‘Time’ – Precious and Perishable

Life Begins

“Time.” We all know that time is very important. We also know that for each of us individually it is limited; but what is the exact definition? Well according to Merriam Webster time is defined as follows:

`the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues :

For all creatures on earth the action. process and condition being measured is what we call life.

Clock Ball

If you are reading this, the undeniable fact is abundantly proven, you were born and you are alive. The other equally undeniable fact is that at some point you will run out of time on earth and cease to live in any mortal sense. Life after – perhaps – but in the mortal sense someday everyone’s time runs out. This clearly makes time by far our most precious asset and recognizing that reality compels us not to waste our time.  The clear reality is that you may get ill, but then recover. You may gain great wealth and then lose it only to regain it and more. But when your mortal time expires that is forever, the end. So the clear lesson here is that we must maximize the effective use of our time and doing that can be a daunting challenge. The choices are infinite but here are just a few thoughts on the subject.

To even begin a useful discussion of time one must also call into play the concept of balance. We know for example that our body demands that we spend roughly one third of each day sleeping. While sleeping, we are essentially doing little to nothing relative to what we do while awake and yet sleep is absolutely essential for good health and well-being. So allowing ourselves 7 or 8 hours of sleep every day is certainly not a waste of time but actually a good and proper use of that time. Now let’s look into the other 16 or 17 hours of each day.

Sunrise, sunset

My objective here is not to tell you how to best use your time but rather to focus on ways you can best evaluate for yourself what are the best ways to utilize your time for yourself. Let’s begin with multi-tasking.

The obvious advantage to multi-tasking is that you can accomplish more than one thing within a specific time period. Some applications of this are extremely simple yet productive. For instance if you commute to work by train or bus you can obviously do other tasks while being transported and so that is one form of multi-tasking. But what about while working out at the gym or even just walking? There are things in your life that require some planning and thought. Perhaps you are working on a project that requires you to write a paper or proposal or report. Actually doing that will require your full attention but as you are working out or walking you certainly can be at least thinking about what you will say and how you will say it so that when you finally focus on that task the basic outline will have already been established in your head thus expediting finishing the project. But you were also able to contribute to your health through physical exercise while using your brain for other things. That said I feel I probably should also mention that there are times when this approach is not advisable for example when you are aggressively riding a bicycle on busy streets and roads. For that it is best to keep you mind fully focused on the riding. But in more benign situations such as walking around the park or using workout equipment at the gym your mind can be put to other uses without risking physical injury.

London Clock

Everyone needs rest as well, so one of the most common diversions from the daily routine is to watch a little television. But even then, it is possible to do a little productive activity while watching. Certainly during commercial breaks you can check your email and text messages and respond as necessary. Or possibly you need to read something, a report, a book, a proposal, whatever and that too can be done during the commercial breaks. In this way you can relax and enjoy a show or two and still get a few necessary tasks done thereby maximizing your time.

However, there are also somethings you should absolutely avoid because while they may somewhat increase you time efficiency they can also be deadly and death is of course the end of time, your time anyhow. One of the worst things you can do is text message, email or read your text messages or email while driving or even while walking. It is simply far too distracting and whenever you are out on the roads in your car or on the sidewalks when walking your attention must be focused on everything that is going on around you. In your car you can be, among thousands of other undesirable things, looking at your device when unseen by you the vehicle in front of you has come to a stop for whatever reason. The sound of metal hitting metal will shake you lose from your device but may also be the last sound you ever hear.

 

Coffin, Photo credit FOX 32 Chicago 

Planning is also very important to maximizing your time. Yes we all enjoy some serendipity but on a day to day basis the more we plan our day the more efficient it is thereby maximizing the value of our time. A crucial equal partner is effective communication. Here is just one example of billions of possibilities on how lack of good communication can utterly destroy your time. You get a text message from a friend. It reads: ”Let’s meet at Starbucks at 7.”  Happy to hear from your friend you text back: “OK see you then.” So 7 o’clock that evening you are sitting at the Starbucks on Olive Avenue waiting for your friend. By 7:30 p.m. you text your friend asking where he/she is and response throws you. “Wondering the same of you. I was at Starbucks on Glenoaks Blvd at 7 this morning and you never showed up.” Boom! A total failure of communication. You assumed so much, the time, a.m. versus p.m., the location with several Starbucks in your town you assumed one but the wrong one. This may seem trivial but it illustrates well how implementing poor communication and making assumptions can waste a lot of your time and create some anxiety in the process. The better you plan, the better you communicate the higher and greater use of time and thereby the happier is your life.

There are an infinite number of ways time impacts every aspect of our lives. Here I have touched on a tiny few. Hopefully in doing so I have at least sparked your interest so that you can begin to develop for yourself your own ways to maximize the use of your time and thereby enhance the joy in your life. Time is absolutely critical because it is the very essence of human life, so the better we use our time on earth the more we can enjoy it. And given the deep importance of time in everyone’s life be sure to always respect other people’s time. Whenever you have an appointment with another person remember: early is on time, on time is late and late is unforgivable.

Photos: Ron Irwin unless otherwise noted.

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