Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Fall 2014
The history of mankind is marked by continuing outbreaks of war, but one unstoppable battle, even though apparently not bloody, has always accompanied man in his struggle for existence: the war against time. Man, with his actions, fills the small container of his life, and every action needs time to unfold; we know that time is short but we do not know the exact amount available to each of us. This causes feelings of fatalism, insecurity, anxiety and helplessness that hinder the achievement of the objectives we set, both at home and at work. Time, despite being a simulation brought on by human relativity, as Einstein taught us, is such a powerful fiction as to threaten to strongly influence our lives until it gets hold of ourselves, of our freedom. That is why the rapport between time and action has gained a strategic value for all of us and values modern technology greatly, because information and communication technology is an instrument that makes us capable of doing more in less time, as both the entrepreneur and the person on the street are aware. Who will win this competitive challenge? The bionic man who will extend his life span and reduce the time allocated to sleep? Or, conversely, the cultural life that will convince us of the primacy of human nature in everything, even in the passage of time and its inevitable end? And what if it were not a real war, the one against the clock, but mere evidence of the need for better management? For example, learning to delegate, being clear about what we intend to do, knowing how to assign the appropriate priority to our actions, taking care of one thing at a time instead of glorifying multitasking, or finally taking advantage of the downtime that abounds in our day. Not forgetting that we ourselves, as individuals, are entitled to take time.
Yogis believe that it’s not that past or the future that matter, but living the present with as much awareness as possible, being able to fully embrace life and to live the here-and-now moment. Our daily lives are full of commitments, tasks and responsibilities that distract us from the very moment we are experiencing, leading us to regret the past or to feel anxious about the upcoming future. Since the ancient times up to the contemporary era, mankind has always experienced an endless challenge against the unstoppable process of time passing. From the old man fighting against the fading of the light at dusk with fire, to the new man trapped in a “technology-vs.-time” machine, which gives endless opportunities but also takes more – more energy, more concentration, more performance. Breaking the night barrier, electricity has led in the past two centuries to unprecedented development and progress, making our days virtually unlimited. We have reached the opportunity to live and work nonstop, 24 hours a day, at a more and more hectic pace. But once we’ve achieved this goal, shouldn’t the real objective be quality, and not quantity, time? In such a complex and fast-paced world, only those able to be flexible and adapt themselves instantly are destined to survive. How does this relate to the ever-changing and highly demanding modern work environment? Sixteen professionals and two psychologists debate the value of effective time management. In fact, time is a value, not a rival to defeat.
As with every other aspect in our life, time can be “good” or “bad,” our best friend or our worst enemy. It can be the most precious resource or the most terrible nightmare, depending on how we look at it. If people were able to stop trying to escape (from childhood, being anxious to grow up) or, conversely, fighting against time passing (against a valuable maturity, against wrinkles on our faces), but lived the present at its fullest, that would mean awareness and acceptance of nature’s primacy. Man is impatient and inconstant, but he is also creative, curious and willing to learn and adapt himself to the very many exciting challenges he faces in life. That signifies, maybe not always but surely often, that he can find his way to a balance between restlessness and discipline, through developing an overall vision, planning and prioritizing, setting goals, acting step by step in his personal and professional life. Of course, using every possible smart device modern technology provides us. Life is full of wonderful and inspiring opportunities. Make the most of it, here and now.