Are you suffering from ‘time famine’

Some people seem overwhelmed all the time. They have long “to do” lists and try to pack too much in every day. Other people never seem rushed and easily get the day’s work done. My husband is in the latter category. He is a very busy man, but he just does one thing at a time and never seems rushed. I, on the other hand, have long “to do” lists and usually have a large stack of papers on my desk needing attention. As long as I can remember, I’ve had those stacks! In high school, it was stacks of books I carried home every night on the bus until my mother demanded that I bring only one book each night. As a young English teacher, I looked forward to vacations at my home 300 miles away. But I always took home stacks of compositions to grade. During my 25 years in public relations, the same thing happened. And today as I write, those stacks on the left side of my desk still haunt me. E-mails to answer, papers to file, bills to pay, magazines to read. The list goes on. That’s probably why I’m drawn to time management books. One of my current favourites is a book that I’ve had for a decade: “10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management” by Hyrum W. Smith. The first sentence in the book is “‘Someday, when I get time, I’m going to . . .’ How many times have you said those words or something similar?” Then Smith goes on to say, “The desire to get organized, to get the events in our lives under our control, to find time to do things we really want to, is felt by most of us at one time or another.” So you and I aren’t the only ones suffering from “time famine”—a phrase Smith coined. Sometimes, when we suffer from time famine, we say plaintively “I don’t have time.” Time to . . . have coffee with a friend . . . write a get-well card to someone who is under the weather . . . volunteer in an economy shop . . . order flowers for a relative. When you hear yourself saying those four little words “I don’t have time,” remember, you have as much time as anyone. You have 24 hours (86,400 seconds) every day and you have to spend it—or waste it. All of it. You can’t save it for tomorrow! “Time” is very sobering, especially this side of 60—or this side of 80. First, we ponder where did those 500,000 or 700,000 hours of life go. And then we question how many wonderful hours we have left. That’s why it is so important not only to get things done, but to get the “right” things done—the important things. Smith maintains the first step in time management is to think about your value system. What matters most to you? So what are your priorities? What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime? Do you want to write your life story, or finish a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle? Do you want to cultivate a rose garden, or cultivate new friends? Do you want to go to Tibet, or sit in your La-Z-Boy chair and read about Tibet? Think about it and decide. After all, it’s your life! Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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