Make time into your friend

Published 3:55 pm Monday, September 27, 2010

All of us are given the same 24 hours a day to manage. Those who are successful at living simply with style handle their time allotment so they are seldom bored or frazzled.

The first notion of time we must accept and practice in our lives is that its never too late.

We may have procrastinated in the past, but we can begin to take action today. Want to write poetry? Jot down a rhyme. Desire to lose weight? Change an eating habit over the next couple of meals. Thinking about a computer? Devote some time at a public library with a terminal. Have an unresolved conflict with family or friends? Pick up the phone or pen now. Come up with solutions to your usual excuses. Take advantage of that special gift, a second chance.

The other aspect of time is to understand how to hurry slowly. Savoring the moments, slowing down, and spending half our hours in quiet and calm all depict a person who is living wisely. Some people are able to discover this reflective pace by adjusting daily schedules. Others need to allocate special days for these peaceful pleasures. Treat yourself kindly.

When we find things we really want to do, well find the time to do them. This is one of lifes difficult lessons: No matter what people claim their dreams might be, their real dreams and values are expressed by how they spend their time. We may not be able to instantly achieve a dream, but if were serious, we can take the first steps. If we truly desire to travel, well make an excursion, even if its to a nearby park rather than around the world. If we have a passionate desire to read, well do it even if it requires reserving a small block of time in our schedule. If youre still struggling, create a deadline or have a reward ready for taking action.

An eye-opening exercise is to discover how you spend your days. If youve kept an appointment calendar, you can look back over the past year and made a list of things. Put them in two columns, fill one with the less-than-wonderful experiences; in the other, list the rewarding events. You may be surprised at how much time was squandered on the trivial and how little on your passions. If you dont have the appointment calendar to review, start making notes each day on how much time you allocate to each activity. Naturally, the goal is to identify the times youre happiest and expand them, while noticing times when youre least happy and reduce them.

Be wary of common time leeches. Too much attention focused on items such as TV, the news, gossip, complaints, celebrities, social networking, etc. can drain much of your energy with little positive to show for it. Put more effort into choices that reward you emotionally, physically, or financially.

Our lives blossom when we carefully nurture how we use our time. When we balance our reflective moments with our active ones, when our stated priorities coincide with our usage of time, we find that time becomes our trusted friend.

Editors Note: The Smiths have two new websites for their two new books: www.endangeredthebook.com and www.winning-wines.com. Both books are for sale at The Book Shelf in Tryon. This article is based on one of Mara & Ford Smiths 101 Secrets for a Great Retirement. That book and others by Mara and Ford are available at Tryons Book Shelf.