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Your Gift of Time. Monday December 15, 2014

Time is one of the Universe's fair resources. Prince or Pauper, Goose or Gander, we all have 168 hours per week. No one can buy more time for us – not really, and no one can, in reality, buy our time. (Of course, we can agree to spend our time in a certain way on behalf of someone else – but it remains our time.)

Here's the scene... A long journey lay ahead of me the next day. I was going to use Public Transport and the potential for delays and complications was magnified by each additional connection. I knew taking responsibility by driving to my destination was actually only an illusion of control. I would be subject to the choices other people made to use the same roads. Their choices could also delay my planned progress. So which to choose?

Up until now, my life has been lived "at the last minute". By this I mean allowing just enough time to get from A to B so that I could spend my time on other interesting or distracting things as well. Unsurprisingly, this often allowed stressors to mount up like a wave and flood my ability to cope every time I was late. 90% of the time, this was my fault. It was a result of how I chose to allocate my use of time.

For my long journey, I chose a new strategy. I would get up ridiculously early and get ready as if it was a day off with no pressing commitments. No rushing my bathroom time. No panic. No outbursts of bad temper when something (usually an inanimate object) was "stupid" for not doing what I wanted it to do. I would also catch the train that the timetables said would get me there just in time.

The plan went well, and I got ready in a calm and pleasant manner. In fact this was so efficient that I was then in a position to catch an earlier train... if I hurried. The sense of panic was horrible. It made sense to get there early just in case anything went wrong... My heart beat faster... Time to choose...

But my willingness to maintain the experiment prevailed. I decided to catch my intended train, giving me plenty of time to get to the station, get my tickets and park without panic.

So I drove sedately to the station while other commuters, dancing to the beat of another drummer, zoomed past me at illegal speeds. There was no queue at the ticket office – after all, I was there at the wrong time! I had a chat with the member of staff who sold tickets. He was amazingly clued in on how to get the best deal – and I even got a better deal that what the internet had suggested as the best deal. We had a nice chat.

I then had time to pop into the independent coffee shop in the station and have a life-affirming chat with two very charismatic members of their team. When I came out, the queue outside the ticket office was long and filled with frustrated time-pressed people.

I caught the train, on time. I got to my final destination, on time. I got back in a similar way. And I had lots of very pleasant encounters on the way. I left the computer behind all day. I read books.

My experiment was a success, and I was nice to be around. I did good business. I hope I've learned something.

Give yourself the gift of your time... there's nothing like this present.

A Moodscope member.

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Nicole Ichtertz Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 5:52am

Thank you thank you thank you for this! I have huge issues with time, and always rushing, and always being late for things. But when I do take the time to be early, everything works in my favor. Thank you for writing this, I am going to print it out and pin it to my wall as a reminder!

Hopeful One Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 6:44am

Hi Lex- thank you Lex .So appropriate for me today as I am going to do a long train journey . I will keep your wise words in my mind as I go along.

Julia Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 7:45am

I had to get up early, too early for me, today to take my son to the airport. I laughed when I read your blog; so amusing. First for me laughing at this time of the morning.But I am late so must rush. Ha

Anonymous Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 11:06am

Excellent post Lex; and of course, if as car drivers we all adopt the same attitude, then there would be less road rage - double plus!

The Entertrainer Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 11:56am

Hi Nicole
We all need gentle reminders of what we really do already know in our hearts, don't we.
If only I followed my own best counsel all the time!
Time is the stuff life passes through, so I get the value of not wasting it, but I also get the value in not over-filling it either.
There has been so much joy this week in allowing myself a buffer on all my commitments... as you have discovered in your own life.
I hope you have a lovely day, rich in the time to do what you'd truly like to do.

The Entertrainer Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 11:58am

Hello Hopeful One!
Preparation can make such a difference, can't it? The books made such a difference to the journey I was talking about.
I hope your long train journey becomes a pause for thought, a time of rest and refreshment, and a source of inspiration.

The Entertrainer Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 11:59am

Ha Ha Julia... brilliant! May there be peace and quiet in the midst of your rushing.
Gute Fahrt!... as they say in Germany...

