avatarMichael McGill

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How to Master Your Time Like a Stoic

Why just manage your time when you can master it?

Us humans have a complicated relationship with time.

We tend to live on the extremes in our perception of time. We either think we have too much of it, or we think we have too little of it. So, we bounce between the far ends of the time availability spectrum.

We go into a state of procrastination. We put it off. “I’ll do it tomorrow. Heck, I have all the time in the world.”

Then we pivot to a state of frenzied action. We multi-task. We get stressed. “Oh my God how will I get all this stuff done. I don’t have enough time.”

But, like with all things, the truth lies between the extremes.

The truth is you do have plenty of time to do all the things that are meaningful to you.

If you spend your time wisely.

The Stoic Philosopher Seneca provides powerful and practical wisdom on how we should perceive and spend our time. He wrote a great deal about time in his letters and essays.

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.”

We have sufficient time to achieve what we want to achieve and accomplish what we wish to accomplish…if we invest it well. Think of your time as money. What do you want to spend it on?

“For a delight in bustling about is not industry — it is only restless energy of a hunted mind. And the state of mind that looks on all activity as tiresome is not true repose, but a spineless inertia.”

Don’t trick yourself into believing that when you’re “busy” that you’re “productive”. Busyness is often just a form of procrastination. It’s taking the path of least resistance. It’s easy to keep yourself busy with menial tasks. It’s hard to go deep and complete a meaningful project. When in doubt, go deep.

“The whole future lies in uncertainty; live immediately.”

Seneca reminds us that we don’t necessarily have “all the time in the world”. Tomorrow is not promised. Long before Nike coined the phrase, Seneca gave us the same advice. If it needs to be done, “Just Do It.”

Stop living on the extremes in your perception of time. Stop procrastinating on things that need to be done. Stop exhausting yourself with menial tasks.

Strike a balance!

You have sufficient time to accomplish everything you need to and to achieve your greatest goals.

You just have to treat time like the precious commodity that it is.

Value it more than money. Protect it. Don’t waste it.

Spend it wisely.

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Stoicism
Philosophy
Time Management
Productivity
Personal Development
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