Managing Time – Successfully Living in the Present.

About Dr. Jon Warner

by Dr. Jon Warner, 
Most of the advice offered to become better organized or to manage our time more efficiently / effectively seems to simplistically come down to four basic steps.

1)Change our focus (essentially to adopt more disciplined approach),

2) Plan or prepare more than we do now

3) Rank our important tasks and prioritize them and finally

4.)Deal with Interruptions firmly.

This is all sensible advice but it suggests not only a rather linear set of future changes to adopt but also underplays the role of the individual’s overall attitude and how they tend to regard time as a concept.

Perhaps a more useful model to encompass how we conceptually view time has been put forward by a Stanford professor Phillip Zimbardo based on his international research over the last decade or so. In his 2008 book The “Paradox of Time”, author and psychologist (with co-author John Boyd) suggested that we all have an orientation towards the past, present and future (and a mix of all three of course). While this can be in healthy balance in a few people, it is often less than an ideal mix for many, or one perspective is dominant over the others. Zimbardo developed an assessment and set of six scales (two for each time period) to measure differences between people called the “Zimbardo Time Perspective” with a FREE test to undertake at The Time Paradox website.

The time perspective biases, or time frames, that emerge most consistently from the factor analysis of the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory are: Future-Orientation (including transcendental), Past-Orientation, Present-Hedonistic Orientation, and Present-Fatalistic Orientation.

Zimbardo identified 3 main problems according to his research and from the many thousands of people who have now subsequently taken the test. These are:

  1. People who are trapped in past negative time perspective (being thereby trapped in seeing the past as relatively unhappy and having a direct impact on how they feel in the present)
  2. People who are trapped in too much present fatalism (or feeling powerless to influence their future)
  3. People who are trapped in too much future orientation (sacrificing present enjoyment for a future state that may never come about).

What can we say about people’s varying perspectives about time as a concept?

According to Zimbardo, People who have different time perspectives or patterns on the chart behave differently and we can make general statements about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. Please note however, all of these are expressed in somewhat stereotypical fashion and will be modified by other attitudes and perspectives in an individual’s life:

I. Past-oriented people (especially when negative):

  1. are generally more concerned with their past and seem to be able to distance themselves from the realities of the present or the future.
  2. are usually tend to be traditional, religious or faith-oriented, and conservative.
  3. typically have a stable sense of self.
  4. tend to be family-and group-oriented in most cases and are therefore often distrustful of strangers; thus they may have a tendency to be prejudiced.
  5. are usually focused on their obligations and commitments whether personal or collective (i.e.. family, cultural, or group/tribal obligations).
  6. have rituals and myths playing an important roles in their lives.
  7. may have guilt as a more dominant feeling than others.
  8. usually try to maintain the status quo and thus may not be progressive.
  9. usually do not take risks and may not be very adventurous.
  10. usually tend to be dependent and cooperative within their chosen group rather than competitive.

II. Present-oriented people (especially when fatalistic):

  1. tend to focus on the present and their current sensations, feelings, and concerns while ignoring commitments made in the past or for the future; thus they are more concerned with “what is” than “what was” or “what may be”.
  2. are more concrete rather than abstract in their thinking (i.e. a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush).
  3. tend to give up temptations or delay gratification with difficulty and thus they are easily distracted from the performance of necessary current tasks (and can be procrastinators).
  4. tend to concentrate on activities that bring pleasure and avoid pain.
  5. may repeat the same mistakes they have made in the past.
  6. usually more sensation and novelty seekers, more aggressive, more short-term depressed, less conscientious, and less emotionally stable. They have less concern for future consequences, less ego and impulse control, and less preference for consistency.
  7. When poor, uneducated or under-educated tend to be present-oriented since they usually tend to focus on emergent needs of the present.
  8. are more concerned with immediate gratification, and less concerned about the future.
  9. because they are immediate pleasure seekers, usually don’t pay good attention to their health.
  10. are usually considered to be fun people to be around.

III. Future-oriented people:

  1. are more focused on their future than the present or the past; their thoughts are concerned with the future consequences of their present actions; they logically analyse various outcomes that may result from their action.
  2. are goal-oriented and can delay gratification and endure an unpleasant situation in order to achieve long-term goals. They pay attention to responsibility, liability, efficiency, distant pay-off, and tend to optimize future outcomes. Thus they can work hard and avoid temptations, distractions, waste of time to accomplish a goal. They usually tend to rehearse various future plans (and may wasted much time is so doing).
  3. Since they are concerned about the future, they tend to not spend all of their money and resources (but may not save enough in the present).
  4. could be either cooperative or competitive depending on which action results in the best outcome.
  5. tend to be more health-conscious in order to prevent future negative health outcomes.
  6. may be unable to fully enjoy fun activities due to the fear of wasting time.
  7. may have difficulty in intimate relationships since they often thrive on control, predictability, and consistency, factors that may interfere with the freedom and spontaneity of relationships.
  8. Although they usually have low anxiety levels, concern for the future may increase anxiety. They usually tend to be workaholic, and have more mid-life crises.
  9. tend to be more conscientious, less aggressive, less depressed, more reward-dependent, less sensation seeking, more studious, more creative but also more continually anxious than others.
  10. tend to have more self-esteem, energy, openness, and ego-control.

