Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr Seuss, is probably one of the most famous children’s authors. He wrote and illustrated more than 60 books and sold hundreds of millions.
Although his stories were intended for a young audience, he often embedded in them philosophical reflections, to inspire not only children but also their parents. He poetically wrote:
“How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flown.
How did it get so late so soon?”
The passage of time is often perplexing. Sometimes perceived as almost frozen — like when we are bored at a conference or racing when we are having fun. Yet, one thing seems to remain constant; we never have enough of it.
Who didn’t say these words at least once, “I don’t have the time to do this”?
And this sentence carries two distinct interpretations.
The first one is a refusal. We say no to something or someone, which is healthy if it helps us establish boundaries to preserve our time for other things we want to say yes to.
The second meaning underlines a decision, often unconscious. We tell others and ourselves that we wish to do something, but we lack time to do it. For example, we would like to have the time to read this exciting novel or go to the swimming pool to exercise.
But what we are truly saying is that we decide not to do it. We make the choice that this activity is not enough of a priority to do it instead of another. We choose to make dinner for the whole family instead of reading our book. We choose to sleep an extra hour to recover from an intensive workweek rather than going swimming.
We are always arbitrating our priorities, but nowadays, it seems we have so many that they cannot fit in a 24-hour day. A 2013 social study surveying nearly a thousand Americans confirmed this perception¹. Half of the participants said they rarely had free time and more than two-thirds of them expressed the feeling that they sometimes or always felt rushed.
So how can we better manage our time?
We need to address each of the three pillars of time management. And the issue stems from the fact that most of us only focus on a single one.
When they feel time-pressured, what is the thing most people default to?
They make To-Do lists. But at the end of the day, they realise they have many lines unchecked. They also block time in their calendars for specific activities. But often they exceed the time allocated or simply skip the activity because something more “urgent” comes up.
These activities fall under the Arrangement pillar. Nonetheless, we need more to be fully in control of our time.
We have to build our Awareness of time. To see it as a limited resource whose use must be controlled.
We have to foster our Adaptation too. To be able to answer uncertainty and change with flexibility.
Leveraging these three key elements is the answer to reclaiming our time and liberating our minds².
Throughout my research for my book, it became clear that time (and indirectly energy) management is an issue for some overthinkers, but not all.
Every time I interviewed an overthinker, it deepened my understanding of the different nuances of overthinking, leading me to identify six main archetypes.
Some overthinker types feel more time-pressured than others, which is partially (if not entirely) due to their toxic mental habit inhibiting one or more of the time management pillars.
For instance, the Maximiser has a strong need to be in control. However, when amplified through their overthinking, it becomes an obsession for perfection. In this case, the Maximiser doesn’t aim for “good enough” and can end up spending a lot of time chasing “perfection”³. As a result, they lose some of their Awareness of how precious time is.
Similarly, the Observer fears uncertainty and the failure that might result from it. They can never be 100% sure things will go according to plan, so they keep postponing their decisions and actions. They don’t trust their Adaptation capability.
Note, if you want to know more about the different overthinker types, you can preorder my book Act Before You overThink here => https://lisonmage.com/act-before-you-overthink-book/
- Robinson John P., “Americans Less Rushed But No Happier: 1965–2010 Trends in Subjective Time and Happiness”, Social Indicators Research (2013): 1091–1104.
- Dierdorff Erich C., “Time Management Is About More Than Life Hacks”, Harvard Business Review (2020) — accessed April 2022
- Mage Lison, Langlois Guy, Act Before You overThink: Make Decisions Easier and Liberate Your Mind (The Mindful Experience, 2022)