Thursday, February 10, 2011

Time is on my side

It's  been a week since my last post and when I realized this, the only thought that came through my head was: "WTF?" A week has gone by and really, I have no idea where the time went. It's as if some unknown alien device had decided to lock into my brain and suck every single bit of memory from last week out of it. Oh no! Wait a minute, I remember....there was driving everywhere, there was gathering with friends, there was time spent doing the day-to-day managing of house and children (although with repeating the same chores/motions everyday, it's no wonder our brain stops noticing), and yes, best of all, there was the all-nighter holding a bowl for my daughter as she proceeded to empty the contents of her stomach every hour on the hour from 11 p.m. until 10 a.m. Really, it was a week like any other, where I just chase the clock and try to do all the things that need to be done and that I want to do cramed in a 14 hour timeframe from awake to asleep. 14 hours isn't that much to get shit done. Really. And so, I often am screaming in my head for someone, something, some way to please have the gift of one more hour in my day (thought two would be even better).

See that crazy rabbit? That's me chasing time every day!
All this chasing of time has left me physicall and emotionally TIRED! My "Me" has had enough. This isn't working for "Me" anymore, and so when I stumbled upon 168 hours by Laura Vanderkam, I was eager to see how I could use my time in less harried ways.

See, the funny thing about time is that it is influenced by our perception. When we are bored to tears, minutes last a lifetime. When we are deeply involved in something we love, time seems to fly by and last only seconds. When we're looking forward to something happening, time seems to drag on and take forever. Yet when we are dreading something uncomfortable, time plays tricks and we're soon facing the unwanted. But, the reality is that time is a constant. Minutes last 60 seconds. Hours last 60 minutes. Days last 24 hours. Time does not waver and time does not discriminate. We are all given the same gift of time, every single day. This is Vanderkam's predominant point and her premise for writing 168 hours.  She begins her book by talking about Theresa Daytner, a woman who makes it a point to go out on an hour long hike on a particular morning because it is sunny out, and it would be a shame to not go out an enjoy the day. Vanderkam goes on a bit more about Daytner who seems to have an easy, well-managed daily life which might lead us to think that she's lucky and has more time to play with than others. But here's the thing, Theresa Daytner is the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation and a very involved mother to 6 children, and she volunteers her time as well. When Daytner attended a White House luncheon, upon hearing her story, President Obama looked at her stunned and asked her "Do you ever sleep?" We are all amazed at people who seem to have the ability to accomplish so much and we hold them on pedestals with justifications of our own inability to make time our friend rather than our enemy. Vanderkam spends a lot of time talking about the myth of the time crunch, which happens to be the number one concern of most people today. Yet all of us have the same 168 hours per week to choose to do whatever we want to do with. Not enough time to exercise? If you decide to work out 5 hours a week, you'll still have 163 hours to do other things with. I won't bore you with all the calculations, but recommend that you check the book out if you're interested. It is mind-opening.

What really struck with me about this book, is this: I have more time than I think. When I first came to that realization, I refused it. No way! I don't have enough time! Then I started to think about my days and how I spend my time, and you know what? Turns out I really do have lots of time, I just sometimes chose to spend it on the wrong things. If I hadn't surfed the net for 30 minutes, I would have been able to do this other thing I keep saying I want to do, but never do because I don't have enough time. Kind of silly when you think about it right?

When asked by Vanderkan what she thought was different about her that made her so successful at working with time, Theresa Daytner said: "Here's what I think is the difference. I know I'm in charge of me. Everything that I do, every minute that I spend is my choice." When I read this statement, I was in awe and I felt a shift in my way of dealing with time. I have for the longest time, let time control me. All my actions, my choices, my dreams, my way of living was controlled with my perception that time was this Sword of Damocles dictating my life. Daytner's statement says the opposite: I am in control of my time. I choose when or how I spend my time. This way of seeing my relationship with time has been liberating and  empowering, to the point that I copied Daytner's statement and have posted it so I can be reminded everyday of my power to choose how I live my life and how I spend my time. And though I have not yet fully applied this concept of time to my life (last week was actually ironic considering this new found revelation) here's the difference in my life so far: I now ask myself if what I am doing is a good use of my precious time, if the activity I choose to spend my time on makes me happy, fulfills me, helps me grow, or not. If it doesn't, then it will go by the way side.

My "Me" is feeling reenergized by this new perception of time, and I am feeling strong and empowered. If you are interested in seeing how the 168 hours can work for you, you can go on Vanderkam's website and download a time sheet to help you track how you spend your time and help you make choices that will nurture your "Me" rather than deplete it. Today, I chose to write this blog and share this with you, and the 40 minutes I chose to spend writing it, were incredibly worth it.

What will you do for your Me today?


  1. I definitely feel that I waste time in my day and that I could be more productive. But sometimes I just don't have the energy it takes to do what I need to do, or what I need to do doesn't enthrall me so it is easier to do something else. For me a lack of energy and the capacity to focus is at the heart of my feelings of unravelling. Sometimes I just don't have what it takes.

    I do love the idea of telling myself that I am in charge of my day and how it goes, I think I might put that on my fridge! Thanks for yet more great ideas and inspiration! This is my go to blog for good ideas!

  2. I love this blog! This is definitely what I need to be reading right now...thank you for sharing! :o)

  3. Hi Deedee, Welcome to the blog and thanks for the feedback. I'll be posting again soon :)