Embrace the Subjective Power of Time

In my book The Time-Optimized Life, I talk about how the ancient Greeks have two terms for the word time: chronos and karios.

“Chronos is the measurable, or quantitative, aspect of time. Look up and see what time it is on the clock right now. Chronos is the way we estimate our plans and quantify our performance.

Kairos is subjective but no less important to understand because it is qualitative. Instances of joy, frustration, satisfaction, determination, resolution, and completion can be tied to a set chronos measure but are more deeply expressed through a kairos explanation.”

From The Time-Optimized Life, pages 2 and 3

While the objective (chronos) allocation of time to complete activities is critical, we often discount or overlook the subjective (kairos) benefits of time optimizing our lives. As I work with clients, I find they can fail to see when there are benefits to being a little more one-sided in guarding their time. It’s time you be more mindful of your inner world and find ways to shift the management of your time from exclusively external systems. How do you do that? Let’s explore a few ways.


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Defining Time to Your Purposes

Imagine a world where every task serves a deeper kairos purpose, to your needs. That’s the power of aligning your time management with your core values.

Are you driven by a desire for learning and growth? Craving deep connections? Contributing to a cause greater than yourself? Understanding your core values allows you to prioritize tasks that resonate, not just those that fill your calendar. Suddenly, the mundane transforms into kairos steppingstones towards a fulfilling future. Scheduling a learning session becomes an investment in growth, not just another chore. Prioritizing quality time with loved ones becomes a conscious nourishment of your relationships. When your time management reflects your values, you experience a sense of direction and fulfillment.

Honoring Your Natural Rhythms

Personal care is often overlooked as a tool to improve your use of time. We all possess unique energy patterns. Some of us are “morning folks,” energized by the sunrise. Others find their creative spark ignites later in the day. Ignoring these natural rhythms is a recipe for wasted time and frustration.

Instead, learn to identify your peak productivity hours. Schedule demanding tasks like report writing or brainstorming during your prime kairos time. Relegate less demanding emails or administrative tasks to chronos periods of lower energy. This attunement to your internal energy flow allows you to work smarter, not harder.

Your Feelings Matter and Count

Our emotions are powerful kairos influencers of our time management.

Feeling overwhelmed? Focusing on complex tasks becomes an uphill battle.  Anxiety can lead to procrastination, while excitement can fuel hyperfocus (or a lack of focus). Recognizing the emotional kairos undercurrents influencing your time management choices is crucial.

Take proactive steps (that is what time optimization is all about). Feeling overwhelmed by a looming deadline? Schedule small, achievable tasks to build momentum and ease anxiety.  Need a creative burst? Schedule time for brainstorming while your emotions are running high (but make sure it is positive). By managing your emotional state, you create a more stable foundation for effective time management.

Integrating Chronos and Kairos

Hopefully by now you can see there is a place for the objective and subjective in the use of your time. Life can and should be the integration of chronos and kairos. Getting better at chronos (objective) planning brings more quality kairos (subjective) moments in our lives. Appreciating kairos experiences helps you to organize chronos blocks to get more purpose, tied to your natural rhythms, leading to a better emotional state.


Download Chapter 1 and Get the Full Context

Get a complimentary copy of chapter 1 to get the full concept of the subjective power of time. Click here!


David Buck is the author of the book The Time-Optimized Life, owner of Kairos Management Solutions, LLC, and founder of the Infinity Lifestyle Design program. As a certified professional retirement coach (CPRC), David works with financial services providers helping their clients create a post-career lifestyle strategy. To learn more, contact him at dave@kmstime.com or visit Infinity Lifestyle Design.

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