Making Time

Today’s Lesson: You have to make time to make time.

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I feel so busy these days that I barely have an hour to myself. Nicole and I both work long hours. Each day when we get home, it is a mad scramble to clean up, make dinner, prepare for the next day, get ready for bed, and if we are lucky and do not miss a beat… we might be able to share 30-40 minutes of downtime together.

We do not own a TV. We do not have many social commitments (or even many friends). We don’t play sports or go to the gym for an hour. We don’t have kids or family nearby to take up our time. We just work, come home, and get ready for the next day.

There are, of course, other things we would also like to do and sometimes we can cram one or two of them into the weekend, between chores (like spending time outside, reading, writing more, catching a movie, playing with Rainee, exercising, learning new stuff, etc.).

I know we are not alone in this battle but I am often confounded by how bad I am at making time for everything. Sometimes I watch other successful people (famous but sometimes just my peers) accomplish more than I seem to, while also balancing children, second jobs, big social circles, and more. I do not know what specific compromises they make (sleep, sex, cooking, or eating healthy, maybe?) but I marvel at their leisure time.

I see two main struggles for myself.

The first is, I am, I think, incredibly efficient but also a perfectionist. It is important to me that everything that is done… is done well. For example, my laundry is not haphazardly folded. I know how I like things placed in the closet. I do not have a “junk” drawer in the house. I run my schedule like a military operation each day. I can tell you almost exactly where my feet will be placed at any given time of the day.

My second struggle with making more time is something I only recently realized. My schedule is packed until I force something new into it. For example, I used to work roughly the same hours with the same drive time I have now, but I was also taking martial arts classes three or four times a week while doing it.

I have no idea how I would fit six to ten hours of classes in my schedule now and I had no idea how I would do it then. I just did it, and I showered twice a day on top of it.

I have been experimenting with waking up later yet forcing more actions into my morning routine and still arriving to work on time. So far, so good. I have surprised myself.

The lesson in this is, whatever time you have is what you fill your day with (meaning your habits expand to fill the allotted time you give them). Further, you make time for what you make time for (meaning, if you absolutely have to fit something in–say, if you had the chance to attend a lecture from your favorite famous business leader three times per week–then your schedule will “magically” open to work around it).

I imagine Steve Miller Band fanatics and people with children (sometimes called “parents”) must know this already. For me, it is a lesson I am just figuring out.

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future…”

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What Would You Do With An Extra Day?

Today’s Lesson: What makes you think, if you had more time, you would use it any differently?

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Having an extra day off over Memorial Day weekend was nice, but when the weekend was over, I still found myself thinking I could use another day off to catch up!

I do not know if it is a sign of being over-stressed, over-worked, or of people having bad time management skills but it seems no matter how much time “off” we have, we could always use more. Maybe it is because we really do not have “off” time. We cram it with chores, tasks, and events we know we would not otherwise be able to do or we are so exhausted we waste the time doing nothing of value.

I am beginning to think the problem is not with the amount of time we have to ourselves. The problem is what we do with it and why. If we worked two days each week and had five days off, I bet we would still complain about not having enough time to do everything.

We think life would be different if we had unlimited time but in a sense, we already have unlimited time. Since we never know when or how we might die, we live as if we will live forever. Maybe we should choose an arbitrary future date when we want to have the five most important things in our lives accomplished. Whether we make it to that day is not the point. Living as if we know we only have until that day might change everything.

 

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It’s Not That Important

Today’s Lesson: It’s only important when it is important.

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For at least three weeks, “Wash Car” has been on my Action Items list. We have a free car wash in our apartment complex complete with spray hose, vacuum, scrubbing board, and anything else we might need to make our cars shiny. The car wash port is so close I can see it from my window and walk to it in less than a minute. Still, my car remains unwashed.

I know I will get to washing my car eventually but I am not stressing about when. I do not like to see it with dirt spots on it but I have made other things more important instead. For example, going to the beach, making dinner, personal grooming, or even just watching a show on Netflix. The fact is, washing the car is not that important yet. When it really drives me crazy, or when I do not have other things I would rather do instead, then it will jump in priority. Until then, I’ll just wait for rain.

When something is really important, we make time for it. When something is just sort-of important, we wait until we have nothing better to do instead. As usual, the key is in knowing which is which, and when.

 

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Moving at the Speed of Life

Don’t be late. Life won’t wait for you to show up.

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With the Tampa move coming, I feel Time accelerating. There are so many little things I have to wrap up. I have learned from moving so many times, there are some things you just do not want to forget, such as getting your dental records, looking far out into your calendar to cancel any appointments, and trying to think of the myriad places that need to update your address (such as blog-hosting service!).

Of course, there are friends and family who hope to say good-bye and they can fill a schedule quickly if you are not careful about coordinating with other events. If you are driving, of course, you want to change the car’s oil and have it checked out. Pricing and scheduling moving and storage can be a chore by itself. The little things add up quickly and suddenly 3 weeks to prepare feels like 3 days.

So many things to do, so little time. That is when life is most challenging and most enjoyable. Trying to do many things in a frighteningly short amount of time is at the heart of an adventure.

 

Today’s Lesson: You know this one. It is, of course, a long way of saying, “Time flies when you are having fun!”

 

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Struggling With Math

“This is so nice,” she said, “Just having your undivided attention.”

My phone was put away, my chat apps were muted, and my email notifications were turned off. I was on vacation and although the day was interrupted by work several times, I promised to spend the night relaxing with Nicole.

I try to be fully present and free from distraction with people I cherish, but my friends and I tend to be extraordinarily busy workaholics and we have our hands in many activities–I love that our lives are packed with adventure and productivity and scheduling time to just “hang out” can be a challenge. It tells me we are playing big in Life, working to make things happen, I only know a few people who have time to own and watch a television or just meet up at random. That also means, though, we divide our time, multitasking and working on various projects (including our actual jobs).

Sometimes, though, it is good to unplug and dial everything back until there is only one person or action to concentrate on in a given moment. Having someone’s undivided attention (no distractions–not dividing your attention between work and the person in front of you, or between what is on the radio and your dinner, or between driving and engaging in a meaningful conversation, etc.)–this can be a commodity for the people we love and the supply may not always reach the demand but if we recognize the value of that time to others, maybe we can do a little better at managing it.

Today’s lesson is: if you struggle with math in life, try doing less division.

 

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