Most people face a daily dilemma; too much to do and not enough time to do it in. there are too many opportunities to pursue, too many problems to solve, too many projects to work on, too many calls to return, too many people wanting too many pieces of your time. Time is a paradox. We never seem to have enough time, yet we have all the time there is. The problem is not a shortage of time, but how we choose to use the time available to us.
An old American proverb says, “You sometimes have to do less in order to get more done.” For some reason though, many of us are reluctant to slow down until forced to do so. Our lives are dependent on an increasing flurry of activity to stop is to risk collapse, but to continue is insane.
An ancient Chinese proverb says, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in eliminating the non-essentials.” Do you agree with the Chinese proverb? Do you really think of leaving things undone as a noble art? Most of us don’t. we think that being busy is a virtue and the busier the better. When things are left undone, we feel guilty and frustrated. We want to do more, not less. Most of us just keep adding activities tour lives; we seldom subtract. We argue that it’s all important; it all has to be done. Yet, the inevitable truth is that you can’t do everything. Accept this as fact. Stop living as though the world will stop turning without you. It won’t. once you do this, you have taken a big step toward becoming an effective time manager. Make sure that what is left over all the non-essentials. Leave essentials undone, and you have problems. However, leave non-essentials undone, and nothing happens. Trouble is, we don’t always know what they are.
Life is a simple duality, essentials and non-essentials. Things to do, and thing to not do. We focus all our attention on what to do, but we spend very little time deciding what not to do with our time. Most of us make to-do list, but have you ever made a not-to-do list? Perhaps you should; just having such a list can help. Not everything has to be done, only certain essentials. We can safely ignore the non-essentials.
The hard part of course, is to separate essentials from non-essentials. They don’t usually come neatly labeled. But maybe it would be easier if we forced ourselves to actually put a label on them. How? Make two list. Call one “Essentials” and the other Non-essentials.” Whenever you put something on the Essentials list, write an explanation of why it is essential. If you can honestly justify it – in writing – its in. otherwise, throw that time-eating activity out. Failure to identify and drop all the non-essentials from our lives exposes us to severe risk. We clutter up our world with junk and problems. Pausing now and then to clean out the closets of our lives is a refreshing, therapeutic exercise. By doing so, we learn to focus on what really matters. Once we honestly do this, we can stop worrying about the non-essentials we no longer have time or energy to consider. We can focus our attention on the truly important issues.