Important Points of Time Management
One of the root causes of stress & burnout is time pressure. If we understand how to manage time, one can easily handle stress & burnout.
What Is Time?
Basically, time is a period in which something occurs. In today’s world, many people regard time as a commodity. For example, they say, “time is money,” and believe that time can be spent, saved, wasted, lost or even borrowed. This common perception of time focuses on the external, objective, and material by-products that occur during the passing of time. But unfortunately, this common paradigm of time ignores the subjective, internal focus toward the mindbody- emotions and the innate pleasure of human connectedness.
Early on, life on earth evolved in response to cycles of nature such as day and night, the ebb and flow of tides, and hot and cold seasons. As humans evolved, we developed a multitude of biological clocks inside us to balance with the rhythms of nature. It is not surprising that the human concept of time grew out of cycles associated with daily, monthly, and annual rhythms.
This natural “default” perception of the time cycle has been replaced in contemporary life with linear time that is arbitrarily imposed and forcefully learned. By the newly set default, many people perceive time as a finite, linear thing, as illustrated by the expression, time line. A time line has a beginning and an end—it’s finite. Furthermore, when a time line is followed, the other aspect of time, a time cycle, is ignored. For example, working against a deadline is linear time—a time line—whereas shifting the focus from alone time to affiliation with others, from work to play, and mundane routines of day and night, reflect cyclical time. Many children and animals follow a continual time cycle, while many adults follow a time line. In fact, linear time doesn’t exist in nature, and it opposes the creative drives by the fact of its interference with the biological rhythms (as illustrated by the physiological imbalance of night shifts or jet lag). Finally, a symbol of cyclical time is the cycle of breathing. which allows you to defocus from a time line and synchronize with the healthy rhythm of a natural time cycle.
The Acceleration of Time
In earlier days, people observed and followed the laws of nature. For instance, the laws of nature in the Agricultural Era were easy to manage because the speed of harnessing or controlling animals and agricultural crops, were in sync with the innate speed of animals, wind, and water. Observing and honoring these natural cycles kept people in balance with the laws of Nature. Generally, people in this era were in tune with the external rhythms of nature, as well as, their own internal bodily rhythms and needs. For example, singing harvesting songs while working gave farmers a creative outlet for expressing their emotions together. In addition, the songs served to break the monotony of the repetitive tasks. By contrast, the Industrial Revolution shifted a person’s sense of time and self-expression. Essentially, the birth of assembly-line production brought rigid time constraints and a zero tolerance level for distractions. Distractions in assembly-line production were to be avoided because they affected efficiency and lowered productivity. Consequently, distractions decreased profits. For this reason, intense concentration was required to keep up with the demanding production timetable.
Unlike the singing harvesters, assembly-line workers were prohibited from expressive singing or any other form of “profit-threatening” distraction. Assembly-line workers were also encouraged to ignore their bodily needs and tolerate mindless repetition. Not surprisingly, this industrial time period brought pocket watches onto the scene and external clocks became the “new dictators” of life’s fast pace. That’s when watches became the objects in which people carefully used to “watch” time. Today, as time continues to accelerate in our fast-paced Information Age, the current technologies require us to keep up with the escalating speed of computers, fax machines, pagers, cellular phones, etc. In addition to keeping up with technology’s speed, people also have to keep up with the rate in which publishers release new versions of software. Now you can better understand how the accelerated rate of time today leaves people struggling to move forward on the constantly shifting sands of change.
Dr Naras Bhat
Naras Bhat, M.D., F.A.C.P., is a physician, board-certified in Internal Medicine Immunology, and also certified in Metabolic Cardiology and Stress Management. He currently teaches at the University of California, Berkeley and was a professor of behavioral medicine at Rosebridge College of Integrative Psychology. Dr. Bhat is the author of the internationally known book, How to Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer. He also wrote a course book for his U.C. Berkeley class, Unlearning Test Anxiety and Stress and produced two popular videos, Uprooting Anger and Meditation Prescription.