Do you find yourself running at an even more frenzied pace during the holiday season? I do. So, as I looked at my bottomless to-do list and deadlines fast approaching, I wondered how I could better manage my time. I had an epiphany. I realized that our obsession with managing time has actually resulted in time managing us. I realized that my perspective that I am time-starved is actually stopping me from being effective as a leader at work and at home.
Many of us are stuck in a perspective that how we manage our time determines how effectively we lead or how effectively we live our lives. Here’s what we’re missing.
The Greek philosophers identified time in two aspects: Chronos (chronological or calendar time) and Kairos (the ever present “now”). “Kairos” according to Wikipedia is defined as “a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved.” In our time-starved perspective we have forgotten about the abundant quality of “kairos”.
If all we manage to is chronological time (i.e. what’s next on the calendar) we actually give up the “kairos” qualities of time that make leading most effective – being fully present to the opportunities in the present moment. There are many things worthy of our time that in our “time-starved” perspective we feel we can never carve out time for. A different perspective to explore is to “carve-in” to our existing time the qualities of being that help us be more effective. Here are five qualities to manage instead of time.
Our focus on getting to the next meeting or the next task on our to-do list stops us from truly connecting with one another. Being present to what is going on right now with people (teammates, customers, or bosses) allows us to connect at a deeper level with their motivations. Our ability to connect and influence others is a key driver of our leadership.
Our rush to get our activities accomplished generates stress within us, which leads to more stress around us. Our stress is contagious. The best decisions are made when we manage our stress levels in the present moment. The greatest creativity happens when there is an environment that is supportive rather than stressful. It’s our job as leaders to create that environment.
In our frenzy to get lots done we believe multitasking is the way to go. Not so. Many studies have shown that multitasking adds to our stress levels. Studies also show that being fully focused on one task without a lot of mental commentary is what also contributes greatly to being happy.
Often as we listen to others, we have our own internal dialogue or we’re impatiently waiting to speak. The ability to fully listen to the words and underlying emotions of an individual are compromised when our minds are racing because the clock is racing. When we listen openly, people talk. The best decisions are made when all perspectives are heard.
Our perspective represents the place we make decisions from and act from. Our perspective is our truth, not necessarily the “Truth” and often comes from past experience. Are we present enough to look at the opportunities in the present moment to shift our perspective so better decisions can be made? Or do we go around with our minds firmly made up in the interest of efficiency and expediency?
So, my goal for myself this holiday season is to stop managing time and start managing all the other qualities that will make me a better leader at work and at home. How about you? Please comment and share your thoughts on the topic.
If this resonated for you, please comment, subscribe, and share with others.
A version of this post first appeared on my Forbes.com blog.