In time management terms, there have been only a few writers whose works have properly impacted that science. Alec R McKenzie and Alan Lakein are two, but for me the three ‘greats’ are Charles R Hobbs, Stephen R Covey and Hyrum W. Smith, Covey passed away in 2012, Hobbs earlier this year and, two days ago, Smith passed for too quickly after a cancer diagnosis in his mid-70s. But in Smith’s case, the work of most relevance to me at the moment is one he called ‘Pain is Inevitable: Misery is Optional.’
What’s that got to do with time management?
Time management, looked at in its essence, means focus. It means doing the best thing at the optimum time with maximum attention, whether you want to or not.
We can schedule a lot of ‘best things’ and do them at the most appropriate moment, but focus – that’s down to us.
As I have implied in previous posts, I recently made a mistake. The consequences did not have to be what they were but remaining in the situation wasn’t an option because of the way it came about. I’m not blameless in my ‘downfall’ by any stretch, but the whole thing could have been better dealt with by some of the others involved.(Okay, me too.)
Since that time, I have walked my dog nearly every day, and nearly every day the events repeatedly arose in my mind. This happened so much that I created a psychological connection between the walk and the event, which meant reliving the ‘what if’s and the ‘who did’s. Constantly, on every walk.
When I got the news of Hyrum’s death, I started reviewing some of his writing. There were a few Kindle samples viewed, but then I remembered ‘Pain’, and this morning I read the opening pages between a 60-minute spin cycle (I came out very clean) and the aforementioned dog-walk. And two things occurred to me.
As he wrote of his own mistake (worse than mine, heavier, longer-term consequences to his spiritual wellbeing) and the experiences of the 9/11 families, among other things, I realised my woes are teeny weeny in comparison. I also remembered that this kind of setback has happened to me before and I’ve bounced back – usually better.
I gave ‘The Event’ no thought on the walk. Sure, a particular tree or corner reminded me of it, but I gave it no further thought. It’s finished.
The mental space needed for creativity and focus on the important things mean that we must acknowledge that any negative event that hurt us in the past needs to be kept there so that our mental energy can be better used on the now, and on the future.
The pain of a negative experience is temporary. I think 7 weeks isn’t that long to ‘feel’ it. But the misery I felt became, after a time, a reactive choice. Today, thanks to Hyrum, I made a better, proactive one.
Namaste, everyone. And RIP, Hyrum.