I’ve met a lot of leaders and mangers in my coaching practice and corporate life. There are those who handle stress well and are, (sometimes irritatingly), calm and measured, reasonable and logical. There are some who are tightly wound springs, ready to pounce on anyone or anything, on ideas or on disasters. And of course, there are many in-between.
And all can be professionally and personally successfully and do good, even great, work for their companies.
What separates these two extremes is the personal cost.
Those who have become a tightly wound spring are often people for whom TIME has become an enemy. They are people who have the capacity to give and do great things but their quarrel with TIME gets in their way.
One of the attributes of people who thrive in fast paced, high pressure environments is that they can manage TIME – their time, other peoples time and the pace and flurry of interactions and activity, better than those who are over-wound springs. The former, create a feeling of space and optimism, the latter a dread of the next meeting, the next question the next deadline.
How do you know if TIME has become your enemy?
When you are time poor you feel pressured and sometimes even oppressed. You are often in a rush and when you talk about your life you sound like you’re in a battle with time. If you’re constantly saying, ‘it shouldn’t take this long’, ‘it shouldn’t be this difficult’, ‘I (we) should be able to do it quicker than this,’ then TIME has become your enemy.
How has TIME become your enemy?
Because your estimate of TIME is failing to reflect reality and is instead taking its cue from what was achievable in the past or is an ideal or expectation of what’s possible.
It’s not reality today. Because today, ‘it’ takes longer, ‘it’ is more difficult and more complex. And so ‘it’ needs a different TIME goal.
The constant battering of ‘shoulds’ about TIME create stress because even the simplest of things become disappointments, frustrations and annoyances that ultimately create a feeling of panic and overwhelm and completely drain your positive energy.
What does TIME as your enemy look like?
If this is you, then TIME has become your enemy rather than your friend.
What can I do to make TIME my friend?
Typically, when time has become your enemy it’s because you’ve become fixed in your view of TIME and have stopped evaluating it. You already believe you know how long it takes to do x, y & z.
So, you’ve stopped recalibrating.
The key to making TIME your friend is to allow yourself the opportunity to challenge what you believe you know about time.
One of the best questions to ask yourself is –
If I believe I can do this in x minutes, when was the last time I actually did that, really?
The most likely answer is ‘I don’t remember’. And not only don’t you remember, you probably don’t know where the estimate of x minutes came from in the first place.
Re-set TIME closer to reality
The task is simple. Allow yourself to recalibrate how long things take and re-set TIME closer to reality. Because every time you’re pushing yourself, you’re late for something, you’re in a rush or you’re feeling panicked, your estimate of TIME is incorrect.
TIME needs recalibrating. How long does it really takes to get up and out of the house in the morning, how long does it really take to get to a meeting or destination, how long do you really need to spend on email a day, how long do you really need to prepare for a presentation?
But do I have the TIME for reality?
Yes, you do. Because the pay off is greater clarity, less stress and anxiety, a calmer mind and body and a more positive relationship with work, life and the people around you.
And that means you make better judgements, find work easier to do and reclaim the feeling that you are achieving all you need to do.
And that’s worth having isn’t it?
So, remember, to catch yourself when you’re rushing, feeling stressed, late, annoyed at deadlines, and challenge yourself with the question If I believe I can do this in x minutes, when was the last time I actually did that, really?
And make the necessary changes, in your mind, and in your diary.
Lindsey Wheeler works as a strategic sounding board and personal development coach for business leaders where they are free to express and explore thoughts, business and personal challenges.
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