Timeless To-Dos for a Timed-to-the-Max World
How to stop time in your everyday life.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Does your life feel like its timed to the max, hour by hour? Do you set your alarm clock not only to wake up but to not forget the multiple meetings and phone calls you need to make throughout your day? Can you not afford to lose your sense of time in what you're doing. If this describes you, then I am just like you.
In this world where everything seems to be timed, I am on the quest for timeless things that need no scheduling. Here is my starter list:
Increasing the likelihood of a great new friendship or an incredible collaboration is timeless. Connect people you know and increase the chances of great things happening. For an extraordinary example of two people connecting, read The Undoing Project, author Michael Lewis's book about Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Israeli psychologists who collectively invented the field of behavioral economics.
Thanking your heroes.
Have you told someone you know, or you know of, how much they've influenced your life? A family member or a teacher who believed in you? A great boss? A friend who inspired you? Or someone you don't know but who has deeply inspired you--an entrepreneur, an author, an artist, a thought leader. They're the unsung heroes of our lives. Write them a thank you note--a timeless, lasting gesture.
Teaching what you know.
A good friend of mine brought me flowers one day and then showed me a trick for how to arrange them in a vase. Now every time I arrange flowers I think of her. Teach what you know and you will touch someone, perhaps in ways you don't expect, and perhaps for life.
I learned this from an interview with Beth Comstock that I read years ago. The single most important question you can ask is, "how can I help you?" Years later Marshall Goldsmith taught me the same thing in his 100 Coaches program--how you can give help and receive help. Making opportunities to be supportive of others doesn't require an appointment or a deadline. You can just pick up the phone in the middle of the day to reach out to someone and the positive impact may be infinite.
Being in the flow.
When I sketch my ideas to solve challenging problems, I lose my sense of time. Ideas form and reveal themselves to me at the end of my pen. Time opens up and I am in the moment. This total immersion in an activity results in a total loss of time and space--what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi identified as being in the flow. What are your means to be in the flow?
"The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times... The best moments usually occur if a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile." Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Whether it's a beautiful piece of music or art in a museum, a hike in the mountains or a perfect summer day, experiencing beauty doesn't have a time limit. Jonathan Haidt, the cognitive psychologist, talks about how awe-inspiring beauty helps connect us with something bigger than ourselves. Increasing your chances of experiencing beauty leads to timelessness. Recently I took to working at the Museum of Modern Art in the proximity of greatness and then walking through an exhibit, often picked at random, on my way out. For you this might be something completely different--just increase your chances of experiencing beauty and with it, timelessness.
What are your timeless moments in an ever more busy and timed-to-the-max world? Savor them when you can.