Examining your beliefs

Alleviating your sense of time urgency and managing your time effectively

Question your Type A time urgent belief. Answer true or false to this statement Being time urgent has helped me gain success.

If you answer true, then think carefully. How successful are you? It may be that any failures are a result of mistakes that could have been avoided if you had been patient and taken time to think and organize, to be creative and innovative. For this reason, some drills are designed to rid you of your haste; for example, eat, talk, walk, drive more slowly and avoid polyphasing.

Ask yourself if frantically switching traffic lanes gets you to work quicker. Carry on driving in your usual manner for the next week and time your journey each day. Then the following week keep in one lane (where it is possible) and time your journeys. Now take the average journey time for each week. Most drivers find a difference in their journey time of only a few minutes. Now think: is it worth exposing your heart to potentially fatal levels of noradrenaline to save a few minutes each day?

Other drills are aimed to repair damage done by years of time urgency. Type As have little time to recall memories, so some time should be allocated to this activity. Review your life and plan ahead, setting realistic goals.

Years of struggling to do more and more in less time encourages the Type A individual to concentrate on achievements and strategies to gain or maintain control. There is little space in their lives for relaxation or cultural activities. To correct this, stop measuring your life in quantities; number of committees served on and amount of money earned, number of accomplishments, etc. Think instead in terms of quality of life. To help bring this about, your diary should include drills such as reading more (but not technical and financial texts or material associated with your job), visiting museums, art galleries, theatres and observing nature.

When we asked the wife of one of our Type A group participants if she had noticed any change in her husband’s behaviour, she said, Whilst we were driving in Wales, Peter commented on the beauty of the scenery. He never did this before the course. It may sound a small thing but when you spend all your time rushing about from A to B a change like this is noticeable. Remember how, in the Introduction, Frank said he now sees more of life and in particular more of the countryside? These are just two examples of taking time for living. Try taking off your watch; you will find that you have all the time in the world. Take time to look around to see what pleasurable things can be found. You will then rid yourself of your obsession with numbers and quantities and instead describe in words the beauty of things surrounding you.

Ask yourself: are you preoccupied with your own attempts to achieve your goals? Workaholics are blind to the fact that they are not giving time to their families. Even major events in the lives of their children go unnoticed. A recent survey of workaholics revealed some disturbing and sad indicators of this exclusive preoccupation with self and ambitions. A small child drew a picture of his family; Mummy, sister and himself – but Daddy was missing. Another child waiting for his father at the airport was reported to have asked several men, Are you my Daddy? How often we have heard our reformed Type As sadly express regret at missing so much of their children’s development. The missed school sports, parent’s evenings, nativity plays and so on. Once gone they cannot be replaced.

Review your activities to make time for the things that are important. Winston Churchill said, When a man cannot distinguish a great from a small event, he is of no use.

Learn how to manage your time effectively. Our lives are dominated by time and for Type As, time is more of a problem than others. We all know there are 24 hours in each day and we like to use our waking hours effectively. Nobody likes wasting time unnecessarily: it is in reality losing part of one’s life. But if you become obsessed with time the resultant distress could be shortening your life and certainly reducing its quality.

Managing your time effectively at work is important if you wish to avoid distress. The section on reducing demands (page 116) suggested a number of ways in which you can do this by planning, prioritizing, setting realistic goals, being assertive, avoiding perfectionism, saying no and delegating. You will also be more time-effective if you tackle jobs which require mental effort when you feel at your best and able to concentrate; in other words when you are in the eustress zone. Do the tasks requiring less mental effort when you are not able to

concentrate as well or when you anticipate interruptions. Do not waste time worrying unnecessarily about future events. Remember, it’s not the hours you put in – it’s what you put into the hours that counts.

Balancing your time between family, leisure, work and sleep is important. Regularly spending long periods at work will inevitably mean less time for your family and for leisure activities. Too much work often leads to mental fatigue and difficulty in relaxing, which will inevitably affect the quality of the time spent with your family and friends. Finding time to spend with your partner, children, family and friends will enable you to nurture love and support and to enhance your self-esteem and happiness.

Include in your daily schedule periods for relaxation, exercise and time for you to spend on your own. Pamper yourself each day. Build idling time’ into your routine so as not to rush the things you do. Allow plenty of time for washing, dressing and eating breakfast even if it means rising half-an-hour earlier in the morning. Spend time on meditation and muscular relaxation. Allow more time than you estimate for journeys and give yourself time to be punctual for appointments. In this way, you will reduce anxiety if you are unexpectedly delayed.

Remember, there are 168 hours in each week so there is time to devote to everything; sit down and plan how you want to spend your time. Time is precious and we all want to spend it happily. So remember, for every 60 seconds you are angry you lose a minute of happiness.

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