Self-management in the Economy of Speed

We are living in the economy of speed. Our rapidly changing technology, demographics and business life are merely one aspect of this. Network communications are increasingly important. There is more chaos, things are getting complicated, they take us by surprise, and there is no single correct answer.

The supply of time cannot be regulated, and we all get an equal allowance: just 24 hours a day. The best form of time management is self-management, which in practice means planning and then carrying out your plan. And then in teamwork it becomes essential to agree on what must be done and to do what you promise. That’s all there is to it.

Economy of Speed Doesn’t Mean Acting in Haste

Even though we cannot control the march of time, we can manage our choices in time. It’s worthwhile focusing on the things that are meaningful, and that we feel are the most important. Few will regret with their dying breath that they spent too little time at work and too much with their children. In the economy of speed it is essential to be able to slow down and stop.

The value in stopping comes in the ability to see things more clearly. Acting in haste is a bit like running with your bicycle and hearing someone ask why you don’t stop, jump onto the saddle and ride it instead. And then gasping that you don’t have time, because you are in such a hurry to get where you are going. So the next time someone asks you whether you are in a rush, you should tell them that you aren’t, because more haste really does mean less speed.

In fact the faster the world around us changes, the more sense it makes to stop for reflection. To quite literally stand still and take a deep breath. Or to go for a stroll in the woods, because spending a while in the Great Outdoors is a proven way of reducing stress. And it’s always wise to do important things when you are not yet in a hurry, so that haste and stress do not sap your energy when the stakes are highest.

From Self-management to Success

So how should we get along in an agile, disruptive and increasingly quick-fire society? We often respond to the challenges that life throws at us by bolting our food, skipping lunch, failing to exercise, cutting back on sleep and playing less with our children. We forget that it is ultimately essential to maintain healthy eating habits, take regular exercise, get enough sleep and spend time with our loved ones. It’s also advisable to look on the bright side, spend less time worrying, be thankful, work harder and laugh more often.

There is a certain wisdom in applying the simplest of all instruments for managing our affairs. Merely by immediately jotting down the ideas that come to mind, shifting things from notes and electronic channels onto a to-do list and making a plan for the next day or week, we can significantly boost our own sense of control in a changing world.

"…we all get an equal allowance: just 24 hours a day."

Success is ultimately not about getting what you want, but about wanting what you get. Success is a matter of gratitude. It’s the ability to appreciate what the world is currently offering and to continue our journey through it.