So You Think You Have a Lot of Time? Think Again!

“That time management stuff is a bunch of crap,” I heard a guy say a couple of months ago. “I just take life as it comes.”

He was about six feet tall, with gray-flecked beard, and a bit overweight. I wonder if he’s ever seen the Time Management Imperative curve? And, if he had, thought about its Implications.

It’s pretty simple. Layout a graph with an X and Y axis. On the X axis, mark a scale from zero to 78, the typical American live span. On the vertical Y axis, mark a point at 78. Now draw a line from that point on the Y axis to the point where 78 lies on the X axis. 

This is a line that represents the number of years you have left, assuming you live the average lifespan of a person in this country. Take a minute to put yourself on the curve. How many years do you have left?

Now, think about the value of each year (or hour) in those years you have left. To a child born at time zero, time may look cheap, or at least plentiful. The marginal value of an hour is pretty low. Now, think about the marginal value of a person’s final hour at age 78 (assuming, of course, they still have presence of mind). The value of that last hour might be priceless to that person. The dark line represents that marginal value.

Our perception of time changes as we get older. “Time flies,” is a typical comment by older people. They see the hour flying away while leaving a taste of the futility of things not accomplished. At any phase of life, time is a scarce resource. We get to use an hour once and then it’s gone. Bad habits, lack of focus, discouragement, disillusionment…you name it, can all waste this valuable resource. Also, life throws challenges at us, often throwing us off track. When these challenges are severe, it’s time to take stock and reset—ask ourselves some important questions

1. Knowing I have limited time, what’s important? To me, to my loved ones, to my community?

2. If I were to do five things in the next year, what would they be?

3. What are my primary time wasters? The bad habits? 

4. What relationships and activities give me energy and encourage my good work?

5. What saps my energy and how can I move away from it?

6. How will I keep score on the good things I accomplish?

7. How can I learn from mistakes and build on that knowledge?

8. Have I been drifting or exploring? 

9 How can I turn everyday into a learning day?

10. Do I project love to those around me?

OK. You get the idea. You will immediately think of other questions that should have been on the list. If you did, make your own list and keep them at hand. 

And if you decide to take a time management course, it might be a good decision.

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