Have you ever been in that special zone where everything happens magically and in the perfect order? The tasks at hand seem to get done easily in the time available.
Have you ever had a day when things don’t go according to plan? The world seems out to get you and you feel like you are pushing water uphill.
These two states of being are of course opposite ends of the spectrum and might inspire you to thing you had better improve your time management. Now the vast majority of time management systems focus on better prioritization and minimalisation of interruptions. This is a Good Thing.
There is however a completely lateral way of getting more done in less linear time and that’s to change the speed and nature of your thoughts so you become more productive and creative.
The perceived passage of time is affected by our consciousness, attention and awareness. We can make use of this phenomenon when approaching creative tasks to changing our relationship with time at a fundamental level.
Here’s five mindful hacks to get more done in less time – together they introduce a new way of being and doing – that of timefulness!
Hack #1 : Breathe Like a Baby
The life expectancy of a giant tortoise is around 120 to 140 years and an elephant lives for around 80 to 90 years. While our own life expectancy is increasing, in the Western world at least, go back 150 years and it was between 50 and 60 years. Now here’s the thing. A tortoise breathes around 4 times every minute. An elephant breathes around 8 times every minute and we breathe around 12 to 15 times every minute.
So the first tip to changing our relationship with time is to breathe more slowly. To begin we need to use our diaphragm and to do belly breaths. This of course is how a baby breathes. We’ve just got out of the habit.
Now you don’t have to do it all the time but just doing 7 to 9 deep and slow breaths at the start of the day is enough to slow things down. You can also do it before any creative task or if you have been stressed. It works especially well if you are running late for a meeting. By breathing more slowly, we ‘expand’ time.
What’s even more magical is that this technique works in groups too or when working one to one with clients. This technique costs nothing to try and it’s even possible that we can lose weight this way while increasing our life expectancy
Hack #2 : It’s Mad Not to Meditate
Before I started meditating about 10 years ago, I thought it was both a waste of time and that there was no way I could make my over-active mind go quiet. Nowadays, if I miss my morning meditation, I actually have a worse day.
It might sound counter-intuitive but by taking 10-20 minutes of ‘me time’ each day, you claw it back in bucket loads throughout the day. You become less stressed and notice serendipities. So one chance encounter can save you hours in searching for just the ‘right thing’. It’s also reckoned the health benefits alone make it worthwhile and that each minute you spend in meditation gets added to your potential longevity.
Meditation too is not about sitting in a dark room in the lotus position chanting “Om”. A walk in nature or a park is a great tonic too. Be sure to look up though as this takes the mind out of its internal chatter
Hack #3 : One Thought at A Time
The normal human mind can only have one thought at a time. So just think about what you are thinking about right now and the thing you are thinking about gets replaced with the thought you are having about that thought.
Just pause for a moment, read the above sentence again and just check the validity of this notion.
Armed with this knowledge about the way we think, this gives us the most amazing insight when it comes to our time management. If we are focused on anything else other than the task in hand, time will slip away from us.
Accordingly, these are the three main bandits time:
• Fretting over the past
• Worrying about the future
• Thinking about something else other than what you are working on
So the key to making the most of our time is to ‘get in the zone’ and focus solely on what you are doing right now. When thoughts other than the ones we want to think arrive, a simple way to make them go away is to ask them about their purpose. Great enlightenment comes from this simple task.
Hack #4 : One plus one can equal three
It is an urban myth that the left brain is logical and the right brain is creative. Both sides of our brains are involved in both activities. When it comes to time, it is now thought there is a significant difference in how each hemisphere interacts with it. It appears that the left hemisphere (for most of us) sits inside space and time and that the right hemisphere sits everywhere and ‘everywhen’ else.
When we are ‘in that zone’ what is happening is that both hemispheres are working at the same time. The left brain handles the detail while the right brain holds the whole of the work ‘in mind’.
If we get bogged down with ‘left brained’ self doubt, our productivity drops significantly. If we sit dreaming about fame and fortune, our work doesn’t get done either. To get both brains working together, just breathe through alternate nostrils five times before embarking on a creative activity.
Hack #5 : Inner Mind Time
If you have ever regretted not trusting your gut, here’s why. It is now known our gut mind, which contains more neurons that a cat’s brain, operates about 5 to 10 seconds ahead of our conscious mind. It is an active mind center involved with decision making and getting us to pay attention to what is important to us. This might be an oncoming car as we are about to step off the sidewalk or something on a web page we are scanning.
So by forming a new relationship with out gut mind, we not only save time but we can be ‘ahead of time’ too. Our gut likes to be talked to and consulted. Say ‘Hi’ to it a few times a day and ask for its advice. You will make friends with an old and faithful companion.
So, by being mind-full not mind-less, and by engaging fully with both of our brain hemispheres and our inner mind centers, we get into that space where our productivity soars. The other collateral benefit of using these techniques is that we generate an intention field which seems to stop all interruptions coming in. What’s not to like?