You can find the time

When someone says ‘I can’t find the time for that’ they usually mean that a particular activity does not interest them enough to find the time to do it. An example is finding time to visit a distant relative.

Although some people explain away the fact that they don’t visit by the excuse that they have too little time, most -would somehow find it if they were given £100 for each visit. The problem we all have with time is not how little we have, but how we choose to use it.

Of all the solutions that people try in order to reduce the pressure of time, there seem to me to be several worth remembering:

If you have a number of hobbies but never seem to get to grips with any of them, decide which is your favourite and concentrate on that. Having a low golf handicap will be more pleasurable to you than trying half a dozen other activities and hacking around a golf course each weekend. Make priorities for your leisure time. If you are taking up a certain sport, make sure you know how much time it will involve.

Rather than have work spill over into your leisure time, target two days in the week when you will accept a longer working day, but leave work on time the rest of the week. Keep work pollution of your free time to a minimum.

Starting on a Monday morning, make a diary of what you do each day for a week. Plan to spend 30-40 per cent of your time at work, 30-40 per cent at home with family or friends, and put the rest aside for yourself. If work is taking up more than this, there may be little you can do about it -these are the hours you need to work to survive financially.

It is patronizing to tell people in these situations to spend less time at work. If they could, they would. What such people need to do is view each non-working hour as priceless and spend it on something that is important. This may be family, following a football team, or watching television.

Whatever it is, once you have decided what is important you should not feel anxious about spending time on it.

Our lives change. Babies, new relationships and everyday stresses and strains mean we must be flexible about time. There are often occasions when individual preferences have to be sacrificed in the short term – for example when a partner is ill, or financial belts need to be tightened during a crisis.

View these as temporary measures and remember to look at the big picture — life is a marathon, not a 100-metre sprint.

You would not hand out money you cannot afford, so do not squander your most precious asset – time. It waits for no one. A dying millionaire told me he would burn all his money to be able to regain the time he had wasted. He had acted on the belief that there was always another day, and another after that, so he had never done all the things he wanted to, and now never would.

The old cliche of time waiting for no man was his epitaph.

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