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Time is scarce

I hear many people complain about a chronic lack of time. In other words: they are so often distracted that they constantly feel overtaken by events. Especially for managers, this feeling can have serious consequences; not only for themselves, but also for their employees. In order to solve this problem, many people decide to cut in their leisure time (the quality time for themselves, family or friends). However, I have noticed that too many of them are wasting their time by being constantly alert and by compulsively checking all their communication devices. This kind of time is neither qualitative nor productive.

The good news, however, is that you can keep this chronic lack of time under control if you are aware that you can. Here are a few suggestions to do so:
  1. You need to realize that your feeling of stress is not being caused by deadlines, nor by your watch; it is due to your own perception of the situation.

    Actually, stress is a physical reaction of the body dating back to prehistoric times, when our ancestors were still living in caves. Your body emits a false warning signal, as if you were in danger: fighting, fleeing or freezing. Of course, this is not the case at all, but it’s just a primitive reaction of our body.

  2. You need to concentrate on the content of what you’re doing, instead of on your watch. Be aware of the moment and the subject you’re working on at that moment. Don’t allow yourself to rush through all the items on your ‘to do’ list! For instance, think about how little children can entirely focus on the moment itself.

  3. Be aware of your own physical reactions. Is your heart beating too fast sometimes? Is your stomach upside down? Do you start talking very quickly? If so, take a break and try to breathe evenly.

  4. Stop continuously looking at your watch! It’s a pure waste of time. You can’t stop time anyway. Moreover, you are losing time and you will get more stress. Keep working at your usual pace and only look at your watch from time to time.

  5. You should accept that your efforts won’t be immediately rewarded. By nature, we tend to achieve immediate satisfaction. Think about our ancestors in their caves again. Stay calm, keep working at your usual pace and don’t give up, even when you have to deal with temporary setbacks.

  6. Take the time to create more time. In the morning, you should take 15 minutes to order your priorities and main tasks for the day. By writing down your activities for the day, you will feel in control again.

    Personally, I start each working day by writing down my priorities on a small white rectangular piece of paper. When I’m on the road, I put it in my pocket. It works for me this way and often, all my main tasks are completed around midday, so that I have time to do other things in the afternoon.

  7. Be aware that you should talk and eat more slowly. If you’re in a hurry, you will rush through everything, day and night. Each time you talk or eat slowly, you will avoid stress.

  8. Be realistic when determining deadlines for your partial tasks. Start by giving yourself 20% more time than you really need for each task. The fact is that we are often too optimistic when estimating the time we need to accomplish something. If we are already behind the times from the beginning, we will only have more stress.

  9. Take a moment’s rest. Bear in mind that we are all different: some of us consider running 6 miles a performance while others see it as a kind of meditation or yoga.


By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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