Govern the clock

A clock adorns the medieval Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall) in Ypres, Belgium, as seen in March 2007

A clock adorns the medieval Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall) in Ypres, Belgium,  March 2007.

“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”Golda Meir

As strange as it seems, much of what we think of as “time management” is just one more way of being governed by the clock.  While some principles of time management are useful, such as setting goals and priorities, other advice may end up being counterproductive.  For example, this whole idea of multitasking is taken too far when we get so greedy about packing so much into our lives that we give nothing our full attention.  Rather than having a few very enjoyable projects and hobbies, we take on too much and end up with a vague feeling of stress, pressure, and lack of fulfillment when things go undone.  Rather than enjoying time with one special friend or family member, we feel an illogical urgency to make ourselves available every waking hour to anyone with our cell or text number.

Whether we are managing money or time, if we lose sight of them as means to an end, we wind up with the tail wagging the dog.  Zealously plotting to squeeze 25 hours into every day often means that we push too hard to relax or enjoy anything, defeating the whole purpose of planning our time.  I plead guilty to being one of the worst offenders when it comes to wanting to do too much.  It goes with the territory of loving many things.  But age does confer certain benefits, one of which is the absolute necessity of slowing down; achieving less but savoring more.

Time for Living” is a favorite old song from the 60’s by a group called The Association.  I’ve sung this song to myself often over the many years since I used to play it on my record player with my brother’s LP.  One of my favorite lines from the song says “I took off my watch, and found I had all the time in the world.” Though no one would ever accuse me of being a workaholic, I do get stressed about time far more than I should.

Today, I hope we can all use the clock as a tool to help us enjoy life more, rather than allowing it to be a tyrant poking us in the backside with a stick, telling us to HURRY UP and keeping us from paying attention as our life ticks away.  Whatever you are doing today, take five! or ten! or maybe even an hour or two — and just enjoy something.  Feel free to tell us about it in the comments below.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Chris

    Hi Julia,
    This message has struck a chord with me. Often I’ve been accused of “having too many irons in the fire” at one time. Yet, I, too, have many interests. As we age, we gain experience; and with experience, hopefully wisdom. My thoughts are similar to yours. Quality sometimes outweighs the quantity of activity. We all have varying amounts of money, health conditions and even interests. But we all have the same amount of time! As we look back and recount our lives, most won’t remember the flurry of events, activities, and daily tasks; we will remember the fewer times that were most enjoyable and meaningful. I’m sure most of those times involved a spouse, kids or grandkids, or other loved ones (family and friends). Time is a most precious gift. How we make use of it, in the end, will be what matters.
    Hope you have a wonderful day!

    • Hi Chris, so far so good– it’s a very busy day for me, but busy is happy. At least usually. There’s an old saying “time is money” but I figured out long ago that, as you say, time is a limited gift, whereas money (at least theoretically, and often actually) can be accumulated to the point where one has way more than one really needs. So, I’d say that time is actually worth far more than money…as many rich people on their deathbeds would tell you. I think that’s why it’s so easy to get greedy with time. In fact, for most of the people I know personally, it seems far easier to be generous with money than with time. Think of the difference between, say, sending someone a card, flowers or a gift, versus spending an hour or two with them over tea or lunch. Sadly, in our relatively wealthy society, I think the former has become much more common than the latter. But as a wise person said, most of us need presence more than presents.

      • Chris

        I’m guilty, but in total agreement with you. As I mentioned, I am involved with many things, thus splitting my time. At some point, that diminishes the effectiveness of the little time that’s being applied. I suppose it’s a balance, like all things in life. I think other people appreciate more your presence than the presents (cards and flowers). I’ll have to work on that.

        About the wind chime, you wrote about it seven years ago (yesterday’s replay). It was a homemade device from airplane parts. Just thought it would be interesting to see the design. 😊 Have a great day!

        • Yes, and I think I would have remembered getting an image of such an interesting wind chime. Perhaps she sent it in an email that I never got, or that somehow was missed. I went back and searched my emails sent during that time, but couldn’t find it. Maybe if Sheila reads this, she can send it again. If so, I’ll certainly share it.

  2. Chris

    Hey, did you ever get the photo of the wind chime that Sheila was describing in the comment 7 years ago? Maybe you could share it? Sounded interesting! 😊

    • Chris, I don’t recall any photos of wind chimes, but if Sheila sent it to me, maybe she can remind me and I’ll try to hunt it up.

  3. Susan

    Julia, this is one of the wisest things you’ve every written, and it came at a moment when I really needed to read it!

    • Thank you, Susan! I so appreciate your encouragement. I’m glad you found the post helpful.

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