The Entertrainer Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 12:01pm

Hi Frankie
It's amazing the difference the right internal environment makes to a car journey, isn't it? The right music or learning CD and I find myself frustrated when the journey is over! The car can be such a sanctuary. Calm music, and I drive calmly... if I've given myself enough buffer time!
Hope you are having a brilliant day!

tylerchill Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 1:08pm

I'm reading this the first time I got up early enough to sit down and have a cup of coffee before I head for the train.

Anonymous Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 2:01pm

I am someone who has been chronically late for everything since I was a child.My grandmother used to tell me I'd be late for my own funeral! I've heard it's a sign of hostility! But I think I just can never get myself together on time.Our NY Mayor DiBlasio seems to have the same problem,and is roundly criticized for always being late for everthing.People say it shows disrespect for his intended audience.So I really enjoyed this blog,Lex.I'm off today so I won't be late for work by taking time to read it! Thank you for a great read!!.

heather Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 3:54pm

Dear Lex, I haven't read Moodscope for a while, partly because of all sorts of things that have been happening to me and partly because it hasn't been coming up in my normal Inbox, but this one did and I was so glad as I have a real problem with not being able to get ready until the last minute - even if I have plenty of time to do so. It is as if I need that extra stress to make me get going but frequently I am flying round the house at the last minute looking for my purse and dashing out of the house with wet nail varnish, arriving on time by the skin of my teeth or late. I think you have suggested my New Year Resolution - don't normally make them but this is obtainable. Thanks. Love from Heather x

heather Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 4:05pm

PS You changed your photo - I like it !

Mary Blackhurst Hill Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 4:10pm

Brilliant as always, Lex! I remember, way back in the nineties, on a course, the instructor asked the class to split two ways, with the people on the left who were always late and the people on the right who were always, but always, on time. The job of the people on the right was to coach the people on the left so that they too, could learn to be on time. I learned so much that day about building in time to gather my stuff, time to forget something and go back for it; time for traffic delays, time to find a parking space; time to forget something in the car and go back for it; time to find the office I was looking for. These days I'm almost invariably on time, sometimes to the split second, but I'm often half an hour early. What I need to learn to do now is relax and be OK with it, as that half hour spare fills me with a driving need to fill it profitably. Sometimes I write Moodscope blogs in my head....

The Entertrainer Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 4:25pm

Hi Heather... glad you like the picture! I'm going to suggest a gift to yourself for Christmas - as indeed I recommend to all my Moodscope friends who took time to chat today (and especially to those friends who didn't have the time!!!) The gift is to buy the audio version of David Allen's title, "Getting Things Done!" If anyone has a vocation to teach "Action Management" as he calls it, it is David. I was even inspired (temporarily) to get excited about filing! He's lovely to listen to - and it is SO practical... a rare treat in a business title.

The Entertrainer Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 4:29pm

Hello Mary,
I think you'd love David Allen's "Getting Things Done" as well. He has a practical strategy for what he calls "Discretionary Time" - those gorgeous moments when you find you have to 30 minutes to invest.
I recognise strongly that time management and action management are both very dependent upon psychological types (hence your exercise in class). However, it's always a choice and it's always fair (168 hours per week for each and every one of us). So, I'm toughening up to choose more time. It sounds like a paradox but I'm already a far happier chappy!
Keep writing those excellent blogs...

Mary Blackhurst Hill Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 7:38pm

Such is your influence over me that I have just clicked the "buy it with 1-click" button!!!
I shall let you know if I become more productive and less stressed!

Silvia A Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 8:10pm

I am coming late and have no opportunity to read the entire post. I would like to add my contribution. I was such a fan of GTD that I participate in his earlier forum when he developed a kind of course with a monthly CD. I also helped a friend create the first group to discuss GTD in Brazil. In a month we were 30 people, in a few months 100 members, before one year almost 1000 participants.

I myself found an Englishman method more fitted to my needs. Mark Forster is kind of a hero for us, because he is always discovering the definitive method that will solve the question of time management. For me he is a hero for those who suffer from procrastination!

Silvia A Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 8:29pm

Now let me say what worked for me in GTD:
- first of all the notion of next action
- then what a project is, how simple in terms of a sequence of actions or verbs
- the habit of capture - a gtd-er always have lists and check lists
- the weekly review

These are the details, but the study of GTD and other great authors about time management worked better for me than any therapy and really changed my way of living.

