One Mind, Two Systems

Gaining insight in troubled times with Paul Loomans’ Time Surfing

Paul Loomans’ Zen approach to keeping time on your side is a refreshing and reassuring read with an unconventional perspective on time management. Unfortunately the unhandy landscape format, which might have been chosen to underline the unconventionality of the book, does not contribute to keep itself on your side.

This easy to read guidebook written addresses modern life time pressures and how to better deal with them. Loomans unfolds his own seven steps method that anchors in intuition and empowers readers to drop lists and other structured approaches.

The author differentiates between two systematically different approaches to managing your time. The first one is the accelerated, fast paced DOING that manages life with our heads. The second one is the slower paced, reflecting SENSING that comes from within us.

The last part of the book is dedicated to very practical applications in everyday life: understanding procrastination and deadlines; handling email mindfully, being master or servant of your smartphone and others.

I like a lot that his approach really is an alternative to the “getting things done” (GTD) and time management paradigms, which all proclaim more of the same. Namely that you can get things done by gathering tasks, detailing tasks and by then organizing them using tools and apps.

Contrary to this, the zen monk lays out how your experiencing self is able to manage your day, your personal as well as your work matters by cultivating intuition. Wait! Before your inner voice now goes off and says things like “oh well, intuition – that’s just an umbrella term for wishy-washy”, try to take this in:

“It is about using feelings and the awareness of how you relate to tasks in order to get them done. That is entirely different from letting lists determine your life!”

Remember the title “Time SURFING”? so don’t forget that it is all about the ride. There is no ride without a sense of ease and confidence. Without those whatever you do, soon becomes a bad trip. Use lists not to determine what you have to do, but as checklists to help you not to forget things. Your sense of ease will increase over time.

The house of love (Loomans calls it The four storey house) has a basement where our emotions live. Emotions are our bodies ancient, yet extraordinarily relevant communication system permanently transmitting signals from underneath. They can guide us to come to terms with whatever arises.

Background programs are rumination and worry we carry and accumulate in a day, a week or for months on end. Much like too many apps open on your phone or computer these programs eat into your capacity to function and hence bring your performance down. Address the emotional message of each background program. Not the content.

With regard to Deadlines he describes the unhealthy pattern of the procrastination monster: chronicle stress due to relying on your body’s survival system might in the short run help you to get things done and to deliver, but it does so in CLOSED state of mind and body.

Paying attention to transitions from project to project and to how to start a new project with an OPEN attitude allows us to surf time smoothly rather than paddle it gruffly.