The goal of saving minutes to find hours in a week is the cumulative effect of those minutes. Ten minutes here, five minutes there, all add up over the course of a week. Often people report having more time but they cannot always pinpoint what they did differently; rather, they share that their thinking was clearer and time was saved. In effect, they connect the state of their mind to time.
The same people also deepened their understanding of creating a true connection with another human being and time. When they truly listened and were present with someone, not only was the experience richer, but time was saved. It ultimately comes down to which level of mind has the greatest influence over each individual moment of your day.
Here are other real scenarios of how by-passing the Thinking Mind can save you hours in a week and create a profound connection with those important to you. They have been shared with me over the years; some are tiny slices of life, while others are significant life events that had real consequences.
To help you better understand the Three Levels of Mind and how they operate, you will find each scenario broken up into three parts: The Problem, What Happened (dissecting the problem for understanding) and Solution (how the problem was solved).
“Making S#!t Up”—How a simple e-mail wasted precious time at work and caused disconnection from family time at home
Bill has just received an e-mail from a person with whom he has a tense relationship. Because of a recurring issue between the two of them, he interprets this e-mail as “snarky” and bullheaded. As he sits at his desk, his mind fills with scenarios and responses he would like to send back. This internal “chatter” goes on for five minutes as he stews, before sending a reply in an equally “dry” tone. However, he immediately regrets sending it, and wallows further in guilt for another five minutes. Productivity loss: 10 minutes. As he was working on something else at the time, he needs to refocus his attention: another five minutes to build back momentum. Total running time –15 minutes of productivity loss. Because of this decaying relationship, a heaviness and on-going conversation weighs within him he is barely aware of, and that won’t go away: Cost to his inner well-being is immeasurable.
But Bill just doesn’t let it stand. He takes the issue home with him and spends time discussing it with his spouse. During the evening (and while he was “in his head") his children came to talk to him about their day, but he only half-listened and didn’t really connect with them the way he wanted to and they hoped for. Their relationship remains static.
Let’s explore Bill’s scenario using our understanding of the Three Levels of Mind
Bill’s Thinking Mind set up a screen that prevented him from accurately interpreting the e-mail. He “made s#!t up” about it. Because he interpreted the e-mail that way, his response was emotional and reactive. After he sent his reply, his Working Mind was allowed to be heard and his Thinking Mind regretted the decision. Over the next few hours he felt the effects of the e-mail and searched for clues to justify and rationalize his actions. Later, he jumped into the future to create a scenario about how he would back-peddle. Remember, the Thinking Mind will rehash the past endlessly, and needs to be right and thinks about the future. In this case the Working Mind lost out.
If Bill had understood how his mind functions, he could have recognized his Thinking Mind in action, ignored its pleas for retribution, and interpreted the e-mail from a neutral, rational perspective. Doing nothing at that moment would have allowed him to get back to work or pick up the phone for clarification. Total time if he had done this: let’s say one-to-three minutes lost. Either would have been fine; he would have been able to spend time with his family and have a meaningful relationship with them. Another solution would be to ignore the e-mail and get to it at the appropriate time. This again requires a disciplined mind and recognition that people are conditioned to respond to each other in certain ways.
Bill’s scenario plays itself out hundreds of times a day within organizations, wasting untold thousands of minutes of productive time. Just for fun, multiply the 15 minutes over the number of employees that work at your company. It could run into the thousands of minutes: 100 employees translate into 1500 minutes a day (approximately 25 hours). Not all people stew and keep tension inside them every day, so I exaggerate somewhat to make a point. But for the most part, if you ask these people if they are productive, they would say yes.
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