Friday, June 20, 2014
Time: There Really Is Enough of It
A few months ago I made a decision to temporarily harness time to write about things other than harnessing time. But a few days ago I had such a wonderful harnessing time moment – a moment when I went from feeling hurried, crabby, cramped for time, to feeling calm, spacious, and peaceful, with just a simple little application of my own harnessing time principles – that I knew I had to write about it.
I was standing in my kitchen, dithering, worrying about how I was going to get everything I needed to do done. I felt rushed, which is a feeling I hate and which I basically created harnessing time to avoid. I had to eat breakfast, take my little dog to doggie day care, meditate for ten minutes, and do a little yoga, and I didn’t think I was going to have enough time to do all of that before my first coaching date. (I make my living as a writing coach, mostly coaching on the phone in hour and a half increments.)
I had already written out my harnessing time plan for the day, which was how I knew what I wanted to do during this particular time slot. But then, standing in my kitchen, I started getting the feeling that I wouldn’t be able to do what I needed to do and about what would happen if I didn’t – if I don’t do the yoga my back will start hurting and then I’ll have a back spasm and then I won’t be able to work, et cetera – and then I started trying to do things fast, faster than I could, and practically shaking with the effort (wasted effort, of course, because that’s what you get when you’re trying to do things faster than you can). Then my cat started meowing at me in a loud, irritating, food-demanding voice and I actually had the urge, which I suppressed, of course -- I would never, ever do something like that -- to smack her on the head.
This is the moment, I realized, when you might yell at your kid if you had one or start a fight with your husband or do some other minor interpersonal or self-inflicted damage. And it was at this moment, motivated by that thought and the realization that I was hurrying and it was unpleasant, that I remembered one of my basic harnessing time rules:
If you feel like you don’t have enough time to get everything you need to do done, stop and figure out whether you actually do have enough time. (You’ll probably have to look at a clock and see what time it is; think about when your next appointment or whatever is; and think about how long, realistically, each thing you have to do, between now and then, is going to take. Then you’ll have to decide if everything you have to do will realistically fit into the window you have to do it.) If you do have enough time, relax. If you don’t, figure out where to move something you think you need to do now, to some later time in the day or week. Or decide to skip it all together.
It takes a little time to stop and think all that through, maybe twenty or thirty seconds, and it might be tempting to think you don’t have time to take the time to do it. But believe me, you do, and it’s worth it.
I had an hour and a half yesterday to fit in everything in my morning routine: the trip to doggie day care, the yoga, the meditation, the breakfast. When I thought about it, I decided that I didn’t have enough time for everything and that I needed to make a harnessing time decision about what could be let go of or postponed. I did a quick mental scan of all my options. I couldn’t put off taking the puppy to day care and I probably shouldn’t put off eating breakfast. Finally I decided that nothing would happen to my back if I postponed the yoga for a few hours, whereas something would definitely happen to my mood – it had actually started happening already, when I felt rushed in my kitchen -- if I postponed the meditation. (Interestingly enough, since I started doing ten minutes of meditation a day a few years ago, meditating has steadily moved up my list of priorities – I’ve come to see it as even more important than eating breakfast. The same thing has happened with planning my day a la harnessing time – I hate how I feel on days when I somehow end up skipping it and I’ve come to enjoy it, rely on it, look forward to it as one of my favorite parts of the day.)
I got my plan back out and moved the yoga to follow my hour-and-a-half-long coaching date, when I had plenty of time to do it. Then I collected my little dog Alice, put her on the leash, and drove her over to the doggy day care place. In the car I felt my mood getting better by the minute, and it came to me in a happy rush that in the few years since I’ve been harnessing time, time really has come to feel like something I can use, like a tool or a magic wand, to do whatever I need to. That I don’t have to feel hurried or harried, I don’t have to exist in a time-poverty-stricken condition, any more. Because there really is time enough for everything.
-- Mary Allen