Time

TimeI’m not entirely sure how this has happened, but I only have just over five weeks to go until I leave work. When I handed in my notice in early January, it seemed like there was a comfortingly long stretch of time until my actual leaving date, but now the daffodils are suddenly out and it’s nearly time to start my new temporary life as someone deliberately in between jobs. The comfortably long stretch of time has suddenly snapped back and hit me in the face like an elastic band.

A lot of clichés exist about the perceived duration or speed of time. And whilst I do know that the speed at which time passes is generally constant (some of you will probably go all Einstein on my ass and interject that a clock hurled through space ticks more slowly than a stationary one, or something like that, but my brain has never been very suited to theoretical physics so cut me some slack for this non-scientifically nuanced statement, ok?), time does indeed seem to go by very quickly at the moment. Which is partly exciting (I can start wrapping things up at work) and partly scary (if my 183 days go by just as fast, I’ll just have time to make a cup of tea and complete a Buzzfeed quiz about what character from Family Guy I am before I have to start work in a call centre to pay the rent).

I worry mostly that somehow I am not making the most of time: at the moment, I feel I am not spending enough time constructively looking for contacts and opportunities and spending too much time re-watching all of The Wire and squinting at my iPhone to read about the seventeen teeth cleaning mistakes I’m probably making according to the Huffington Post. One of my most annoying character traits is that I constantly feel guilty about not doing enough – if I’m tired after a long week or a night out and have a long lie-in, the rest of my day can easily be ruined by self-persecution about having ‘wasted’ half the day by sleeping. Which is quite spectacularly counter-productive, of course. EITHER get up early OR sleep late, be unapologetic about it and get on with the rest of the day.

One of the most important skills I will have to force myself to learn whilst I am not working is not to waste time by feeling guilty over not making the most of it. If I have a day, or two, or three, without anything concrete planned, I should enjoy the freedom of going for a walk in the park on a Monday morning, or seeing a film on a Wednesday afternoon, or mooching around the house in my pyjamas all day watching old episodes of Flight of the Conchords and eating too many peanut M&Ms. I have to remember that those 183 days are mine: I am buying them with my own money and can use them however I wish. Of course I would have good reason not to feel hugely pleased with myself if I spent the entire 183 days in my pyjamas, but I know I am not the kind of person to let that happen. I just have to learn that ‘making the most of time’ doesn’t necessarily mean cramming a million things into each day and collapsing into bed in an exhausted heap. Sometimes, making the most of time is just enjoying whatever it is you choose to do with it.

Do you ever feel guilty about not making the most of your time? And how do you deal with it? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

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15 thoughts on “Time

  1. ok, I feel that I have to comment on that one! Yes, time is a really weird concept. My weekends (when I am not working) fly by. Literally. Before I know it, it’s Sunday late afternoon, and where did the time go? no bloody idea. I sometimes swear that Saturday never actually happened, or I might just have blinked for a little bit too long… (I hope I make some kind of sense here). Rather unsurprisingly the week seems to ddrrrraaggggg on sometimes, especially if work is really hectic. And yes, I still do like my job!
    Now, I also have learnt not to beat myself up for not doing “enough”. Enjoy myself at weekends when I could be (should be) writing a new post on my blog? or networking? or stripping wallpaper? or learn how to knit? or weed the garden? the list is endless. But you know what, guilt is such a horrible thing. It’s counterproductive as you say, and I seriously don’t know where it comes from sometimes.
    The best thing, I find, is to write myself a small list of goals to achieve for the day and for the week. I tick them off as I go along (hugely satisfying) and all the little things that never get done and always end up at the back of the queue, I pick a day to make them a priority. Now, more importantly, write a little list of all the good things you also want to do (yes, a lie in can be one of them) and never forget to make time to enjoy yourself. I find that when you don’t have an imposed life structure (such as having to go to work etc), time at work and time off seems to be one big blur.
    So as I mentioned before, make a small list everyday, get it done, and then enjoy the rest of the day!
    Easier said than done I know….
    Sorry for the really long monologue Anne, but your post really has touched a nerve…:-)
    Ah, one more piece of advice, ONE thing at the time! concentrate on one task, get it done, then on to the next.
    I’m sure you will rock these 183 days Anne, don’t worry. You are already doing a great job!
    I look forward to hear how you get on.xx

