Wake up. Get dressed. Feed the kids. Get to work. Handle the emails. Start the projects. Curse the interruptions. You know the deal. That's life, we say. Oh no. Shame! Just like a current advert on TV: That's not life, honey. That's a schedule.
This is life; this is living: Taking time out for you. Reading, thinking, learning, making contacts, building relationships, building yourself. Discovering magnificence – in ourselves, in others and in our environment. The trouble is, most of us are just too busy running around and meeting our schedule, we don't have time to really live.
I've worked ‘flat out like a lizard drinking' for most of my adult life. I have been immersed in my business consulting and advisory work, speaking all over the world, raising my son, contributing to various community projects and completing postgraduate studies. I have always tried to cram too much into my schedule – excited about many things – often optimistic and unrealistic about what I could complete by when. Perhaps you know someone like me. My schedules ruled me, drove me, and wore me out. Until a serious health wake-up call caused me to learn a lot.
I'm not knocking schedules – they are essential for organisation. But they are a tool for life. Not a rule for life.
Perhaps you yourself are at the other end of the time or life management spectrum: A superbly disciplined organiser, with appointments and priorities carefully scheduled and always met. You might be frustrated with those who seem less organised. You might be missing spontaneity, a sense of freedom, and being in the moment.
There can be a range of realism where the two preferences merge in the middle, providing all of us with both practicality and possibility, and permission to be who we are. A place where we stop making impossible promises and allow ourselves plenty of time to be on time, relaxed and ready, for whatever is in our schedule. And where we allow ourselves time that isn't in our schedule: For daydreaming, for play, for self awareness. Where our very disciplined and organised friends are generous to themselves, and to us, allowing some flexibility and outrageously taking time out to celebrate life, leaving the schedule in a drawer now and again.
Healthy human behaviour nearly always requires the middle path. Julie Cubino of www.harmonyatlast.com says: “Time management is more than scheduling. It's freeing time so inspiration can flow.” Isn't that interesting? Discipline is a happy state, leading to freedom. Organisation is a relaxed construction, leading to fulfilment. And when we feel free, fulfilled and happy, we get more done anyway. Who would have guessed that? If you would like your life to go further, to give you more of what makes you happy, perhaps you could move to the middle. Do this by scheduling free time for inspiration, for just doing nothing, for joyful activity or inactivity, without feeling guilty or fearful. That's placing yourself in command of your life, and that's powerful.
I'm getting better at taking lunch-breaks – not just to eat, but to sit and enjoy life in the middle of the day. I deserve it, and I'm better for it. And you would be too. This is our life – and we want to be there for it, on time, for as much time as we can, to live it to the full.