Organise Your Time to Work for You
Here is the manuscript for episode 9 of the podcast Success and Inner Growth. The topic is: How to Organise Your Time. Episode 3 of Success and Inner Growth was also concerned with the concept of time. The focus was there more on the essence of time. Today we emphasise the question how we can let our time work for us and avoid being drawn in a race against the time.
Now, let me emphasise that this post is founded on my personal experience and describes my way to handle time and to harness the power of my subconscious mind.
I am not a psychologist. If you are looking for help because you feel mentally troubled, the best option is to look for a professional, who can support you.
Handling your time properly has in the traditional view three dimensions:
- Organising your time
- Managing your commitments
- Planning your tasks in advance.
I am sure that you heard your fair share of admonishments about those ones. But today I want to shed some light on time management from a very different angle.
Your time not only belongs to yourself. It is also the most precious asset you will ever have. And it is very important for you to handle your time with care, to understand it in its different modes, and to organise it, because your time is indeed a very delicate asset.
It is Your Time
The importance and delicacy of your time leads directly to time management rule number one:
Take Control of Your Time
Taking control means that you must organise your time thoughtfully. You can have a secretary who takes appointments for you and acts as a shield if you don’t want to be interrupted.
But you must set up the framework. You decide, when you are available to all the people who want something from you, and when you are unavailable.
I suggest that you build categories for the different ways you spend your time. Then you can allocate space in your daily and weekly schedule to each category. I use for me four such time categories to organise my life:
- I reserve time for me, and only for me
- Then I plan time with my family
- I allocate space in my timetable for business minded transactional interactions.
- Finally, I try to protect a time space for working creatively without disturbance and interruption
I call these categories “time modes.”
A gatekeeper, who will organise your appointments and protects your Time for Your Self, your Family Time and the Time for Focused Work can be obviously a great help. But most of us cannot afford such a gatekeeper, and not everybody needs one.
Create your own schedule
With or without a gatekeeper, you need to be are aware of these four categories and include them in your weekly schedule. Mark them in your calendar in different colours. Each one has its own merit. If you balance them finely, they will work in concert. If you organise the time modes properly, you will experience the feeling that time is working for you. But if you lose that balance, your life will start to feel like a race against the time.
First, I will explore the time categories separately. I will ask myself: What does it do for us? Why is it important? How does it work?
Organise to Have Enough Time for Your Self
This time block belongs to us personally. It is there to connect our mind, our subconscious mind and our soul. This works only in a protected environment, where we can allow our thoughts and feelings to float freely. During this time, we do not focus. Instead we allow things to happen.
Surprisingly, a big junk of the time allocated to our self is sleep. Probably, we should say in negotiations more often: “I need to sleep over it.” But the better way would be, that we have already slept over it before we enter the negotiation arena. By any means, it is important to sleep enough. If we reduce sleeping time under a certain minimum, we will lose. The quality our decisions will suffer, and our health will deteriorate.
While sleeping is not an activity, and mandatory for the functioning of the body, there is also space for activities inside the Time for Your Self.
This can be sports like running, or playing music, sometimes reading. The trick is here, that they provide the cover for your mind, under which your thoughts, imagination and feelings can roam around, seemingly without an aim, and independently of existing concepts.
Setting the agenda for your subconscious mind
The defining feature of the Time for Your Self is this: your mind has freedom to roam around. You free it up from all goals and pressures. Immovable truths and sacred cows will lose their power.
This temporarily unchained mind can help you to identify tensions and problems, connect them in different ways and issue orders to your subconscious mind to sort them out.
The process of creating a mind map can help you to unchain your mind and allow it to roam around and explore the possibilities. You enter the topics into the mind map. Then you connect the topics in different ways, you move them around and structure them. Through such a quite formalised process you can also task your subconscious mind with the search for frames and solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
The term family needs these days kind of a definition, and so does Family Time. Traditionally the family includes a husband and a wife and their children. Possibly some grandparents were also included.
What is a family?
I want to use here another definition, which looks more at the functions, a family performs for us. In this sense, a family is a small group of people, who trust each other, care for each other and take responsibility for one another. Family members organise their everyday life together. They live together, eat together, sleep together. If someone is sick or otherwise disturbed, family members try to provide a cushion and take care of the sick family member’s needs.
Family members are so close to each other, that they know each other’s habits, strengths and weaknesses. That mutual trust means also, that there is no need to hide weakness in a well-functioning family.
Members of a functioning family can sense and observe early on when one of them runs into mental or emotional distress. Often, they recognise even earlier than the distressed person, that something is wrong. They can raise a red flag, look for underlying causes and try to find arrangements that mitigate or even solve the situation, hopefully even before it grows into a big problem. Such a family is a huge asset.
What is now Family Time?
Family Time is the time you invest into your family. It is the time spent with your family members. It is the time you use to take care of your family’s members. The time you do housework is also as Family Time. The time you help your children with their homework is included, as well as the time you spend with your wife dining out. Family Time means that you are present in your family and share life with all its events and necessities.
If you are a family of one, there is still a need for Family Time. You need to maintain your household, and you need to provide at times a nice treat to yourself. Alone, you still need to celebrate respect for yourself, and you need even more thorough selfcare.
Transactional Interaction Time
Nobody can master his life alone; we all need to cooperate with others. This can be peers, bosses, employees, customers, suppliers, government officials, you name it.
We call others, when we need help, and we will help others if they ask us. So, there must be a time when we are available. Communications and transactions in a business environment are generally transactional, you might give something, but you will expect direct reciprocity. You ask for a price and you pay a price. You help, but you need compensation.
