April 19, 2009
Just relax, take it easy
By Anthony Yeo
When I told people that this would be my last piece for the column as my year's contract is up, the common response was: 'I don't believe it's been a year. How time flies.'
Yes, sometimes it does seem like it was only last month that I started this column. It is also the same feeling that many people have regarding time - it just seems to slip away, rudely reminding us that we are losing control of it.
One of the struggles people experience is finding time to do the things they believe need to be done. Somehow, tasks seem endless and time is inadequate.
There is a tendency to be on the move, with our lives packed with work, activities and commitments. It is so easy to hear people tell me that they do not have time, especially time to relax and have fun.
This was the startled response I received from trainees at a workshop I conducted not too long ago. I began the session by asking them to introduce themselves and tell the group what they do for leisure.
Many were stunned by what I had asked for and some had difficulty thinking of an answer. A participant told me a week later that the brief encounter led her to think seriously of how little time she had to relax.
That experience led me to think of the way people live. Work, studies and commitments tend to occupy the majority of one's waking hours, leaving one with little time to engage in non-work activities.
I read a book titled In Pursuit Of Slowness, which challenged me to reflect on the way I live. It also encouraged me to re-prioritise my time to include non-work activities. I soon learnt that I could manage my time, instead of letting it take possession of me. In doing so, I was able to slow down, instead of galloping through life.
Somehow, this recession has contributed to the slowing-down process, with workers being retrenched and companies requiring workers to take no-pay leave to cut costs. Faced with non-work time, some do not know how to use the free time.
Perhaps this is the most appropriate time to take stock of how you live. While work should surely be part of your life, it should not be your life.
Time management is a major aspect of stress management, which involves assessment, prioritisation and action. Assessment begins by examining how you spend your time. You can begin by reflecting on how much time you have that is not related to work.
Then prioritise and ensure that there is non-work time for rest, recreation, relationship and reflection. These non-work preoccupations are not necessarily productive in economic terms but they nurture the soul.
For me, it is time to bid adieu to readers, especially those who have responded to me, and those who have shared their sentiments with me.
May you continue to compose your own life lines and find meaning in doing so.