Where do you find time?

Where do I find time? Karen asks me to tell her when I find the answer. I guess many of you are also have the same question. We can look under rocks, in old storage chests, in our savings box, under our beds, in closets and I will bet we will not find time there. Like a little child playing a game, time is playing hide and seek and you are trying to find her. However, no matter how hard you look you cannot find time. Is time hiding, or have we just not saved enough to find? Time is a very elusive creature. We may find her when we don’t want her only to lose her when we really need her.

Harvest Time – By Kimberly Strothman

Orange, red, yellow, green. The colors gently falling,
billowing in the wind. The smell of dry leaves, barbeques, musty air
finding that time in our hearts for quiet contemplation
Harvest time is here.

What if the most important time to find is not outside but inside? Perhaps you may never find the time out there. The truth is that time out there is not ours to control. You can’t stop the world or even your clock. Time inside is a different story. Time inside is yours to control. Time for reflection, time for love, time for caring, time for compassion, time for thinking, all of these times lie inside us. Yet we spend most of our time looking outside. Who has ever found patience or compassion looking outside? We have limited time outside but unlimited time inside.

We spend so much time looking for time outside that we ignore the time we have inside. We have unlimited time in our hearts to care for ourselves and our loved ones. I think of the line that says “iron bars and stone walls do not a prison make.” What bars and stone walls do we construct around time? We fool ourselves into thinking that we live in a prison of time. If we realize that we can control how we look at time, we can find all the time in the world for what really matters. I may have to work from 9 to 5 to make a living but my mind and my feelings are not captured by the time clocks of the world. We create our own prisons for time.

What inside time, can you find today? Where can your mind go today to look for time that it has never gone before? What thoughts and feelings have you ignored? What if you let yourself think the unthinkable or feel the unfeelable? What could you do today that would be so worthwhile that at the end of the day, you would say “this is one of the best days of my life?”

How often have you heard "This won’t take long?"

This won’t take long! How often has someone said that to you or you have said that to someone else? A few years ago, I bought my first gas grill. I had never owned one and Karen and I decided it was time. To save a few bucks, I ordered it through the Internet. When it came, it was in one huge box which I had a hard time moving into the garage by myself. I vaguely remember something about it only taking fifteen minutes to put together. Well, it took me 30 minutes just to lay all of the parts out. Three hours and forty five minutes later, I had finished putting my grill together. Except for putting the batteries in backwards, I was able to fire the thing right up and do my first outside grilling at the age of 60. I was thrilled except when I thought how long it took me to put it together. I was even angrier the next day when after going to Home Depot, I found the same grill. I could have purchased it there pre-assembled; with delivery, it would only have cost me 25 dollars more. Thus, my savings did not even come close to paying for my time, not to mention my aggravation.

We often underestimate the length of time it will take to do things. Sometimes we are misled by advertisements but often by our own misconceptions. The thought “this won’t take long” should be a red flag for most of us. On reflection, the phrase is seldom true. They say anything worthwhile takes time. We can do the worthless fast, but those things that are really meaningful and valuable will take more time.

What things and events do you most often underestimate? What jobs or tasks do you rush through? What work do you have to do today that you should allow more time for? What areas in your life should you spend more time on? It is a lot easier to be less frustrated and to do a better job when you can allow the right amount of time needed for the job and not worry about it “taking too long.”

What is the value of one minute of time?

Just one minute! One minute please! Right! We all know that when someone says “just one minute,” it will be more than one minute. Have you ever thought about a simple minute? What is one minute? Of course it is just sixty seconds. Not too much too ask of anyone it seems. But how many minutes do each of us have in our lives? If we live to an average age of say eighty, then we will each have 42,048,000 minutes in our lives. You could say that in respect to time, we all start out as millionaires and end up as paupers. For no one leaves this earth with even one minute left of time to spend.

I think we all spend our time perhaps more wastefully than we do our money. Imagine the moment when you will have only 60 minutes left to spend. How precious each of those minutes will be! We go through our days spending minutes like the proverbially drunken sailor. We yak on our cell phones, we create mindless diversions so the time will pass more quickly and we hardly ever really think of whether we are doing the important things in our lives or just wasting our minutes. We act like young children who think they will live forever. It never occurs to us that someday our bank of minutes will be near depletion and we will rue those minutes we simply threw away.

An old saying is that if you watch the pennies the dollars will take care of themselves. Well, if you watch the minutes, perhaps the hours and days will take care of themselves. How well do you respect your minutes? During each day, do you just hope the clock will move faster so you can do something else or do you cherish each moment? What is one way you can treasure your minutes more today? Can you spend just one minute today thinking about your joys and happiness and what it means to be alive? Can you reflect on how precious the last minute of your life will be or the last minute of a loved ones time with you?

Is your life filled with passion or with counting time?

I lost track of the time. Where did the time go? How often have you heard someone make this comment? Generally, it means we were so engrossed with what we were doing that we forgot we had another appointment or schedule. When we lose track of time, time no longer seems to exist. It is not moving fast or slow, it just does not seem to matter to us. I heard someone say recently that they did not wake up and say “gee, I have to go to work today.” Instead, they woke up and said “Wow, I get to go to work again today.” Can you imagine the difference between time for the first case and the second? Time in the first case is drudgery and time in the second is a joy.

