Out of all the substances we abuse and misuse in our world today, the greatest is time. Every single day that passes, we lose 24 hours that we’ll never get back. Day after day, month after month, and year after year goes by. Time is slipping through our fingers, and we are all frantically looking for time management skills so that we don’t find ourselves ten years from now wondering where our life went. Be honest with yourself – how much time do you spend thinking about time? How often are you trying to squeeze productivity out of every moment of your day?
The truth is that we do need time management skills, but those skills can only get us so far. While productivity is something that you can master and engrain in your daily habits, it isn’t likely what you think.
You see … productivity is much less about time management as it is about mind management. How well we manage the hours in our days depends on how well we can manage and harness the power of our mind and mental energy.
I’ve shared with you before several different ways to improve your time management skills.
- I’ve written on several occasions that you should plan your day (which is absolutely true).
- I’ve written to tell you how to use a planner (still necessary).
- I’ve written to show you how to organize your week for maximum productivity (I stand by this 100%).
- I’ve even written about managing your email inbox (this is a must do).
So I’m definitely not going back on any of that. All of those time management skills still apply. But they will be much easier to master if you can take effectively manage your mind.
This post is part of my new series…FROM SURVIVE TO THRIVE where we are going to build up the mindset to CRUSH our goals and go after our WILDEST dreams by building a plan and getting started NOW.
Manage your Time by Managing your Mind
So if you are reading this post looking for new time management skills, I don’t have any for you today. What I do have for you will make all of the past and future time management skills I talk about so much more powerful.
While time is a limited resource, there are things we can do every day to give our mental energy a boost and become more efficient and productive with our time. In order to do this, you have to become self-aware. You have to tap into your subconscious mind.
How? Use meditation to become mindful.
Ok – before you roll your eyes and close this page down … please don’t! Give me a few of your precious minutes and allow me to explain.
I started meditating about six months ago. I try to spend about 15-20 minutes a day in meditation. Here is how this morning’s session went.
I concentrated on my breaths, and I could feel myself relaxing a little bit more with each exhale. I could almost feel all of my concerns drifting away. My mind became clear and empty. It was glorious!
For about five seconds…
As soon as I had emptied my mind, the thoughts came racing back in. I started thinking of invoices I needed to send, the title of my next blog post and wondering if the baby would sleep long enough for me to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace. My forehead got an itch, and I was dying to scratch it. I started to get anxious because I knew I had a lot on my plate today, and I wondered how I would get it all done. What was I doing just sitting here? I wanted to open my eyes and jump on the computer.
Here is the important thing though – I wanted to get up. I wanted to scratch my forehead. I wanted to think. But I didn’t allow myself to do any of those things. I fought each thought back and refocused on my breath.
Meditation Teaches Us To Resist Counterproductive Urges
Sometimes we don’t follow through on the things we want to do. We procrastinate. We put it off. We get distracted.
Other times, we do follow through on the things we don’t want to do. We talk instead of listen. We give into peer pressure. We waste hours on social media.
By becoming mindful through meditation, you will increase your capacity to resist the millions of distractions that threaten your productivity every day. You will be able to make better decisions. You can become intentional with your time. You will gain the skills to think through the outcome of your actions before you act on impulse. You will be able to learn a new skill or behavior and change the old habits that hold you back.
Being able to resist distraction is probably the most important of all the time management skills.
I am a big advocate of enhancing our environment to support our goals so that we can rely the least amount on willpower. So you can exercise in the morning, you can program your computer to shut down the ability to check email, or you can turn off notifications on your cell phone. There are hundreds of ways you can try to eliminate distractions. But sometimes, you are going to have to rely on good old-fashioned self control and discipline.
Meditating will strengthen that muscle. Your urges will (unfortunately) not disappear. But you will be much better equipped to deal with them. You will have control of your mind instead of your mind having control over you.
Mediation will Teach you Focus
Gaining control of your mind allows you to zoom in, zoom out, and pause. You will learn how to focus (zoom in), gain perspective (zoom out), and pause. With these time management skills in place, you will have created the space to:
- Be present in your daily life
- Be a better listener and communicator
- Avoid the mutitasking trap
- Prevent acting on impulse
- Break bad habits
- Worry less
- Catch yourself before things catch you
In other words, you will have the clarity to stop and consider where you focus your attention. Do you really want to browse Facebook, or would you rather wrestle with your child for ten minutes? Watch a rerun of an old show or get a good night’s rest? Check email every five minutes or get that lingering task completed?
A mere moment of focused attention can increase the quality of each minute, each hour, and ultimately our lives.
Meditation Reframes your Mind
Sometimes the best thing we can do to turn around our outlook on the world is to consciously reframe our thoughts. By gaining control of our minds, we are able to do this on autopilot.
I remember when doing barn chores was a dreaded part of my day. I thought it was a big waste of time, and I didn’t enjoy it. I just tried to hurry through and finish. Since then I have consciously reframed my mind, and now it is one of the most relaxing hours of my day. I now (just so happens) use it for meditation or self-development. I am with nature. I am getting exercise. The sounds of horses munching on hay relaxes me and quiets my mind. All it took was a small adjustment in perspective. It is easy to do and extremely rewarding.
Is Meditation one of the Best Time Management Skills to Develop?
Time is all what we make of it. We each own our own time. We live in a world of over-information, and we could easily spend our time enveloped trying to absorb it all. But all we gain through information is knowledge. By knowing ourselves and our minds, we gain wisdom.
“Time is an excellent servant but a poor master”
Give it a try. It is now or never, and you can’t afford to wait.
Meditation for Beginners
I won’t pretend I’m an expert. But I’m getting better. I suggest you start very simple.
Sit with your back straight or lay flat on your back.
Set a timer for five minutes.
Close your eyes and relax.
Don’t move except to breathe until the timer goes off.
Focus on the movement of your breath. Every time a thought enters your head, bring your attention back to your breath.
It sounds simple, but it is challenging. Try it today and then again tomorrow.
Before you know it, you will be so good at mastering your mind that your goals won’t stand a chance!
OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES
The From Survive to Thrive Series is all about changing your mindset and taking decisive action. We are going to start putting a plan in place to take your dreams out of your head and make them a reality. As you know, planning is a critical piece of the puzzle. Be sure to download your worksheet because we are going to talk about it each week throughout the series.
I’ll be updating this post with links to the other posts in the series as I write them, so you may want to save or pin this post if you plan to follow along. You can also subscribe to email updates so you don’t miss anything.
Post 1: The Fine Art of Failure
Post 2: Developing a Growth Mindset
Post 3: How to Achieve your Dreams
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