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New Year is a time for many resolutions, and a common one - I suspect! - is to manage your budget better. And by budget you mean money: how to spend less, save more, that kind of thing. Tallying up how much you could put into your holiday fund if you stopped the morning trip to Starbucks, etc.
However the real budgeting, claims Arnold Bennett, should be over your time. After all, there are ways to make more money - but you can never vary that 24 hour limit. More, it's exactly the same for everyone, meaning that those high-flying, multi-tasking types are working to the same budget as you - so how are they (apparently) getting so much more out of their time?
"We shall never have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is."
For me time management has become a huge issue - in fact, I'm taking holiday time tomorrow so I can fit in a short course on the very subject! My Dooyoo profile quite often lists some of my current preoccupations keeping me from the site: new job, finishing off my MSc, starting a diploma in management. I'd like to add to that my attempts to keep fit, cooking, trying to relax and stay sane - oh, and about a billion hobbies including writing book reviews! So you can see why the topic is important to me, and why a free Kindle download of this short book felt worth the time to read it!
Now, Mr Bennett's advice isn't designed to help you at work, unlike many books on the topic of time management - although there are some good points about this in the preface (at least in the Kindle edition I have). No: in such a short volume the author covers the much wider topic of life in general. How to *live* (and not merely exist) with that unavoidable constraint of having only a fixed number of hours to do it in. He starts by more or less sweeping aside time spent at work (or sleeping) as inevitable (although claims that if you take the advice here those working hours can feel more worthwhile) so let's talk about the important time: that which is yours to control (well, we can hope, right?! ;))
The basic premise of this book is that to feel that you're getting more out of life you really need to start using those 'spare' hours after work and before sleep doing something productive. Bennett is scathing about people wasting their hours - not just evenings, but that time spent e.g. travelling to/from work - either in mindless pursuits such as reading newspapers, or doing nothing at all, probably with excuses of being tired.
He argues that if you are using your time in a more fulfilling way, that will itself chase away fatigue. There is a convincing case given for finding some useful time: in fact, even allowing for a social life, surely there are three hours an evening in which to 'do' - something, anything? Take just half of that, and - say, every other night - devote an hour and half to "your immortal soul". Start slow, and as time progresses you'll find your need to feed your intellect, or your soul if you will, encourages you to spend increasing hours to whatever pursuit to which you commit yourself.
And what exactly to devote this time to? Well, self-improvement of any kind, of course! In the time this was written, and from Arnold Bennett's perspective, that largely seems to involve reading, preferably about art or music, or even literature if you can - Marcus Aurelius being absolutely ideal for those wishing to improve themselves! ;) I'll leave you to discover more of the suggestions, but as outdated as they seem, the advice around it - give yourself more than 90 minutes to fit in an hour and half's work, and you'll need to train your concentration - are still utterly relevant.
As I say, there is a very old-fashioned tone to this script, unsurprisingly given its 1910 publication date. I can imagine some people would find this grating - indeed, there were moments when my thoughts on the advice were tempered with: "It's all right for you - you seem to have servants taking care of all the chores for you!", not to mention the very sexist assumption that the reader is male. However I came to take it all as part of the charm - and if nothing else, it shows that such issues as time management and self improvement haven't changed *that* much over the century! And even then, the advice remains relevant, especially the 'dangers to avoid'.
I'd suggest this book (if 60 pages can be called a book!) is best aimed at people who want to take up a new hobby or interest, or just to get something more out of life in general. The advice is simple and obvious, but no less valuable for that. And along the way you can chuckle a little at the very old-fashioned tone in the writing, from a time when reading a newspaper was the worst way you could waste your time! Personally, it's made me look again at how I spend my time and to notice that I could be using it far better with a little will power and forward planning. The 90-minutes every (other) day isn't impossible, even if you're busy, although my personal suggestion would be to start with just 30 minutes, say - a bit less daunting, and I don't suppose Mr Bennett had to do his own cooking and laundry, nor factor in time for catching up with his favourite TV programs or blogs!
I'd like to leave you with this quote from the book:
"Which of us is not saying to himself - which of us has not been saying to himself all his life: 'I shall alter that when I have a little more time'?"
"The proper, wise balancing of one's whole life may depend upon the feasibility of a cup of tea at an unusual hour."
Lots of versions, including a Kindle download - which is free at mo!
around 60 pages
First published in 1910, as part of a larger work entitled "How to Live"
*side note: I've mentioned the Kindle often enough, but no, I don't own one! I've downloaded the free PC application to let me read a few e-books, but you can't take them into the bath with you ;)