When you do not enjoy what you are doing. Time matters the most to you. You check the clock. You wonder when the time will go by. You find ways to “break” up your time. The more “breaks” the better. When we enjoy or even love what we are doing, we forget the clock. We don’t worry about breaks or when will it be time to go home. Sean John’s says “life without passion is unforgiveable.” He lives this in his daily life. His message is important for all of us. How many of us find lives that are full of passion? Why not? Is such a life beyond our reaches or do we just fail to make the choice?

The more our world is dominated by time, by pressures to do things faster, to multi-task, or to live in the fast lane the less happy and more stressed we will be. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if time did not matter anymore and we could lose track of time on a permanent basis? What if our lives were so filled with passion that every second was one we could live with for eternity? What if passion replaced time in our lives? When was the last time you lost track of time? Can you hardly wait to go to work or do you count each workday between Sunday and Friday? Is your life filled with passion or wondering when the minute hand will move forward?

Is your time running out?

“Your time is running out” says the villain to the hero. How often have you heard this phase in the movies? Of course, we know that this is a lie. The villain’s declaration is just a cue for our heroine to spring into action. She will then surprise us with some type of unexpected near miraculous escape. Perhaps, she will fool the villain into talking long enough so she can manage her escape. This comment on time may be the most common phrase or at least one of the most common in all of theater. It is so melodramatic that authors can not refuse to use it.

However, what do you think you would do if your doctor said this to you? Perhaps at your next physical, you doctor tells you that “your time is running out.” Would you simply think of the metaphor of an hourglass with the sands of time running through it or would it strike a more essential chord of your being. I am going to guess the latter. You would want to know how much time you had left. You would want to know how you could escape this trap. If there were no way out, eventually you would start wondering how you should spend the rest of your remaining days. Suddenly time and its effective use would become the most important priority in your life. Many of us would drop the nonessentials and focus on only the truly important things in our lives.

Ironically, whether your doctor or a villain says it to you, it is a hundred percent true fact that time is running out for you each day. Do you know anyone who ever said “my time is running in?” Do you know anyone who knows the hour of their death? Maybe, you should think more about your real priorities each day before it is too late, before someone else tells you that your time is running out. Perhaps, you should be asking yourself today “What really does matter to me?”

Do you spend more time doing what matters or do you spend more time on the nonessentials? What would you change in your life if you were suddenly confronted with the fact that “Your time is running out?”

What does the idea of "Tempus Fugit" mean to you?

Tempus Fugit: The expression was first used in the verse Georgica written by Roman poet Virgil: Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, which means, “But it flees in the meantime: irretrievable time flees.” (Wikipedia). Two thousand years have past and sadly, no one has yet learned to retrieve time. As one grows older, the law of supply and demand enforces an increased value for time. Time is to the elderly as money is to youth. Time is a precious and scare resource that one values and seeks and that becomes more important later in life than when you are young. Yet, where money can be retrieved, time cannot. I can lose a fortune but if I waste ten years of my life, I can never recover the spent time. Who would not want to find the Fountain of Youth?

Time flies and flies and flies and ever I wish I could just “stop” the clock. Stopping the clock is possible on game shows and in some sports. However, we do have those special moments when time seems to stand still. When we are truly engaged in something or someone, time may not seem to be present in our lives. Like a hummingbird, time can hover in one place but only for short sequences. Inevitably the clock starts to move again and we return to the world of time and money.

As you go through the day, try to reflect on the Latin phase “tempus fugit” and see how and when your time flies. There is a value in truly treasuring the moments of our lives. Sometimes we seem to be trying to make time fly faster than it does. Are you in a hurry to get home, to go on that date, to get some job or chore done? In such cases, we can’t stand to see time standing still. We want tomorrow to happen today. It does not matter then that time flies. Where will your time fly today? Where would you rather have it linger like the hummingbird? Do you take enough time in the day to just let it hover for awhile? What would your life be like if you had more hover time and less “tempus fugit?”

Are you running your company by a time clock?

Time clocks are synonymous with the industrial revolution. Prior to industrial work, people thought of time as more cyclical. Time clocks went hand in hand with factory or machine and assembly line work. The concept of a “Time clock” is an oxymoron. Aren’t all clocks, time clocks? The industrial revolution was a period when brawn became more valued over brains. It was more important to measure the amount of time that a person worked (and this was equated with productivity and quantity) then the quality or creativity of their work. The information age and knowledge age has reportedly ushered in a quantum change in how we view and value work. Today, creativity and innovation have become highly prized, at least in word if not in deed.

One hears today that quality, creativity and innovation are the cornerstones of success in the 21st century business world. Nevertheless, we still see managers who seem more concerned with the time clock as a measure of productivity than anything else. How long did you work today is often seen as more important than how much you accomplished or what new ideas and innovations you could come up with. We talk about allowing workers to telecommute, yet many managers express the view that: “how will I know what they are doing or if they are really working?” “Well, perhaps they will not get their job done and then you would know!” We may live in the knowledge age, but the industrial era mindset is still dominant in many workplaces.

