Don't go to one of Stephan Rechtschaffen's workshops expecting to get advice on time management. "The time management taught at business seminars is essentially designed to make you more materially productive," says Rechtschaffen, founder of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York and author of "Time Shifting: A Guide to Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life." "The reward for those who 'manage' time well is usually just more to do."
Rechtschaffen teaches "time awareness" — living fully "in the moment." Get past the New Age rhetoric and he starts to make sense: we waste great chunks of time by thinking about what we've just done and what we've got to do next, instead of what we're doing now. Rechtschaffen is really talking about focus. Here are five of practical tips from "time Shifting" for improving your concentration at work:
1. Get to meetings early so you can compose yourself before the others arrive.
2. When the phone rings, let it ring one extra time to "get centered."
3. Practice "mindfulness" by doing just one thing at a time, giving it your full attention.
4. Pause after you finish one task before beginning another. If possible, make it last for several minutes.
5. While waiting for a fax or an elevator, think about the present instead of succumbing to the rush and anxiety of tasks still waiting.
Coordinates: Stephan Rechtschaffen, firstname.lastname@example.org; "Time Shifting" (Doubleday, 1996), $22.95
A version of this article appeared in the August/September 1996 issue of Fast Company magazine.