Time Is Life

The Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset once said: “Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.”

For me, there is no better opening thought for a Time Management seminar. “What are you going to do?” is the central question. At home. At work. In life. You have 168 hours in a week. What are you going to do with them?

With Ortega y Gasset in mind, here are a few of the things to think about that will help you manage time, improve your productivity, achieve success, and make the world a better place.

What are you going to do today? – A central concept in time management is the Daily To Do List. The key is to sort out the trivia and nonsense (the “C” items in the ABC Priority System) from the few critically important “most do” things (via the 80/20 Rule). Ask yourself frequently: What do I have to get done today? Tomorrow? This week? The way to zero in on the “A” items is to identify and stay focused on your Goals and Values.

What are you going to do next? – Each day, life hands you a lot of choices. Some are attractive. Some are unexpected. Some are interruptions in what you planned to do. How do you handle all these options and choose the right thing to do next? Classic time management expert Alan Lakein advises, Ask yourself this question: “What is the best use of my time right now?” The best use of your time on a moment-to-moment basis is almost always to do something connected to your “A” items.

What are you doing to reach your goals? – Each year in December or January, we make New Years Resolutions, goals for improving ourselves. But sadly, many of us let these goals slip away and disappear. The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus once said: “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” So, your future is up to you. Decide what you would be in life. Then do what you have to do to make progress toward your goals.

What mark are you going to leave on this world? – Ever wonder, Why am I here? What is my calling in life? What is my purpose? Apple founder and entrepreneur Steve Jobs talks about making a dent in the universe. Others talk about a legacy. These are Big Questions. If you are wondering what sort of difference you could make in this world, do these two things. First, take a look around at what people need. Second, take a look at what you are really good at. Then put them together: your special skills and some pressing need. You will make a difference indeed.

Lakein once said: “Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life. But to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.”

Or as my mother was fond of saying, “Life is what you make it.”

Decide what you want out of life and pursue it.

A colleague of mine said to me recently, “I really don’t like to teach time management.” Not me. I love it. Time is money. Time is life. What better topic to spend time on?

Posted by Terrence Seamon on August 5, 2010. Originally published at HR.Blognotions on July 31, 2010. For more tips on time management, productivity and success, see Terry’s website and invite him to speak to your team.


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