    • Thanks so much for your thoughts Cecile. My weekends go by just as fast as yours, and also I keep hearing references on the radio to things that happened a year ago and I think ‘what?! was that a YEAR ago?!’ Scary stuff!! I’m going to get much more in the habit of making a range of to do lists, marked ‘work’, ‘personal’ and ‘fun’. Don’t want to get too regimented about all of this, but I do love the satisfaction of crossing something off my list. I also really like your suggestion of setting a day aside to deal with those annoying little tasks that keep languishing at the bottom of your list, forever uncompleted. And you are SO right about doing one thing at a time. I am really really terrible for starting one thing and abandoning it halfway through because an email pops up or I suddenly think of something else. Sometimes I write an entire email to someone, wonder why they haven’t responded, and then realise I never pressed the Send button because I got distracted somehow. So unproductive! Thanks for all your sound advice – if we both follow it, maybe we can learn to knit together one day, after we’ve weeded your garden of course 🙂 xx

      • Oh to do lists! They are the bane of my existence. 1) I am entirely unrealistic about what I can achieve in a day, so I always feel defeated when I haven’t completed my 10 step plan for getting the house clean, translating a film script, updating all the invoices for the choir, keeping my children entertained without switching on the TV once, planning all the weeks’ lessons, cooking a wholesome dinner and writing a YA novel in one day. The Husband’s advice which I recommend, it really helps me, was to plan *when* you’re going to do each thing. I now have slots in my diary for AM, PM and evening (after the kids are in bed) and that really helps me see whether the goal I am setting myself is unrealistic. Also, I have separated my diary into different categories (teaching, translating, writing etc) and when I plan to do one thing for each in the morning, I know I am kidding myself. 2) I am also unable to finish one task. If I’m feeling productive I flit from task to task and at the end of it there is no visible result for a very busy morning. So your friend is right and do one thing at a time, complete it, and then move on. 3) If you have something serious to do, switch off the internet at the router. Seriously. I am currently meant to be finishing a job for tomorrow. But see – I am on the internet again. GRARGH!

      • Yep, I know what you’re talking about Judith. I always write really long lists, only to get frustrated at not being able to cross anything off them. And I am massively guilty at flitting between tasks, an annoying and unproductive habit! It sounds like you have some useful techniques there which I will certainly try out… And yes, BAN THE INTERNET!! (Well, occasionally at least.) I dread to think how many hours I waste online. Thanks for the advice 🙂

  2. time is the measure by which all things can be valued. it is the only real commodity we have in this life and strangely it is also quite an abstract concept…
    time is based on the things we notice and therefore our perception but our perception isn’t just the things we remember but the way we feel about the here and now and how one relates to the world around us (and not the world we were in this morning)
    change is inevitable through time and how we deal with that is what makes us who we are.
    with this grounding you can truly say are making the most of your time no matter what you do within it…

      • I’m afraid I might have gotten a little bit heavy there… such is the consequence of sobriety… If you ever need any positive thoughts let me know, I think you are wonderful and so do many others! X

  3. Great post, Anne! Love the line about enjoying whatever it is you choose to do with your time. Being present and living in the moment is so important. I do feel guilty if I think I’m not doing enough to get more writing work, but I’m learning not to beat myself up over it. Some days will be more productive than others; it all balances out in the end. Taking time out to do things just for fun is essential for your sanity and wellbeing, especially during a time when major changes are happening in your life 🙂

    • Thank you Charmaine – I am really glad I am not the only one who worries about this. Preserving our sanity and wellbeing has to be pretty important as without it we won’t really achieve anything at all! 🙂

  4. If you’re going to make a list then just have one or two things on it that you really need to do. The rest can wait till tomorrow 🙂 And if you do more things then it is a bonus!

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