The home of Uncommon Sense: Providing Clarity, Promoting Intelligence

The Sand in the Hourglass

Most of us squander the most precious resource we have – our time.

A lot of this is due to poor planning. Sometimes it is due to a lack of clarity around our sense of purpose. And both of those remain our own responsibility.

Let’s start with the second one.

Our life, our very existence, is like a blank canvass that a painter would do his work on. That painter conceives in his mind’s eye the masterpiece he intends to create. He envisions it, perceiving every detail, every nuance, every stroke of the brush. He internalizes depth, color, perspective, texture. He ponders shape and line and form and value. And then he goes to work, bringing to life his masterpiece.

The same is true with our own lives. If we truly understand our purpose, if we have clarity around the meaning and the value we bring to this state of our existence, we remain clear-headed. Life is seen as a drama, and all of the people we engage with are actors on the stage of life, each playing his or her role. There are villains and there are heroes. There are victims and there are village idiots. There are mentors and there are friends. There are opportunists and there are jokers. And we play our role, whatever it may consist of.

When we are clear about our purpose, when we grasp what our masterpiece is supposed to turn out to be, we can orient ourselves to that end, and begin to make decisions that move us confidently in that direction. That alone can give us energy and staying power. That alone can bring fulfillment.

Now to the first item, that of poor planning. Actually, it’s often not just a matter of poor planning, but of no planning whatsoever.

But those who regularly stop what they are doing and engage in deep thought and rumination begin to examine where they’ve been, where they are now, and where they wish to go. And they follow a process.

The process moves from the macro to the micro.

For the macro, effective managers of time regularly consider their life’s purpose, their mission, their values, and their roles. From there, they have a key goal in mind – something audacious that they wish to achieve, a goal or initiative that may take them 9 months, 12 months, or even longer to achieve.

Then they start to narrow their focus closer to something bordering on the micro; they start to examine what they will commit to for that month. They even set discrete, focused goals for each week. Getting even more micro, they keep a close eye on their daily calendar, identifying pockets of discretionary time if they exist, and filling those pockets appropriately. Sometimes they use those windows of time for rest and repose, so they can be fresh and rejuvenated. But more often than not they strategically fill those pockets of time, be it 20 minutes or 2 hours, with substantive blocks of focused productivity on projects and tasks that matter. Thus, they accomplish important triumphs. The cumulative effect of such an approach to one’s life is deep satisfaction and a long succession of wins, bringing about a life of fulfillment.

The sand in the hourglass is dropping constantly, imperceptibly. It passes through the narrow neck that separates the upper chamber (the future) from the lower chamber (the past). Every moment sees another grain of sand leaving one bulb and dropping into the other bulb, becoming a thing of a former reality, a moment we can no longer hold. It is thus imperative that we become good stewards of our time while we have the chance.

For the sand is dropping, and will soon be gone. . .

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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