People often complain about living in a time poor society.
It’s an interesting expression given that unlike money we all have exactly the same amount of time.
This feeling of being time poor wend its way into our language, “I’m so busy”, “I just can’t find the time” and ultimately produces a mindset.
From there it affects lifestyle and impacts volunteer intensive organisations like churches as people opt out of attending and serving.
So why do people feel time poor?
Christmas now starts in October, Easter eggs hit the stores in January, cricket is played all year round, winter sporting codes never go off the radar and you can now buy food out of season because it’s in season somewhere in the world. Our sense of seasonal shifts has blurred and it adds to the feeling of having little time to catch your breath.
High quality entertainment is now available 24/7. Big shows come and go with regularity and that special feeling of something big coming to town has been lost.
Margins are reduced as we scamper from one activity to the next.
Intrusive online world
Smart phones have made the internet ubiquitous and we now consider free Wi-Fi to be a human right.
We no longer weave in and out of people’s lives as we stay hyper connected via social media and email.
We want a higher standard of living so we will work longer hours and women stay in the workforce longer so that we can maintain our preferred living standards.
Comparison is at an all-time high as we have access to the best of the best across all industries and thus we feel the pressure to constantly improve and stay ahead of the game.
Lofty ambitions are now par for the course as we expect to have a fulfilling career while travelling widely and enjoying every mod con in our homes.
Life is more complex and less simple today. Knowledge abounds. Contrary opinions are accessed with ease. Persuasive arguments are pervasive.
We are overwhelmed with options. Just check out the breakfast cereal aisle in your local supermarket and you’ll get the drift.
Heightened industry standards and increasing government regulation have seen a rise in the professionalism of many workplaces and community organisations. While this means better service and products it adds pressure and complexity to life.
The heat is on to be better, faster, stronger, wise more attractive and ahead of the pack.
These trends combine to make us feel overwhelmed and contribute to the general thought of being a time poor society.
We've seen direct results. Volunteering has gone through the roof in both campuses.
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How can leaders impact our time poor society?
1. Live on purpose
Work out your unique ambitions and capacity and live in the light of them. Say yes to the important things that boost a purposeful life and no to meaningless trivia.
2. Retreat to reflect
I’ve written recently on why reflection questions for leaders are a good idea and how they arrest the drift to mindless living. Grab an hour this week.
3. Avoid medicating
Overwhelmed people medicate on mind numbing activities that fritter away hours. While there is nothing wrong with relaxing distractions it can lead to time being spent on mindless pursuits that rob you of precious time. Catch yourself medicating and make the adjustments.
4. Positive addictions
Positive addictions are healthy activities that distract you from your main game and leave you thinking, “Where did that time go?”. What’s your positive addiction?
5. Schedule margin
I call it burning a day. The bible calls it a Sabbath. Learn to take a break. Every week. Slow it all down.
6. Challenge the mindset
People aren’t time poor. In fact, it’s impossible to be time poor. People feel time poor then think they are time poor and that mindset should be challenged by leaders.