A Time For Everything

I often find that my clients complain of not “having time.” I think that the sheer speed of modern life and their extreme future-mindedness sneaks up on them and robs them of the present. I believe this because I used to suffer from the feeling myself. I was doing more and doing it faster, only to then categorize any hours that were unscheduled as a waste. One book, Timeshifting, by Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D. helped me to recognize this pattern and re-define my relationship with time. I came to learn that doing more, doesn’t always translate into living more fully. I recently asked Stephan to elaborate on his premise of shifting the way we think about time as we realize that every moment is filled with rhythms and possibilities that we could not otherwise imagine.

AM: How do you personally tend to organize your day? What planning tips/devices can you share?

SR: I tend to not use devices at all. I think that the success of something is when it becomes naturally a part of one’s rhythm. For instance, if someone were to go on a diet, there is a certain point where it has to stop being a diet and it is just what you eat. In my book, I make a suggestion that people create spontaneous time and one way to do that is to start to write your own name into your schedule. And that can work for a weekend or a day but ultimately it is not with the idea that you are going to continue to put your name into your schedule for the rest of your life as a way to get spontaneous time because then it certainly never really becomes “spontaneous”. But, once you start to feel like this is a priority in your life and you start to do something that allows it to show up, then what I find for myself is that it starts to be pretty natural. I will find that there will be time that just opens up. For the most part, as you can see from my book, I’ve really transitioned from a time when I was a physician and every fifteen minutes was scheduled in my life to a point where I was running Omega, which was a full-time job but, it didn’t require whether I came in at 9am or left at 5pm. I don’t like being on a schedule that way but since I was always pointing my own self toward having more freedom and time, I do a lot of work but I don’t have any schedule. I have a busy day today, for instance, but there is nothing in my schedule that means that I couldn’t take an hour or two off right now and go work in the garden. For me, it is very important to have a schedule that flows according to what I am feeling and what I want to do.

AM: What is the greatest misuse of time? SR: Now that I have an iphone, I notice the number of times that I check my emails in the course of a day. It is an insidious habit and we don’t even notice it. When we do have some “down-time”, we have these little companions with us, (the cell phones or emails), which demand that we are available. I think that it is an unfortunate thing and I’ve found myself caught up in that habit. It is something to bring into awareness in terms of just how often we are doing it. I think that we have that kind of compulsiveness that it becomes addictive to us. The term “misuse” is tricky because misuse somehow implies that what is right is the good use of time. And use of time often is associated in our society with production. So we start to value things from the productivity side of it and as a result we often feel guilty when we are in the non-productivity side and consider that the misuse. I think ultimately the only negative around time is when we are not present. It is really about being alive.

AM: Why do you think some people achieve more success than others in terms of time management?

SR: Obviously we all have the same 24 hours in a day so I think that it is a matter of attitude. Some live life in a relaxed way and some, no matter what, are always uptight and frenetic. It is all trainable and workable. It is a question of it coming into someone’s awareness about what are going on and their willingness to change it. Whenever I would teach programs about time, it was always about the degree to which the people took time as something outside of themselves and of which they had no control. And if you are in a situation where it is something that you can’t do anything about, well you’re lost and you will always remain that way. What I am interested in is becoming aware of the flow of time and then recognize that we can chose to really shift that, if that’s of interest to us. Once that starts to happen, we shift from this negative to more positive feedback cycle with it.

Presently, I find myself much more competent or with greater capacity to get much more done, with less effort. I focus on the things that are necessary now. The things that I know are going to be necessary to take care of in two months; I don’t spend any time on it. I just trust that in two months, I’ll do it. I watch a lot of people who get caught up in a way where they are spending their time focused on things that they really don’t need to be focused on. They are anxious about something that not only hasn’t yet occurred but that may, in fact, never occur. But they are fretting about, “What If….”

AM: What helps you to balance your personal and professional life? SR: I don’t have a direct separation but I do recognize that there is a need to hold, almost sacred, some of the time space in our lives. And I think it is too easy to let work overtake everything in our life. So it’s sitting down for dinner, and the telephone rings and you’re having a conversation about work instead of eating dinner or whatever. I think that there are important ways to set up boundaries about it. But, other than that, for instance, when I hear people talk about retirement, I can’t even imagine what they’re talking about because I like what I do. Its not that I have to do it to make money. I like what I do, and so why should I not be doing what I like? For me, I like to work at something that I really enjoy doing.

Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen is a nationally recognized holistic physician who lectures on health, wellness, nutrition, longevity and time. Dr. Rechtschaffen received his medical degree in 1973 from New York Medical College in New York City. He co-founded Omega Institute in 1977 and is a Special Advisor. Stephan is presently focused on programs dedicated to spiritual transformation, personal development, and environmental sustainability which he will be hosting at Blue Spirit Retreat, in Nosara, Costa Rica.