Live Each Day in Real Time

12 Practices That Put You in Control

ARTICLE | Dec 27, 2017

By Jeff Davidson

What would your career be like if you had the ability to tackle problems and challenges as they arise? What if you had a sense of control and ease about each day? You would be living in real time.

You might already know people who live in real time, or who live out significant chunks of their life in real time. Who are these people? These are the people who have the time to take a phone call, actually know the names of their children's friends, and perhaps stay in shape.

Review these 12 components of living in real time, with the realization that each of these are within your grasp:

1. Leave home in the morning with grace and ease. If you can manage the "beforehand" by taking care of as many things as possible the night before, in the morning you only have to get bodies out the door. No need to experience a mad rush, because you have everything ready to go.

2. Focus on the important issues facing your organization, your department or division, and your job or career. Pay homage to the issues that you identify as important in your life, and have the strength to ignore the less important ones. Magically, when you handle the important things, the others tend to fall into place.

3. Handle and address the mail when it arrives, keep piles from forming, and return phone calls within 24 hours. Doing so avoids being inundated by too much mail, overwhelmed by towering piles on your desk, and blindsided by a mounting number of calls to deal with.

4. Enjoy a leisurely lunch. Understand the importance of fully completing tasks, so that when you go to lunch, you're at lunch. Take the time to chew slowly and carefully. Put down your cellphone or the newspaper and concentrate on tasting the food.

5. Depart from the workplace at a normal hour when possible, and feel good about what you accomplish each day. Leaving the workday at a reasonable time is the most important step towards permanently living in real time. When you heed the magic question "What do I need to accomplish by the end of the day to feel good about leaving on time?", you have little excuse for leaving in a bad mood.

6. Have sufficient and up-to-date health, life, disability, and automobile insurance coverage. If you want to live in real time, insurance is part of the overall picture. Acquiring adequate insurance to protect you and your loved ones likely supports your overall priorities.

7. File your income taxes on time. According to the IRS, in any given year 7 percent of taxpayers seek an extension. You, on the other hand, once making the decision to live in real time, know too well that taxes will always be around and that completing your own tax returns on a timely basis—by yourself or with the help of someone else—yields peace of mind once their done.

8. Take time to be with friends and relatives. People, not things, count most in life. Carve out time on your scheduling software or appointment calendar to ensure that you don't shortchange the key people in your life.

9. Stay in shape and at your desired weight. Fitness experts say that working out for only 30 minutes a day can keep you comfortably fit.

10. Make time for hobbies. On the way to losing your time, did you abandon enjoyable activities that were a part of what made you who you are? Revisit that stamp collection or your garden, the hiking club, or whatever you let slide. Living in real time means enjoying your most rewarding hobbies and pastimes on a regular basis.

11. Participate monthly in a worthy cause. It's not possible to give your time and attention to all worthy causes, or even many worthy causes. Your life is finite, regardless of how long you live. When you pick the one or two causes that matter most and take action, you feel good about yourself and about how you're spending your time.

12. Drop back at any time, take a long deep breath, collect your thoughts, and renew your spirit.

Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC, is principal, Breathing Space® Institute, Raleigh, North Carolina ( An author and presenter on work-life balance, he holds the world's only registered trademark from the United States Patent and Trademark Office as "The Work-Life Balance Expert."®


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