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Time Management from 30,000 Feet Article by: Vic Conant

In this day and age, there’s really no excuse for any of us to complain about our time management, even though we all do. Time management is a skill that has been studied from every angle for years. The result is there are very learnable techniques available to each of us that we can employ to improve our time management.

So, let’s take a look at time management from a 30,000-foot perspective — at a level you might call “life management.”

Let’s start with the question “How well do you believe you’ve used your time so far in your life?” Like every other area of our lives, some degree of introspection is valuable and healthy; however, as we think about how we’ve used our time so far, we should make sure we don’t go overboard beating ourselves up about the mistakes or poor decisions we have made in the past.

I’d like to throw out the encouraging idea that each of us should be able to say that we, and all of our ancestors before us, have done a magnificent job of using time effectively up until now from a big-picture perspective.

Through millions of years of evolution, our predecessors have beaten all odds in an extremely hostile environment and somehow persisted. They survived, ultimately producing you and me, and since our birth we’ve successfully carried on and gotten ourselves perfectly to wherever we are at this moment.

If we had taken any other turn along our life paths, who knows where we might be today? We can second-guess our life’s decisions. For example, wishing we had bought Microsoft stock back in 1975 — then we’d be even wealthier today! However, if we had made any other decisions in our past, there isn’t any guarantee that we would even be alive today, much less healthier, wealthier, or happier.

I like this concept because it frees us from having to spend time regretting our past. Our past has perfectly gotten us to where we are now. We are survivors ready to positively experience whatever our future will bring us.

One of my favorite books, A Course in Miracles, says that “the purpose of time is to enable us to learn how to use time constructively.” It goes on to read, “Time is thus a teaching device and a means to an end. Time will cease when it’s no longer useful in facilitating learning.”

In other words, time’s only purpose is to facilitate learning. With that in mind, let’s ask another real easy question: “What are you using this lifetime to learn?

Once we know that answer, it will make our time management a lot easier, and, as Stephen Covey says, “You’ll be less likely to get efficiently to the top of the ladder and find it’s leaning against the wrong building.” Time management skills and techniques are the ladder, but you need to make sure you are climbing to the top of the correct building.

Once we have figured out what we’re here to learn, then we can best use our effective time management skills and the remaining time of our lives — which is hopefully decades rather than mere years — in pursuit of that learning.

This certainly makes me want to look at the bigger picture of my life and do what I can to make sure that I’m going down the best life path for my own learning.

This brings me back to my question: “What are you attempting to learn in this lifetime?” That ought to keep you busy for a little time.

Vic Conant is the President of Nightingale-Conant Corporation, the world leader in personal development. Learn more about Vic Conant.

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"First say to yourself what you would be: and then do what you have to do."

- Epictitus

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