We all wish we had a little more time. There is always so much we need to do, so many things we’d like to learn, so many experiences we’d like to have—and never enough time to do them all. The trouble is, everything we do costs time, so we can’t say yes to everything we’d like to do—or even everything we need to do most of the time. Time, or the lack thereof, seems to be our greatest limiting factor in life.
But what if time didn’t really exist? What if time was just something we invented ourselves? What if we all had the exact same amount of time each day? Actually, all of those things are true. Albert Einstein said, “Time is an illusion.” He’s right. So how do we manage our time if time is an illusion? What are we really managing, then? Is it not our actions—the things we choose to do while our eyes are open? Benjamin Franklin is famous for stating, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
So often we think of the stuff time is made of—seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years—and we forget that all of those things are man-made inventions used to track our existence. We spend a few minutes each day planning our events and managing our time, but time is life. What if we gave up on the whole notion of time management and focused, instead, on life management. After all, we can’t manage time—we can’t save it for later, it doesn’t keep. All we can do with time is spend it. And we do. Each second we receive is instantly spent.
So here are a few quotes that might make you think differently about time:
- “All great achievements require time.” —Maya Angelou
- “Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.” – Albert Einstein;
- “Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves.” —Jawaharlal Nehru
- “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.” —William Shakespeare
- “Valuing other people’s time starts with valuing your own.” —Robert Braathe
- “Time is merely the order of events, not an entity itself.” – Gottfried Leibniz.
- “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” —Carl Sandburg
- “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” —Bertrand Russell
- “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” —Steve Jobs
- “One day, you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” —Paulo Coelho
So, if we change how we see time—acknowledge that we can’t manage it or save it—we may realize that we aren’t slaves to the clock, but rather time is a tool to achieve what matters most to us in life. Then we can stop chasing schedules, and start managing our life. That’s when planning becomes something more like event control. “What happens next,” and “Now what,” become more prominent questions in our life. And the answers to those questions will be filled with more enthusiasm. Yes, time will continue to fly by, but we’ll be too busy living the life we’ve chosen to notice it.