Live in the present

In our frenetic pace of life today, we seem to be unsatisfied with the time we have, and are always looking for ways to get more from life

Happy man playing with ball in office

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present-moment, wisely and earnestly."

— The Buddha

Each one of us can foster our understanding of time by using it efficiently in our daily lives. Believe it, or not, we all have enough time each day to get everything done. Only thing is we tend not to make use of our time appropriately.

Get more out of each day

First of all, we need to bear in mind the many tiny compartments of time in the day that are not being used appropriately.

For instance, you have the habit of hitting the road at 8.00 in the morning. So, you get up at 7.30, and rush through your shower.

You have, in so doing, unwittingly made your morning "traffic" intense and too much of a rush. This leaves you no time for anything else.

In other words, you have made haste, hastily. You need to have used this particular slot in time more suitably.

Try instead to set your alarm at 5.30 am - i.e., two hours before your usual "rush-time" to the shower. Once you turn this into a habit, it will stay with you. It will also add substance to your time with a definite advantage.

You will, thereafter, be able to use your time appropriately, and have enough time to savour the delights of everyday life.

You will also be able to relish your morning coffee, or tea. You'll be able to practice your favourite aerobic routine, or yoga, and meditation. Not only that - you'll have enough time to delight in your breakfast. Not just gulp it quickly down an unwilling throat, or grab a quick bite on your way out as you did before.

A planned morning such as this will sure offer you the time to switch on the TV, and get yourself updated on the latest news, events, or happenings.

Suppose you are the type to pack everything into your afternoon, or evening slot. Just go ahead - no problem. But, try to relax during your lunch-break. Or, go for a walk. A post-lunch walk will do you a world of good. Also, plan your evening well - and, try to unwind.

Remember, you can allot the weekend to do your grocery/vegetable/fruit shopping for the week ahead, or for the month, in its totality.

When you plan things in this manner you'll be able to have everything at your beck and call - and, also achieve much more than you do each day.

Things to do

Clear the big things first. Don't sweat the small stuff. Remember, it is difficult to manage bigger, important stuff, but once you are through with them, the small things will take care of themselves.

Don't be possessed with unimportant tasks. If you pack yourself with tasks such as going to the grocer, or shopping mall, everyday, you will waste precious time. Result: you will feel that you have accomplished, but little during the course of the day. Little things - or, unwanted chores - rob your time. Schedule them judiciously.

Say no. If you think you are someone who just can't say no, you are doing yourself a big disfavour. When you don't have the time for yourself, there is no point in saying yes to someone else, and getting into a muddle.

Try to delegate tasks. No point in doing everything yourself - be sure you just cannot do everything on our own.

Take time off for yourself. Taking time off for yourself, and spending time with your family, eating healthy food, exercising, and enjoying your favourite hobby, or listening to soft, soulful music, will bring spring and energy into your life. Bear in mind - your health and wellbeing should always be placed on top of your priority list.

This done, you'll sure find that it is quite possible to do everything you need to do in a given day, everyday of your life. Only thing is you need to develop a "willing-to-change" attitude, plan things in advance, and ensure a sense of discipline with your outlook and also time.

This change per se will not only help you to become better organised, but also provide you the room to have more quality time at your disposal. This holds good for your workplace priorities and concerns, too.

Also, ask yourself about every issue as to how it fits into the mental map cited below:

  • Important and urgent - get done with it, right away
  • Important, but not urgent - make an entry on your calendar
  • Not important, but urgent - try to delegate as much as possible and reduce involvement
  • Not important, and not urgent - trash it.
  • Urgent and important, or combating daily "fires." This is where most people spend much of their time. Doing so is a warranty to remain in the rat-race. Try to minimise your time in this "position" and, if possible, assign.
  • Not urgent and important, or strategic thinking, or big picture mode. This is where you see the wood and not just the tree. This is also where you want to spend quality time. Maximise!
  • Urgent, and not important, or urgent to someone else, not important to you. This includes answering marketing calls, deleting spam mail. Minimise!
  • Not urgent, and not important. This is where you waste your time the most. Examples: Chat, or gossip, on the phone, watch television, or surf the Internet without reason. Try to minimise!

It is agreed that even when we plan our time and spend most of it in the thinking mode, we are sometimes overwhelmed by our daily lives. In order to gain lucidity and physical strength, again, we should retreat, once in a while. In time, peace of mind and happiness will come along with the progression of your own inherent time. This will make you a fully, inherently motivated person.

As one wise soul said, "There is only one word written on the eternal watch - NOW!" What does this signify? It tells us not to procrastinate, or postpone things for another day, another place. It tells you to make health a priority - right now!

Don't Cop Out

Ask people why they don't do any of the several things that can help improve the quality of their lives and I reckon you would hear the same retort that I do: "I don't have time for it!"

The reason why most people find it difficult to make time for exercising, meditating, or pursuing a personal interest, is that they put these down as optional activities. If you ask me, I haven't heard too many people saying, "I don't have time to brush my teeth in the morning," or "I just can't spare time for a shower." The reason we manage to find time for these activities is because they are not an option - we can't not brush our teeth; we can't not shower daily.

But, what happens when we have to, say, exercise? We cite paucity of time as an excuse, which, in my opinion, is a cop out. Ask people who exercise regularly, and they'll tell you that they do it because they have made it an indispensable part of their daily routine. They realise that if they must live a good life, they have no choice but to indulge in some form of exercise everyday. Even 20 minutes a day is a great exercise programme - because, in the words of fitness guru Madhukar Talwarkar, "Exercise is very kind."

Take a moment and consider how you spend your entire day. Realise that only when we decide to bestow sufficient importance to ourselves can we begin to make time - for our own life. There are no rules, or guidelines, on how to manage our time efficiently. Each of us is unique and what works for me may not work for you. But, I am convinced about what works for each one of us, regardless of our professions and lifestyles, it is a conscious decision to include "making time for self", into your daily routine, much like brushing your teeth!

MANOJ Khatri

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Rajgopal Nidamboor
Rajgopal Nidamboor, a trained physician, is a writer, commentator, and author. In a career spanning 25 years, Nidamboor has published over 2,000 articles, on a variety of subjects, two coffee table books, an E-book, and a primer on therapeutics, aside from an encyclopaedic treatise on Indian philosophy.

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