Reflecting on time has been at the forefront of the decisions being made regarding M3 all week this week. Mantra even sounded off her views on time, although she was more questioning than being forthcoming. Is time really just a perception issue?
Feeling like you are suffering from a time deficit is depressing. You feel like you never truly accomplish anything because there is still so much left to do. You swear there are not enough hours in the day.
Regardless how you slice it, there are still 24 hours in a day. When we feel like there are not enough hours in the day, we have to look at the things we try to stuff into those hours.
There are the things we cannot forego:
Then, there are the things we feel we should not forego:
After that is a very long laundry list of things we want to do. It is as individual as we are, but holds items which probably should be classified in one of the other two lists.
How many times have you chosen to postpone things on the cannot forego list to do things on the other lists? Have you said any of the following:
- I will eat as soon as I finish _______________.
- I cannot go to bed yet because I have to ______________.
- I am just going to wear this because it is easier.
How many times have you blamed the second or third list for the things you are not doing from the cannot forego list?
You made the conscious decision one was more important than the other. It was more important to answer one more telephone call than it was to sit down and enjoy a lunch. Watching one more television program was more important than another hour of sleep.
Getting to the grocery was more important than taking the time to dress yourself in something which would make you both feel and look good. Prepping for tomorrow’s meeting (even though you are at home and not on the clock) was more important than sweeping the floor.
If you were to sit down and write everything you did yesterday…everything…, what would you discover about the time you spent?
- 7 minutes brushing teeth, getting dressed
- 8 minutes standing in kitchen eating leftovers for breakfast
- 24 total minutes watching television when passing through room
- 12 seconds to drink coffee in between morning rituals (times 5)
- 34 minutes commuting to job
When you go back to look at where the time went, you have to wonder why you thought it was important in the first place. Can you claim any of these activities?
- 7 minutes writing letter/email to BFF
- 8 minutes talking on telephone to Quaint
- 24 minutes playing with a child/children
- 12 seconds telling someone you love them (times how many?)
- 34 minutes cooking food which makes you healthier
You notice something completely missing from all of this? You need to notice and change it.
Let’s look at a few facts. This crisis is not the end of the world. It is an inconvenience. That email will still be there in 30 minutes. If it were that important, Sender would have called. Social media will be there four hours from now. Not posting a status every 41 minutes does not mean you have disappeared as a member of humanity.
If you take breaks to do something for yourself (like nap), you are far more productive. You go back to the days when you could sit down and finish a task in 18 minutes instead of 32. You balance your brain so you can pay attention…and remember more.
The sense of accomplishment when you actually get something finished on time and well makes all the things you do more worthwhile. You want that. Right?
Moderate exercise is good for you. Studies have proven moderate exercise (not something which produces a bodybuilder effect) is as effective as antidepressants. Take time to move around. Yoga. Pilates. Walk. Swim. Jump…on a trampoline or with a rope. Dance…with or without a partner.
This is not counterproductive. In fact, it stimulates your creativity. Even if what you want to do is tedious, creativity helps you devise a better mousetrap. You may discover when you return to your task there is an easier way. Unless you think outside the box, you are going to do it the same way you have always done it.
Take 10 minutes to let your mind wander. If you are terrible with time and know it will get away from you, set an alarm. But you must not think about the alarm or when it will go off. Close your eyes.
- Picture where your perfect vacation is.
- See yourself dancing on a deserted street where no one can see.
- Think about the last time you were sitting in a hot tub or a bubble bath.
By getting absorbed in these places, your body will relax, and you will feel better. Your mind will be clearer when the alarm goes off.
Set aside time to not do all of the things on your lists. Take 30 minutes to an hour to do something entirely for you. Then, do it. It is not enough to schedule it if you are not actually going to follow through.
Go to the driving range and hit a few buckets of balls. Go for a walk by yourself. Close yourself in a room with soft music and your newest book or ebook. If it is about work, read something else…just for enjoyment.
Restful Means Resting
Why do networks call eight hours of the same program a marathon? Because it is taxing your brain. Watching television is not a way to relax, since it requires us to pay attention continuously, remember tangential episodes and interpret references to items we may not have already seen. These are work activities.
Think trolling Facebook is restful? Think again. It has the same effect on your brain as a dinner party, without the music or the finger sandwiches. All tax, no refund.
What is restful? Something interesting but soothing. Choose carefully, grasshopper. Taking a walk is a great idea. Taking it in the subway station, no so much. Do something without distractions and chaos encroaching.
Go to Sleep
Naps are great for cognition, but let’s face it: Some of us cannot pull off nap time when our batteries are low. Make the most of your nighttime sleep.
1. Turn the clock to face the wall.
You do not need to be obsessing about the sleep you are not getting. Watching the clock will do that to you.
2. Get comfortable.
Lights out. Quiet. No, music does not help you sleep. It helps you not hear other noises. If the nighttime noise is a problem, turn on some very, very quiet music (sans lyrics and sans earbuds). Arrange the pillows and blankets to alleviate any sore spots. Snuggle into a position which produces restful sleep for you.
3. Slow your breathing.
Inhale to the count of four. Hold your breath to the count of seven. Exhale to the count of eight. Slowing your breathing slows your heart rate, helping you relax.
4. Empty your brain.
Yes, you can. Did you pay attention while you were counting your breathing? Try it again. This time only count the breathing cadence. Do not think about anything else. It is more effective than trying to imagine sheep hopping a fence.
5. Go to sleep.
How important is what is chewing up your time and your brain? Can you live without running to the store today? Yes. Will the world come to an end if you do not do that load of laundry today? No. Are your muscles going to dissolve if you do not go to the gym? No. Is your story line going to unravel if you are not braiding it for eight to ten hours a day? (Listen closely.) No.
Putting priority on your health and sanity helps you to focus and do those things you choose to do more accurately and faster. To do more, you have to take time for yourself and prioritize things for their value to your life.
Where did this emerge?
The most common question posed to me is How do you do so much? My answer is partly in this post. We spend every Saturday discussing how my life is influenced by or how my life influences M3. I have a terrific example.
This morning’s post was a poem named Hurry. It was created during the time I had my children at therapy. This is a time which is one of my cannot forego items. In the moment, Mantra would not be denied. Incessant.
After the first two poems, I was at a loss for what could possibly still need to be created. I called Bear to ask for a topic. He suggested time, but a very different perspective from what Mantra decided was the message for Hurry. She was still hearing the echos of the question How do you do so much?
But you are waiting for an example. Hurry was complete, shy only the once over for typos before I scheduled it to publish. A whole three minute exercise. Did I do it? No.
Instead, I closed the laptop and got in the bathtub. Why? Taking an hour for myself was more important for my own well-being than publishing another post. During that hour, I did not think about obligations or deadlines. I did enjoy the warmth of the water, the silken bubbles and the relaxing effect of being clean.
When I did come back to the laptop, it did not take three minutes, but one. I came to the task with a clear and creative mind. In rereading it, I found nuances I had missed in the original reading and in the typing. Some things which may even find their way to M3 soon.
So, here we are at the conclusion of another Saturday Evening Post. I hope you have taken away a few ideas to help you get a better perspective and prioritize in a way to make your time both more productive and more fulfilling.
Until next time,
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(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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