The Encarta English dictionary defines “Management” as the organizing, directing, handling or controlling of. The same dictionary defines “Time” as a period or moment. Knowing this, perhaps the meaning of “Time management” (TM) is not to be taken literally. But for many years I behaved like I could manage Time and the clock and the calendar only stressed me out. It wasn’t until it occurred to me that what actually wore me down, were “Numbers”. It was a sober awakening from the illusion that I could actually manage time.
Before numbers (BN) there were only two times; light time and dark time and what mattered was what could get done in order to survive while those times lasted. BN it was always NowO’ Clock and man was only as old as he/she was able to do what was necessary to live.
Today, survival has little to do with day time or night time. We now live in a 24/7 era wherein we are categorized according to the stage of life we’re in. For example, the following corresponding numbers are assigned: At 13, we are called teen agers; at 16, we can legally drive; at 18, we can vote and at 21, we can drink (legally!). However, these numbers are simply “Markers” and to reach them, we need only to be alive at the time.
There are also corresponding numbers for certain times we celebrate. Here are a few you know. January 1, New Year’s Day, February 14, Valentine’s Day, July 4, Independence Day, December 25, Christmas and, of course, Birthdays. What are left are so-called “ordinary” days; days that are not marked for a special occasion. Even so, I am willing to bet that most of the good times you’ve ever had were on “ordinary” days. Tuesdays are my favorite “ordinary” days. They tiptoe by quietly on the heels of Wednesday (Hump Day); the only day with a nickname.
Then, it is on to building a career and a life. It is the 9 to 5, 40 hour work week; the long hours, days, weeks and years pursuing goals and chasing dollars while we’re still “young”. “If you haven’t achieved your goal before the age of 40, you may as well forget it”. Whoever said that had to ignore the countless stories of people achieving success way beyond 40; proof, again, that 40 is just a ‘marker’ and that success does not have an expiration date; it never arrives too late.
I lived until 55, and was qualified for senior discounts. Yea!! However, life continued to happen and more often, I could hear the defiance of numbers by people saying things like, “age is just a number”,” it is not how old you are but how young you feel”, “I do not look my age”, and on and on. At this stage, birthdays are celebrated with some degree of anxiety. There is no brake we can step on to slow down Time. The idea of Time management is now in the rearview mirror and Health management becomes the preoccupation dujour. For most of us this is called “retirement age” and this to have a corresponding number somewhere between 62 and 67.
It is a time when we are more mindful of our mortality; a time when we start doing what we should have been doing all along; managing our energy (health); something we always had more control over but had relinquished it to Time Management; keeping track of Numerical Time.
Now, don’t get me wrong, numbers have utility in our lives and in many cases save lives. For example, it is one thing to say that hurricane “Wind Blow” will make landfall soon, as opposed to saying that it will land in 72 hours or taking prescription medication every 4 hours for maximum efficacy. I’m sure you can think of other examples.
In my awareness of it all, I have shifted my focus more on managing my energy and less on marking Time. Of course, I do not disregard the numbers. I get things done by a time they need to be done. However, I am not so concerned with the inevitable passage of Numerical Time. I pace myself as I live in Time doing what I have to do while being mindful of the reality that my life energy has always increased at a decreasing rate and that Time is a constant I have absolutely no control over.
It is never too early or too late to start shifting your focus from time management to energy management. I used to tell my children that when doing homework, they should start with the most difficult to the easiest, because by the end of the school day they’re mentally and physically fatigued. They are weakened; concentrating becomes difficult and it is hard to stay awake. I use the same approach when working out. On different days I alter my regimen. One day I would I start from heavy to light; on another, I would go light to heavy. Managing my energy accordingly has been beneficial for me in all aspects of my life. Now I work, play and sleep better. I still have to deal with that darn alarm clock. But, what am I going to do?
But why would I want to do the impossible (manage Time). It does not matter what has to get done. I will always run out of energy before I run out of time. By the way, have you ever heard a meteorologist talk about “Weather management”? If you had, you would think the meteorologist was crazy, wouldn’t you. Well, we can no more manage Time, than we can manage the weather.
The clock and the calendar, (markers of time), can be instruments of stress if you let it. Listen, we were born in Time and when we die it will simply be because we ran out of life, not time. Shifting my focus from TM to Energy management (EM) and having my own EM formula, has made my life so much less stressful.
What would this be like for you? Perhaps you may want to try EM. At least give it some thought. Then create your own formula; Find your own balance and pace yourself. It is something you can actually do in real time. However, be mindful that Time just is, and it elapses as it does and there is nothing anyone can do to stop, pause, rewind or fast forward it. There is just no organizing, directing, handling or controlling Time.
Life is a “doing” proposition and doing requires Energy. Time on the other hand, just is, priorities notwithstanding. Then, when we talk about “spending time”, we ignore the reality that it is Time that spends us all into “Nothingness”. We commonly refer to this expenditure as Death. As I mentioned before, we do not run out of Time, we simply run out of Life.
Time is a constant; period. Energy on the other hand, is something we can try to preserve, at least temporarily. Managing Energy in terms of how and for what we use it may vary in intensity; just as important, is conserving and replenishing energy through rest, exercise and nutrition.
If you do not have the energy you would like or need to have, then it is a matter of starting an Energy plan or regimen. Of course, if your lack of energy is due to a real physical inability, then a modified regimen could be followed in a manner that does not result in worsening your condition, but enhances your energy moderately or within reasonable levels. I strongly recommend the advice and guidance of a nutritionist and or a fitness coach. For those who are now enjoying the highest energy level ever, there will always be limitations; limitations that are simply attributable to that which is impossible to manage; Time.
Humans are not machines and even machines need down-time in order to manage wear and tear as a way to maximize their useful life. Then they are replaced. Humans eventually run out of life. It’s that simple.
I continue to live according to my own balance and I pace myself accordingly.
I use my Energy as Time elapses and while being mindful that the amount of energy I have continues to increase at a decreasing rate and that this basic economic postulate does not apply to Time; numerical or otherwise.
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