Many are discovering that today’s life- and work-style takes them to a “time desert” where you feel you have no time, no choice, and your world is compressed. We can either endure the desert or look to create our own “time oases” in our lives.
What is a time oasis?
It’s the experience of where to go in order to have a sense of available time, choice, spaciousness for living, and the ability to engage with new choices and possibilities. We at least want to find where we have enough time to keep up with our commitments.
To find and create our time oasis we first of all need to recognize the big time sucks that have imprisoned us in a time jail. Then we can breakout to more available time and choice.
Let’s begin with the time robbers that visit us. They come as stories that we fall into, that we believe, and that shape what we see and what we choose. One of these stories is that “our time is not our own.” We become the victim of our schedules, not the choosers of our schedules.
Let me give you an example. I’ve worked with many executives who lament that they receive hundreds of emails a day. How on earth can they have productive time with so much demand on it. They can never catch up, but they must try.
Recognize the story?
They have become victims of external demands. Who said that anyone could send them a request for a response and they were obligated to respond? They did. Or rather they assumed that was the case and didn’t see that they had a choice.
A fundamental way to create a Time Oasis is to manage your time by saying “no” and organizing where your time goes to support your important promises. As an executive I found that I was inundated by emails from people copying me in conversations that I was not an actor in. I did two moves that eliminated my wasted time and focused me on what was important.
- I set up regular meetings and interactions with those who reported to me and people I was in direct conversation with for action.
- I informed everyone else to eliminate me from their copy list on emails in conversations in which I had no active engagement.
There are other situations where our time seems to be drained from us, but the first place is to take a stand for your own Oases – decide what commitments, conversations, and activities that you are in and out of. Next we’ll examine the stories that we fall into that we don’t have this choice.