It often takes a generation before minds catch up with new technology and paradigm shifts. We have 21st century needs and technology still driven by 20th century minds and concerns. Companies that cannot make the change are destined to go the way of the dinosaur. The same might be said for managers who cannot change their mindset.

What do you value in your workplace? Do you measure how much your employees contribute, including ideas and innovations or are you measuring how long they work and how many hours they put in? Do you have the power to change things? If so, when will you go from the 20th century to the 21st? When will you start treating your employees like knowledge workers rather than machines?

Are you getting older or better?

We often hear the comment from someone getting older that they are “Aging like fine wine.” Well, yes, wine does gets better with age, but sadly, the human body does not. My joints and muscles are no longer as flexible as they once were. My body does not recover as fast from aches and pains as it once did, and I no longer dream of playing football on the weekends or any rough contact sports for that matter. My body seems to be aging more like cheese. It is getting softer and moldier around the edges. It might still be edible but it is not as fresh as it once was. The good side of this issue is that my brain is more nimble and astute than ever. The body will inevitably deteriorate, (even with plastic surgery), but the brain does not necessarily age the same way. Studies have shown that IQ can remain the same throughout one’s life, if you keep “exercising” the brain by reading, studying and learning. Now of course, the body will stay in better shape as well if you keep up with some exercising. However, no amount of exercising is going to keep the body in the same shape as when we were 21 or younger.

Then we come to the soul and spirit. Here is where age can really excel over youth. Through experience and moral exercise, we can all become better then we were. We can continue to grow spiritually and morally throughout our entire lives. We can leave this earth as better people. We can give back to the world some of what we took from it. However, this also requires exercise. It requires exercise of both moral and spiritual values. It requires moral and spiritual discipline. You will not grow in either area if you do not take the time to practice skills that lead to moral and spiritual development. The virtues of faith, hope, charity and love must be practiced daily or they atrophy like an old moldy cheese.

What exercise do you get each day? Do you exercise morally and spiritually as well as physically and mentally? Which areas do you need to concentrate more on? Are you aging like a fine wine or like moldy cheese? What do you need to do to perk up your aging process?

How well are you balancing your time demands?

Balancing time is one of the biggest juggling acts facing most of us. Considering how well we do, we should all think of ourselves as “jugglers of time.” We schedule this meeting, then that meeting and still another meeting and in between meetings, we must do paperwork, find time for lunch, get some errands done, meet with our boss and then get more paperwork done. We return home and then must balance time for ourselves, our spouses, our children, our family, our friends and also more errands, housework and chores that demand time.

I sometimes think that someone could make a fortune starting a time service for people. I would show up at your house and do all the minor things that take up so much time and don’t really add value to your life. Of course, if you have money, you may already be paying people to do the housekeeping, the yard, the chores etc. You are then juggling a variety of services that help to “save” you time. Many of us cannot afford these services and must juggle lives, jobs, chores etc, ourselves. As society has become more modern, we seem to be juggling more and more. Perhaps this is because we are not run by “natural” clocks anymore and in a sense (unlike milking cows or farm chores), the time we have is really discretionary. This puts more power in our hands to manage time but also demands more of our balancing skills.

What do you need to balance today? Are you balancing the unimportant things and forgetting to include the really important things in your life? Is your present balancing bringing you happiness and satisfaction or is your balance out of kilter?

Are you wasting your time away?

Stop wasting my time! This is a comment that is frequently heard and seldom reflected on. What does it mean to waste someone’s time? Does the person know they are wasting your time? What was the person doing that “wasted” your time? Is it like wasting food or wasting money? When someone tells you something that you are not interested in, does it waste your time? In a country where the average person watches more than 25 hours a week of TV, it seems preposterous that anyone could dare use a phrase like “stop wasting my time.”

We spend four hours per week watching people hitting a ball, carrying a ball, throwing a ball and bouncing a ball in games that we call sports, but we do not consider this a “waste” of our time. If sports and TV are not time wasters, then what qualifies? What wastes your time? Is this time when you are not doing anything? Whose fault is that if you have nothing to do? If we were honest, we would admit that most of us waste our own time with silly meaningless activities designed to take our mind off living and perhaps really accomplishing something. We are each experts at ways to waste time. TV, gambling, casinos, watching sports, newspapers, endless meetings, etc. are only a smattering of the myriad ways we each waste our time each day.

Wasting time may be a very subjective term, since what I think is very wasteful, you might think is very useful. My ideas of what constitute a valuable use of time might fit your definition of “time wasters.” Nevertheless, we all have our own ideas of what time wasting means to us.

What if more of us started “wasting” our time on the activities that could really make a difference to the world? What would the world be like, if more of us took an interest in government, law and politics and less in TV, gambling, sports and other activities? What if we spent more time in charitable activities, loving others, finding ways to bring peace to the world, building bridges and creating friendships with those in need? What if we spent 25 hours a week on these activities instead of watching TV? Could you spend one hour less on TV this week and one hour more on peace? Where would you start? When will you start? Why not today?

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