Copyright (c) 2009 Stephen Lau
Time stress is a major stress factor in everyday life. We need to meet deadlines in almost every aspect of our lives: from completing certain tasks in our work, catching a bus, to cooking our dinner. In contemporary living, in spite of the advancement of modern technology, we find ourselves having too much to cram into the twenty-four hours of a day.
Time stress is a major stress factor, detrimental to both physical and mental health. How can one overcome time stress?
The solution is surprisingly quite simple: deliberate non-doing. Yes, you simply do nothing. It is just that simple!
Do not let the constrains of your life mold your time. To be able to do this, you need to change your perceptions of time.
Time is all in your mind – a result of your own thinking. Everybody has only twenty-four hours a day. Come to think of it, time is an equalizer of men. Do you really have more work that needs to be done than everyone else? Do you need to be a “thief of time” by sleeping much less than others so that you have more time than others to do what needs to be done?
Deliberate non-doing gives you a sense of inner calmness that enables you to re-consider the importance of doing only what is most important, to see in perspective what is most important in your life. Only when you start doing what is the most important to you, then you will begin to have enough time for everything. This may sound stranger than fiction, but this is the truth to overcome time stress.
This evening, when you get home, you may feel you are overwhelmed and pressed for time, such as there is a TV program that you want to watch, a dinner you need to cook for your family, some laundry you need to do, some phone calls you need to make, or your kids’ homework you need to attend to.
At that very moment, when you think you are going to go crazy, stop short of doing anything – that is, do nothing! Be mindful of only that present moment. Live in the present moment. Sit down and meditate for fifteen to twenty minutes: you just sidestep the flow of time. If you don’t know meditation techniques, just close your eyes, and pay attention to your breathing; if thoughts come to your mind, do not deliberately dismiss them, but just continue to concentrate on your breathing.
After the meditation, you may have a totally different perspective of you needs and wants in life. If you have missed the TV show, so what? If you haven’t made those phone calls, that is not the end of the world. If you haven’t helped your kids with their homework, it doesn’t mean they would never go to Harvard. What is most important to you is your inner calm, which is the absence of time stress. Maybe you have just avoided a heart attack due to time stress.
Remember, time stress occurs when you are spread too thin. So, prioritize and simplify your life. The first step to achieve this is deliberate non-doing amidst the hustle and bustle of life.