Time management guru now teaches thinking

June 29, 1992|By Richard Scheinin | Richard Scheinin,Knight-Ridder News Service

Nearly 20 years ago, Alan Lakein published these words: "Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it."

Those were the opening sentences to his book "How To Get Control of Your Time and Your Life," which went on to sell over 3 million copies. It made Mr. Lakein the guru of time management, a much sought-after corporate consultant and adviser to busy celebrities like Gloria Steinem and Neil Diamond. It made him a rich man.

Fourteen years ago, on his 40th birthday, he retired. And just what has the guru of time management done since?

Well, he has lectured at Esalen and slept under the Big Sur skies. He has conducted research on parties in Beverly Hills. He has moved slowly north, from Big Sur to Pacific Grove, Salinas and Santa Cruz. He has watched 3,300 videos in the past three years, rating each in his computer, noting which ones he wants to review and when. Among his favorites are "Ninotchka" and "Howard the Duck." And lest you think that he has wasted his time, remember: Mr. Lakein always told people to balance work time with free time, to have fun.

"I wouldn't call it a waste of time," he says of his hobbies. "I call it satisfaction." Besides, Mr. Lakein, now 54, has a new idea: tri-dimensioning.

Mr. Lakein says it's a new way of thinking that will improve the quality of your life and work -- as much of an improvement as color TV was over black and white. Basically, when you are tri-dimensioning, you are simultaneously focused on any three aspects -- or "dimensions" -- of a given activity.

If you go to a restaurant, Mr. Lakein suggests, try tri-dimensioning on "food," "people" and "ambience." Don't do it casually. Soak up everything: smells, colors, textures, clothing, conversations, the quality of the light. But don't be obsessive about it, Mr. Lakein says: "When you've had enough, stop and enjoy the meal."

You have, in essence, programmed yourself like a computer, experiencing those portions of reality that you wish to enhance: "Whatever you're doing gets enriched," Mr. Lakein says. "It helps you focus moment by moment, so you can see changes taking place. When you're tri-dimensioning, you're checking every single thought against your dimensions."

It's instant Zen. You're in the moment, seeing the world anew.

Mr. Lakein explains his new theory as he flips through the handbook he has written for his "premier" tri-dimensioning workshop at the UC-Santa Cruz Extension office in Santa Clara, Calif., this month.

"It's the end of linear thinking," he declares.

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