and so is their relationship with time. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all method to manage your time. Yet, transitioning from attempting to control time to being more mindful of time can yield significant outcomes in both productivity and, perhaps more importantly, happiness. Taking the time to look at time is the initial step toward reclaiming authority over it. Reach out if you would like to talk further about how this might apply to you.