Friday, August 9, 2013

Is there enough time?

Let me tell you a story about a trampoline.

We bought a trampoline for Noah's birthday last month. It did not come in time because I didn't order it until too late. Once it was here, Kel and I started upon the task of putting it together. There was one particularly tedious step where I had to "sew" the safety enclosure to the trampoline part with what is basically a very long shoe string. As I was doing it, something seemed not quite right, so I took another look at the (very bad) directions and decided that I was doing it like it said. It took me about an hour to get the whole thing done and right as I was completing the last loop Kel came out and looked at it. He said, "I hate to tell you this, but this is wrong. You are going to have to do the whole thing again." I looked at it and realized he was right and pretty much felt like I was going to cry. Once again, something not only takes me longer than I think, but twice as long as it should. Not only did I have to do it all again, but I would have to "unsew" the work that I had done.

My thoughts went something like this:

  • "Why me?"
  • "This always happens."
  • "Why does everything have to take so long?"
  • "This is SO NOT what I want to be spending what little time I have on!"
Then, as I started to undo all the work that I had just spent so many of my valuable moments on, I had a moment of clarity in my thinking about time. What would happen if I started living in a way that I felt I had an abundance of time - all the time I needed, in fact? What can I do or think or say differently to feel the release of time rather than the constraints of time? These thoughts led me down a path of reflection and research over the next few weeks that have been very revealing to me.

What is time?
  • currency, money
  • something to give
  • a tool
  • a luxury - although I have since realized I don't want to think of time in this way
  • a necessity
  • a burden or a limiter - again, I don't think it has to be 

What do I want for myself in the area of time/
  • I want to feel less hurried all the time.
  • I want things to feel more relaxed and less urgent.
  • I want to be on time without having to freak out.
  • I want to trust my wn instincts when it comes to time.
  • I want to use time wisely, but not miserly.
  • I want to have moments where I flow free of time.
  • I want to keep my brain from calculating time all the time.
  • I want to be able to see time in a positive way - as a gift rather than a curse.
As I plunged into these questions and thoughts about time I began to identify some of my core problems. I tend to get stuff I need to do done, but I don't spend very much time on stuff I want to get done. Things take me longer because I am not very efficient - productivity is definitely an issue for me. And the most revealing issue I realized is that I don't always know what I want to get done!  How the heck am I supposed to be productive and feel creative if I don't even know what I want to get done?

I also put on my thinking cap and read a few books and a lot of stuff online about different systems of efficiency and productivity. There were a couple that really stood out to me, particularly, The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris and Getting Things Done by David Allen. Here are a few of the gems I got out of these books:
  • Less is not laziness. Focus on being productive instead of busy. (Ferris)
  • Lack of time is actually lack of priorities. (Ferris)
  • If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day? (Ferris)
  • What you do with your time, what you do with your information, and what you do with your body and your focus relative to your priorities--those are the real option to which you must allocate your limited resources. The real issue is how to make appropriate choices about what to do at any point in time. The real issue is how we manage actions. (Allen)
Allen also talks a lot about having a system to get things out of your head so you are not constantly trying to remember everything. This really hit home with me. I feel like I have a stream of anxiety that I am forgetting something almost all the time. That cannot be healthy!

So since productivity is about doing, what have I done? Well, using the Getting Things Done method along with Evernote and a wonderful tutorial called The Secret Weapon, I have developed a system of processing and doing all the stuff that is in my head, and, man, oh man, is that a lot of stuff. It's early days still, but I am really liking the space in my head that getting everything out of it has created. 

The other thing I am doing is having a daily intention of Creative Flow. I am giving myself the freedom to flow around the things I must get done. I am making a conscious effort to enjoy my kids and let go of stress with deep breathing and meditation. And I am living in the belief that I have more than enough time to do everything that really needs to get done. If it doesn't get done, than it didn't need to get done!

I did finish the sewing the trampoline together and while I did it I let it become a meditation of its own. In and out and up and down. Breathing, being in the moment, feeling the sun on my skin and the warm breeze through my hair, stopping to take a sip of coffee and stretch my arms and smile at the thought of seeing my kids flying high through the air once it was finished. Yes. There is exactly enough time to do the things that need to get done.

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
~John Wooden


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