Pay attention to the conversations of people around you, and notice how often the subject of time comes up:
“I’m fine, just crazy busy . . . ”
“I just don’t know when I can find the time . . . ”
“I can’t really talk now — I’m running late . . . ”
People used to be tied to things like families, communities, rituals, worship, curiosity, and beauty. Now we are tied to schedules, watches, date books, computers, and keeping up with the latest gadgets that start with i. It seems like time is going by faster than ever these days, and we’re all exhaustively trying to find, chase, save, and manage time.
Time-management techniques, as well as the latest time-tracking and productivity aids, can certainly be of help to us on the practical level, but they are limited in their long-term effectiveness, since the true nature of time extends beyond the chronological hours displayed on our calendars, wristwatches, and smart phones. Time management can improve what we accomplish but often at the peril of what we experience. Ironically, the more we desperately try to manage our time, the more fragmented we often feel.
Rather than simply managing our time, we can reimagine time itself and completely reshape our relationship to it. When we don’t have time, we have to create it, and the incredible news is that we can do so with one of the greatest resources ever to exist on our planet: human creativity.
The concept of “creating time” is not just about adding more hours in our day but creating a new relationship with time itself. Here are some good places to start:
1. Change the Way You Think about Time
For most of us, being stressed or worried about time has become second nature. The most immediate way to change these deeply ingrained patterns is to become more aware of the words you use when you think about and talk about time. Time reacts as if we’re yelling in a canyon; whatever we are saying about time comes back to us in our experience. If we are saying, “There’s never enough time,” then our experience echoes back, “Yes! There’s never enough time!” If, however, we are saying, “I have all the time in the world. More and more, I see that I have all the time I need,” then our experience is reflected back with a more expansive, flowing sense of time.
2. Change the Way You Measure Time
We typically measure time in linear fashion, with numbers on a clock and squares on a calendar to represent the movement of time. But what if we could interpret time as a qualitative entity instead of something just measured by quantity? Rather than measuring how long something takes, why not measure it by how much we learn by doing it, or how much love we are feeling?
Think about the moments in your life that have meant the most to you. Those moments are not viewed linearly at all but through a plethora of other measurements, such as intensity of experience, emotional depth, and even quality of color or the particular scent of the moment. We can learn from these experiences by applying a similar free-form perception in our everyday moments. So, in your day-to-day life, instead of measuring how long something takes, explore new measurements, such as how much joy you feel, how connected you are to other people, how grateful you are, how engaged you are in the topic at hand.
3. Change the Way You Experience Time
True freedom happens not when we see time as something separate from us but when we become one with time, partnering with it in a new way. We can invite it into a relationship, a dance, so that we can fall into oneness. When we are truly at one with time, we reach a blissful state of being less aware of time itself but more aware of the present moment.
Each moment you fully insert yourself in the present, you change your experience of time, shifting your focus away from how you spend time to instead reveling in what you receive from it.
Marney K. Makridakis is the author of Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life. She founded the print magazine Artella and the Artella online community for creators of all kinds. A popular speaker and workshop leader, she created the ARTbundance approach of self-discovery through art. She lives in Dallas, Texas. Visit her online at www.artellaland.com.