I was able to become punctual - not as my mother, of course. I was able to plan whatever action and get things done. This happened around 2005.

What I didn't like in GTD, not only me but many other people, is the amount of time I spent in the system itself. And the time on the web reading about GTD. And the pride of being a GDT. In the end , after reading MF's book (Mark Forster) and following his forum and his new systems, I preferred his and now I have a simple notebook arranged in my way and check lists.

By the way, when asked about his wife , he said: she is a doer. Rarely she makes a list. She gets things done by her own nature. Like my mother, too.


Conclusion: I think GTD gave me the structure to think and understand how to be reliable person. But after two or three years, I stopped reading about it. MF's forum is the one I still visit to see what people are talking.

If someone else wants to read more about Time Management, I suggest
Stephen Covey, Brian Tracy and Harold Taylor, Tony Alessandra. And see what approach works best.

Silvia A Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 9:01pm

During this time I also discovered BYY - Best Year Yet by JInny Diztler. I have a testominal of mine published many years ago. I keep reading Jinny's articles and going through BYY when possible. I wished I was able to do BYY every year.

Here is the book with the ten questions:

The combination of Time Management (listed above) with BYY is a great one!
Mary , you can try it menawhile, even before becoming a master in GTD!

Lex, your comment ignited in me the will to go back to them for a refreshing review.

Thank you very much for your sunny way of being and writing.


Silvia A Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 9:08pm

I was always late and my friends were worst than me. Please read how reading about time management changed my life, better then a therapy.

Silvia A Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 9:22pm

Mary, my mother is the person who is always on time. We lived far from school, never get late. However I always entered the car with everything in my hand to finish there, 45 min in a road, every morning. I had to finish to get dressed, put the socks and the shoes, comb my hair etc.
My mother always explained these same points you mentioned, specially time for traffic delay. However,her excepcional example in planing. She used to have more than 20 persons at home during the Summer vacation for a whole month, and never a meal was late, or she and my father had to modify their routine and go to bed later. Things run smoothly and I learnt nothing. That is why GTD and the conceptions I mentioned gave me the foundation to understand her way.

Silvia A Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 9:25pm

ops, wrote in a hurry,missed a proof reading, sorry !

heather Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 10:38pm

Lex, do you think this would be helpful for me as I am a retired person (doing a multitude of things but not actually having to work). If you think so I will definitely get it. Thanks Heather x

The Entertrainer Tue, Dec 16th 2014 @ 5:09am

Hi Silvia
It's really exciting for me to see how you became ignited by today's post.
I am also excited to follow your links.
Thank you for all your contributions.

The Entertrainer Tue, Dec 16th 2014 @ 5:11am

Definitely, Heather! Time in retirement is as important if not more so - and you'd have the sense of 'closing open loops' as David Allen describes them. This is the nagging discomfort we have, psychologically, with leaving 'stuff' yet undone. I'm keen to follow Sylvia's links too.
Best, Lex x

The Entertrainer Tue, Dec 16th 2014 @ 5:17am

Please let me know how you get on, Mary.
Silvia has shared great wisdom about perhaps going into it too deeply - I think you'll walk away with some ideas that you can take action on.
You won't have to adopt everything (though it's all fab).
Hugs x

Michael wx Tue, Dec 16th 2014 @ 7:12am

I am always late for things, planning to leave at the last minute but invariably being late before I've even left the house. Luckily I don't have trains to catch, but I have always been a 9.05 - 9.20 arrive at work person, even when I only worked 2 miles away. I have resolved a number of times to fix this but it never lasts long. However, you description of your lovely day has inspired me to tackle this once again. Great blog Lex.

DawnC.Ritchie Tue, Dec 16th 2014 @ 8:40pm

How lovely. I felt calm just reading your blog :D thank you Lexi-calm.

The Entertrainer Wed, Dec 17th 2014 @ 5:37am

Hi Michael
I'm so glad I inspired you.
And, if you are like me, there may be set-backs!
I am naturally curious and easily distracted - and that's where I 'lose time'.
Let's resolve to hold giving ourselves the gift of time as a positive intent - and if that intent slips, just to pick it up again until it becomes more natural.

The Entertrainer Wed, Dec 17th 2014 @ 5:38am

You always make me smile x

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