IV. Balance in time perspectives:

The authors suggest that in general, the combination of the following time perspective is ideal:

  1. Lower past negativism
  2. Higher past positivism
  3. Lower present fatalism
  4. Higher present hedonism
  5. Higher futurism
  6. Medium transcendental futurism

Can a more balanced time perspective be brought about?

For Zimbardo, the map he offers is not the territory (however the results emerge) so individuals can use it as a guide and then set about making changes (however long this may take) to their attitude and behaviour (especially when negative past experiences or unhealthy levels of fatalism are in their profile). For example, although a person may have had a negative past which cannot be changed, they can engage in re framing their past by changing their attitude toward what happened (with or without help to do so). And people who want to become more future oriented can write down their goals, chart their progress, make to-do lists, and work toward long-term rewards. Clearly, changing one’s time perspective requires much effort because each of us has to potentially change deeply ingrained beliefs and habits. However, research shows that such a change is readily within our reach with a reasonable degree of focus and commitment and people can greatly increase the levels of happiness in their lives. As the authors say

“Our ability to reconstruct the past, to interpret the present,

and to construct the future gives us the power to be happy”.

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Walmart to make first direct pitch to big corporate ad buyers at New York event.
The event marks Walmart’s first effort to grow its nascent advertising business and heralds the retailer’s rising challenge to online ad leaders Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Walmart will meet large consumer goods companies and advertising firms for the first time in New York next week to pitch its advertising business, as the world’s largest retailer aims to rev up its website and stores as a platform for other companies to reach customers.

The event marks Walmart’s first effort to grow its nascent advertising business and heralds the retailer’s rising challenge to online ad leaders Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and Amazon.

The event, called "5260," is named after a Walmart store near the retailer’s hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, which is known for being a test lab for retail innovation, Walmart told Reuters.

It is likely to be attended by hundreds of companies ranging from Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Coca Cola to Mattel, Glaxosmithkline and NBC Universal, multiple sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The country’s top marketing and advertising firms are also likely to be in attendance, the sources, who did not wish to be named, added. Walmart declined to name the attendees.

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Walmart’s pitch will be simple: encourage some of the biggest advertisers to shift their spending to Walmart and away from rivals like Google, Facebook and Amazon. And Walmart says that its massive customer base and data on what shoppers purchase give it a compelling edge.

As consumer behavior has shifted, a growing number of shoppers now begin their product searches on Amazon instead of Google, forcing companies to move their ad budgets to Amazon – a significant change that bodes well for Walmart.

Walmart heralded its ambitions at its shareholder meeting last year when Chief Executive Doug McMillon said, "We have a tiny ad business … It could be bigger."

Since then, Walmart has bought its website advertising in-house, consolidated ad sales for its stores and website under the Walmart Media Group and acquired a startup called Polymorph Labs to boost the business.

The move could help Walmart shore up sales and margins at a time when revenue is likely to come under stress from tariffs on Chinese imports, and margins are under pressure from its billions of dollars in e-commerce investments.

Stefanie Jay, vice president and general manager of Walmart Media Group, told Reuters the company’s "core differentiator" is that its ad offerings are informed not just by online purchase behavior and intent but also by data on what people are buying in stores before and after they see an ad, something its online rivals are unable to see.

Eighty-seven percent of shopping in the United States still happens in stores, she said.

Over 300 million customers visit Walmart’s stores every month, and over 300 million shopped with Walmart online as recently as January, drawing in more shoppers than Amazon, Google and Facebook, according to research firms. "Advertisers are always looking for that complete picture to better understand where they should spend their ad dollars," Jay said.

Walmart’s ad offerings will include sponsored search and display ads, which drive awareness and engagement. Jay said Walmart will add video ads this year.

Along with Jay, other senior Walmart executives attending the event include Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer; Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer; and Charles Redfield, executive vice president of food for Walmart U.S.

The opportunity for Walmart will be capitalizing on the share Google is losing, consultants said. Although spending on Google search ads continues to grow and is expected to be up 17% this year to $40 billion, Google’s market share is expected to slip to 71% by 2020 as Amazon grows, according to research firm Marketer.

Even so, Walmart faces an uphill task.

Beyond search ads, Amazon offers display ads, TV-like ads in live sports telecasts and targeted ads to people as they travel around the web.

Amazon’s global digital ad revenue is expected to rise by more than 52% in 2019 to reach $14.03 billion, according to eMarketer. Pivotal Research estimates it will reach $38 billion by 2023.

In the United States, Amazon is the third-largest digital ad publisher behind Google and Facebook, which combined control about 60% of U.S. online ad spending. Amazon’s share is 5.5%. See MoreSee Less

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