My Dad has always been one of the biggest encouragements in my life – especially when it comes to reminding me that I need to take time to slow down. It was my Dad who introduced me to Carl Honoré, the magnificent mind behind the slow movement, and it is my Dad who frequently reminds me that I need to take more time out for myself.
Ever get annoyed when someone says, “Don’t rush,” or “Take your time,” right when you need to be somewhere, or you’re in a serious time crunch? Well, the next time you’re feeling rushed, or overwhelmed with all the work before you, just remember Benjamin Franklin. It was Franklin who once famously said, “Take time for all things: Great haste makes great waste.” This is coming from a guy who had a whoooole lot on the go. I mean seriously, not only was Ben Franklin one of America’s founding fathers, he was also a renowned politician, a postmaster, a scientist (American Enlightenment, anyone?), a diplomat, and an inventor (you may recall the lightning rod, those bifocals you’re wearing, and even the Franklin stove). Still, Benjamin Franklin knew the value of taking the time to think things through, and to do things right.
So how can we learn to halt the hurriedness in our everyday lives, especially living in this age of technology and increased connectivity? Here are five practical points for using your time wisely, whatever goals you’re pursuing.
- Be proactive; don’t procrastinate. If you’re someone who works better on a deadline, or thrives in a fast-paced, high-stress environment, “unlearning” procrastination can be difficult; however, the rewards to being proactive are many. Proactive people are purposed in their work, principled, and they practice healthy habits.
- Be purposed. Sometimes you have to ask yourself the tough questions, like “is what I’m doing today helping me get to where I want to be tomorrow?” If the answer is “no”, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing and what steps will help you reach your goal(s). We all need to have a ‘why’. What’s yours?
- Be productive. Stop wasting time being “busy” and start being productive. No matter what you’re doing, time is going to pass, so why not make your work matter? Start focusing on the right things that will take you in the right direction, and limit everything else. Take charge of your time, and don’t get caught up in outside distractions.
- Be realistic. There will always be more things to do than hours in a day, and that’s why it is crucial to focus on your priorities. You may ask, “How can I focus when everything is a priority?” Well, what’s your primary goal? Break it down and work specifically toward that. Keep in mind that not all hours in the day are equal. What time of day do you operate at your best? Use those hours to pursue your goals, and the rest of the time for lesser tasks.
- Get started. Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” One way to eliminate haste is to get started. Sometimes, you’ve just got to stop making excuses, and go for it!
It’s the little life hacks that help – get in the habit of setting up your breakfast before you go to bed each night, plan and prepare your meals for the work week in advance, set a weekly laundry day so you’re not scrambling to get dressed each morning, and reserve one night a week to take time to just be – plan for your best tomorrow by preparing today.
Originally published as “Haste Makes Waste”. Minto Express. February 25, 2015: 5. Print.