Hey procrastinator: even you can use the power of time magic
It’s the one thing we never have enough of: that ancient and non-renewable resource, time. But take a look at two new time wizards to help you turn that slippery flow of time into something more viscous and meaningful. Meet Melissa Ambrosini and Nick Broadhurst, authors The magic of time, a resource that not only shares techniques to boost your creativity and improve your productivity, but also includes health tips to make your life… the best it can be. Melissa took the time (pun intended) to share with us her inspiration from writing the project with her husband, tips for getting started, and some of her favorite time management tricks.
Wanderlust: Your book is full of very accessible and easy-to-implement techniques that take the stress out of many daily tasks. But as you well know, people almost always choose to keep doing things the way they’ve been doing them, even though they know that changing a habit might pay off. What do you say to people who don’t want that first result of a change effort, whether it’s downloading a new task management app or adopting a new way of thinking? How would you get them over that first hump and onto a new lane?
Melissa Ambrosini: If you feel reluctance to make changes, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and not beat yourself up. Change can be difficult and uncomfortable, so it’s natural to feel some resistance to it at first. At the same time, change can also lead to personal growth and evolution. It’s a bridge from where you are now to where you want to be, so persevere!
Choosing the right mindset can be a very helpful first step (which is why we devote a whole chapter to it in the book). In particular, it is very important to adopt a growth mindset. This means an integrated understanding that your skills in this field are not permanent, they can be improved. Research shows that this mindset can radically increase your chances of successfully creating change.
Another helpful tip is to start with a habit or skill that you enjoy or that plays to your natural strengths and break it down into manageable chunks. So start small and as you start accumulating a few wins, you can slowly add more and more changes.
WL: You and Nick have a diverse and deep background in learning about health and guiding your community to optimize their lives. At what point did you realize that crystallization of your knowledge in a time management book would be the most powerful way to unleash your magic?
M.A: If you had told any of us a few years ago that one day we would write a book about time and how to spend it, we probably would have laughed heartily. After all, we could not with time! And we never had enough of it—Nick was a single father who wanted to wind down with no time for his son, while I was a jaded people-lover whose time was always being eaten up by other people’s priorities.
As our relationship began over ten years ago, so began our journey to transform our relationship over time—not just so we could “do more,” but so we could create a spacious life that gave enough time for activities and people we love.
Over time, we became so good at optimizing our time that people around us (friends, family, followers) started asking us: “How do you do it?!”
We didn’t realize we were doing anything special, but they saw us doing superhuman amounts of work while living joyful and meaningful lives.
So after being asked the same question over and over again, we finally realized that we needed to collect all the tools and techniques that have become second nature to us in one place so that others can use them too. That’s when the idea for The magic of time really took root.
WL: Focus (and honing skills related to focus) is a constant theme in the book. For this digital generation growing up in a world of technology and notifications, it’s especially important to practice discernment and learn to keep their attention on one thing at a time. What advice would you give parents, teachers, and caregivers about the best ways to help toddlers flex their focus muscles?
M.A: Our daughter is two. One way to develop focus skills with her is to not interrupt her independent play. If you start to pay attention to this, it’s actually quite funny how often we adults feel the need to join in on our children’s solo play. This is usually done with the best of intentions, but one unfortunate side effect is that it can interrupt their flow and stifle them from developing the all-important skill of focus. Therefore, of course, we play a lot with our daughter, but if she does something on her own, we do our best to keep her focused and let her explore the world without interruption.
WL: What is the one time-saving hack that has changed your life the most?
M.A: The single time-saving hack that has done the most in my life is a deep understanding of what how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. This was a huge turning point for me when I truly understood that life is not all about important moments and “important” days; life now, in the random minutes and hours we give each day. It’s incredibly empowering when you finally are get, on a heart and soul level that by thinking about how you spend small units of time (your minutes, hours and days) you can change the way your whole life unfolds and ensure that you are creating a life that is in line with your highest values and vision.
On a more concrete level, the productivity system we developed—Tick or Flick™—freed up so much mental bandwidth, took so much stress off my plate, and ensured I was doing the right things every day. It is an extremely powerful system, elegant in its simplicity. If your brain feels overwhelmed, or if you find yourself forgetting assignments or missing deadlines, I highly recommend giving it a try!
WL: You and Nick worked together to write this book, so it’s obvious that you find the best ways to make the most of your time together as partners. How important is it for someone’s primary partners (husband, business partner, co-parents, roommates, etc.) to be on the same page with these methodologies?
M.A: It obviously makes life easier when you’re on the same page with your spouse, coworkers, or boss about your approach to things like time management, planning, and organization. But if they have different views, don’t let that stop you from taking action. There are so many habits and techniques you can implement yourself to improve and optimize your time, so take action and lead by example. (When they see how much you do, and with so little stress and fuss, you might just convert them!)
However, people are allowed to have different approaches and there is no one size fits all. When you are faced with a situation where different approaches lead to tension, use the power of what I call “CCC” – Crystal Clear Communication. Communicate openly, transparently, and without ego to ensure that everyone clearly understands their responsibilities and timelines, even if they use different methods to reach the finish line.
Karina McKenzie is a writer, producer and wearer of many hats at Wanderlust. As Senior Director of Programming and Content, she recruits talent and develops experiences for Wanderlust events, oversees Wanderlust’s television platform, and writes editorial content for social and video projects. After more than ten years in the yoga world, she still can’t do a handstand far from a wall.
She served for over 5 years on the board of Yoga Foster (now Wellemental), a non-profit organization whose mission is to make mindfulness mainstream in public schools across America, and co-chaired the Green Wellness Committee at a Brooklyn public school when her children were toddlers.
She now lives in the woods of New England with her two favorite little people and her husband, learning (awkwardly) how to depend on country life.