The Compression of Time
What is the one quantity in life that is finite but actually you never know how much you have of it? Time. As a young person time stretches out ahead to a seemingly infinite, distant horizon, everything seems possible and time is something that we feel we have so much of that we indulge in wasting some of it.
As we get older we often realise with surprise, just how long ago a significant event happened. When I was young my father used to talk about WW2 as though it was yesterday, to me growing up in the 60’s and 70’s it was the stuff of history books. Think back now, Chernobyl was in 86, the Falklands war was in 82, John Lennon was killed in ’80, 9/11 was in 2001. As you get older, time seems to compress, so now I understand that for my father the war was a very recent memory.
On his retirement my father, who trained as a horologist, made clocks, grandfather clocks and bracket clocks and copies of old masters, many have the latin “Tempus Fugit” inscribed on the dial, with their rhythmic tick tock they are a constant reminder in these days of digital timekeeping that time is inching by relentlessly.
Using Time Efficiently
Steve Jobs in his 1985 Stanford Commencement Speech said:’ “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something” See the speech here.
Where does your time go? Try to figure out how much time per day you spend:
- Thinking about things you haven’t done
- Doing things you don’t want to do
- Doing things you wish you had said no to
- Doing things as part of a process thats never challenged
- Being interrupted by people
The chances are that this adds up to about 50% of your day.
What can you do to make more efficient use of your time?
- Try to recognise and adapt around the inefficient elements
- Gravitate to tasks that you enjoy doing and are really good at
- Take time to plan and review your day and understand where your time is spent, after all you track your finances
- Recognise that time is a precious commodity and use it well
- Don’t be afraid to challenge routine, remember if you get a time wasteful process changed for the better it benefits not just you but everyone else who uses it