This sphere of Transactional Interaction Time dominates for many people their working hours. They perform clearly defined processes, and those processes are controlled by other people: The process itself is defined by the employer, and each instance is typically triggered by a customer or a client – be it an external or an internal client.
Limit your Transactional Interaction Time
There is nothing wrong with such transactional relationships. Nobody can pass through life alone, and a good network is a big asset. But if you want to organise your time, you need to protect your turf. Otherwise it can happen that those networking activities and the corresponding mindset grow like a cancer and disrupt everything else in your life.
You better set blocks of time, where you are unavailable for such transactional interactions and networking. Outside the Transactional Interaction Time, you might even go as far as switching off your phone.
But this solution is difficult to implement, if you lack sovereignty over your schedule. And for employees, the boss will often insist that his scheduling wishes overrule his subordinates’ needs.
Another strategy would be performing your creative work, your planning and focused problem solving, while everybody else sleeps. This could be late in the night, or preferably early in the morning.
The bottom line is this: Vou need a time space, where you can focus on your work and without interruption.
Time for Focused Work
This time for work with a focused mind corresponds closely to the roaming mind of the Time for my Self. During the time reserved for your Self, you can task your subconscious mind with crunching information related to an actual problem or a tension in your mind. Even a vague tension might be a signal for an upcoming problem or opportunity.
During the Time for Focused Work, you can access the answers prepared by your subconscious mind, the results of its information crunching effort. In such a situation you experience a flow. The answers will just flow out of your mind, and you will not even know from where they are coming.
Organise Your Time to Work in Concert
If you organise your time well, you can reach a sweet spot where the time modes work together and produce excellent results.
Input comes from interactions with people
With a little thought you will find out, that most input to your mind enters your life through interactions with other people. Using my framework for understanding our time, this input comes from your family members during Family Time, and through your wider network during Transactional Interaction Time.
My suggestion would be now, that you append to each encounter with another person a very short moment of silence. This would be a minimalistic moment of Time for Your Self.
This moment of silence after a meeting will help you to funnel the brand-new information you gathered just now to your subconscious mind. In the process your short-term memory will be freed up, and it will get ready for the next episode of your life, while the older information is stored safely in the sphere of your subconscious mind.
Your subconscious mind is ready to help
Then you need also larger blocks of Time for Your Self. This could be a daily exercise routine, recurring times reserved for prayer, time for a walk etc. The defining feature for this time is that there is neither focus, nor input from another person. You are alone with all your subtle wishes and feelings and indulge in a walk through the world of your subconscious mind with all its grotesque fragments, weird associations and frivolous assumptions.
During such a session you can imagine how your world would be after you have overcome this or that problem, when you stand on the podium as the winner of another contest. During Time for Your Self you will be able to experience a foretaste of the feeling you would have if your wishes come true. If you like that feeling, your wish turns into aspiration and your subconscious mind takes on the task to let your aspiration become reality.
Just don’t ask for immediate gratification and allow your subconscious mind enough time to do its work.
Picking up the gems from your subconscious mind
After asking your subconscious mind for help with a problem, you need to find a way to retrieve its input. I do this in the context of the Time for Focused Work. Here are two examples:
How to Organise Your Time for Writing an Article
Let me say I tasked my subconscious mind to help me create a blog post by setting up a mind map with my thoughts about the topic. For a couple of weeks, I did now unrelated work, while the blog post in question lingered around in the background of my mind. Then comes the time to return to the project.
Writing the article is now a matter for the Time for Focused Work. I sit down in in front of my Computer at a time, where I can focus, and I am not interrupted. This may be late in the night, or for me in the morning hours when I am alone at home. I return to the topic of the article, maybe I take another look at the mind map I made a few weeks ago.
Then I start to write. I just write what comes out of my mind. Maybe this is first a structure of the article, with headlines, or an introduction. Or there comes right away a key concept.
I write it down as it comes. I do not care about style or spelling. Even if the concepts and terminology I use are not very clear, I just write. It is like a brain dump.
Later I go through my notes and form them into a text. If I find unclear thoughts, I do some additional research. I make sure that I employ the words and terms conclusively. If needed, I add some definitions.
It will take me three or four sessions of Time for Focused Work, stretched over 2 or three days, and the article is ready.
Example: Making an important decision
If the task you have sent to your subconscious mind is about a decision you have to make, the procedure is the same. You send the question to your subconscious mind through a session of Time for Your Self and leave it some time for crunching the related information. Afterwards you set up a session of Time for Focused Work. Now you take a piece of paper and write down all the pros and cons.
You go through them, refine them and weight them in their importance. Now you have the basis for making an informed decision.
Organise Your Time for a Workflow
The workflow of my mind for solving severe problems is like this: I get a task or problem to solve, mostly related to input coming from my family or my transactional network. If it is a simple or recurring task, I draw on my knowledge to solve it immediately.
But if the problem is more complex, and my mental knowledge base does not help, I will use a session of Time for my Self to send it to my subconscious mind with a request for support.
After sending that request, I leave the problem for some time alone and do something else. When the time has come to return to the problem, I start a new session of Time for Focused Work for a brain dump. There I can access the response of my subconscious mind. I write everything on a piece of paper, or into my computer. Then I structure my notes and develop them into a solution.
This was episode 9 of the podcast Success and Inner Growth. We will make a short brake and come back with episode 10 around January 15. We will explore then ways to nurture and protect our subconscious mind, and to harness its power.
Thank you for your time and see you again in January.