zenhabits : breathe

How to Live Without the Clock

“Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” - William Faulkner

Article by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead.

Have you ever wished that time would just go away?

I don’t mean time or “existence” in the literal sense. I mean time in the way we count things.

Because we’re always counting, aren’t we?

When you really take a close look at all the hangups we have about time, it’s amazing how much we obsess over it. We think we can control time, how long things take, and what kind of results we get. Time management, after all, is how we achieve success, isn’t it?

Or so we think. Because there are so many other factors to success that have nothing to do with time, and nothing to do with counting it. There are priorities, there is leverage, relationships, resources, focus, commitment, and all of these other things. Yet we call it “time management.”

What I’ve personally found in my life is that the more I try to manage (control) time, the more anxiety I have.

I’m always trying to…

See how ridiculous this gets?

Jim Loehr, author of The Power of Full Engagement, says that “managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance.”

I have to agree. Trying to constantly manage and monitor my time has only led me to greater anxiety, and always feeling like I’ve not “done enough.” I’m always thinking about how I could have “spent that time more wisely.” But the purpose of life is to enjoy it, is it not? So can’t we perform highly without the anxiety of counting every minute?

I think so; at least I’ve been doing my best to live this way. After all, it takes time to ditch decades of time-bound conditioning.

So here are a few things I recommend to kill the anxiety of the clock:

I heard a story from a friend about some business men that went to vacation in Bali. They had purchased one of the typical vacation packages from the local travel agency, which of course, had a schedule of events. As they were sitting at an outside patio at the bar, they asked when the entertainment would be starting that evening. The hostess just said “Oh it will start when it starts.”

You can imagine how much this troubled the men. Uncertainty… lack of control. Not knowing.

The locals in Bali are famous for being an incredibly carefree and happy people. They are also well known for not caring much about measuring time, or trying to be on time. They don’t care much about it. They are also extremely happy.

Meanwhile, the business men’s day has been ruined. They can’t count the minutes till the evening’s event begins.

So what would you rather be: in control… or happy?

This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind.

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