OK, so you want to learn how to manage your time better. The first tip is that you have to change your paradigm from time management to self management. You have to realize that it’s not time that’s being managed, it’s you. Once you become enlightened, it’s a different ballgame. What is fascinating is that everyone, from the greatest men and women to the least, has the same amount of time from moment to moment. It’s how we function within this framework that determines what we get done. Each of us is different and there is no universal way of self-management. For some, a long “to do” list and a rigid schedule are key ingredients to productivity. For others, this way of self-management is too intimidating and labor-intensive. I remember trying to commit to a daily task list. For a week, I took 30 minutes each night before bed to write down and review what I needed to do the next day. I became so stressed out that I needed the next two weeks to catch up on my sleep - and got even less done than before! Yet, for many others, this way works.
The secret to finding the best way for you is knowing who you are and what it is that motivates you to do what you do. The next helpful hint is the idea that everything you do is a choice. You are always weighing one thing against another. “I have to go to work” you say. Realistically, you don’t have to do anything. You are choosing to go to work based on the consequences of what will happen if you don’t. You might say, “Well, if I don’t go to work, my patients will leave, my practice will fall apart, my wife will divorce me, my kids will hate me, my employees will be out on the street, and I’ll be bankrupt.” This is all probably true! Thus, it’s far less painful to go to work, so you do - but it’s still your choice. Seriously, everything you do is a choice that you’ve made from the important to the mundane. When you really think about it, you actually do control much of your destiny. Now that you’ve been empowered, it’s time to move on to the simplest, yet most profound hint.
Ekhardt Tolle wrote a wonderful book titled, “The Power of Now.” Essentially, he says that all we have is the present moment. The past is gone and the future imagined. This is a very powerful concept. What you do from present moment to present moment is what really determines where you go. This concept doesn’t mean you should forget about the past and future, it just says that no matter what, the only place you exist is in the present. Therefore, one must choose how these moments are spent based on whatever one finds to be important. For some, it’s vital to be busy every minute of every day; for others, boredom is wonderful. Only you know what’s really important, how you want your life to be, and how committed you are to making it that way. You must determine the choices you have to make in order to fulfill that.
OK, so where am I going with all of this? In order to manage your time, you need to have the self-discipline and self-knowledge to make the choices that best fulfill your values and needs. In your own way, you need to prioritize your needs and values in order to move in the direction you want to go. You are the captain of your own ship, and you can either drift with the tide to destinations unknown, or travel a well-laid-out path from point A to point B. It’s up to you to decide - and then manage yourself accordingly.
Dr. Jeff Rosow graduated from the University of Connecticut Dental School in 1980. He completed his residency at Connecticut Valley Hospital, a state psychiatric institution, where he has continued to work full time. He has served as dental director at the hospital the past 13 years. Dr. Rosow is an avid sailor, who is affiliated with various boating organizations. He also enjoys yoga and personal development. Dr. Rosow can be contacted at (860) 262-6327, or e-mail [email protected].