Precious Time

We all know that time is precious because it's finite.

But most of us have an uneasy relationship with time.  We feel like it's rushing past us, like we don't have enough of it.  We constantly complain that we're too busy, and we feel stressed about time.

Some of that is our own fault.  We may have one or both of these bad habits:

  • We fear missing out on an important opportunity, or a valuable experience, so we say yes to every request for our time.  We jam-pack our schedules, and our children's schedules.  We let being hyper-busy measure our self-worth, instead of focusing on giving our best talents and energy to a few activities we deem essential.  We forget that when everything is labeled "important," nothing is.
  • Often, because our use of time is so unfocused and so driven by FOMO and our need to feel important and worthwhile, we get fatigued and lose motivation.  Then we allow ourselves to wallow in time, to waste it with frivolous activities like shopping, overuse of social media, or TV/video binge-watching.  We wind up throwing away a bunch of time in which we accomplish nothing meaningful, not even true rest or recreation.  We skip sleep when we binge on these time-wasters, and we're not recharging our energy by moving our bodies, being creative, enjoying nature, or having meaningful interactions with another person.

The truth of the matter is that we have plenty of time in which to do amazing things.

You've heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, right?  He died at age 35.  Amelia Earhart and Martin Luther King, Jr. each lived to be 39.  Anne Frank died when she was only 16.  Blogger Leo Babauta has rightly said, "It's not about how much time we have, but how we use it, how we experience it."

5 Ways to Improve Our Experience of Time

1.  Appreciate it.
Every day that we have is a gift.  Instead of complaining about how little time we have, we could shift our attitude toward appreciation for the time we have.  Could this shift change how you feel every day?

2.  Use it intentionally.
If every day is a gift, should we waste it?  Or should we use it with intention?

We have time, but we need to prioritize it, because it's not infinite.  We need to use our time according to what's important to us.  That can include earning money, taking care of loved ones, taking care of ourselves, or something else that's meaningful.

The way we spend our time makes our real priorities clear.  Are you satisfied with the way you spend your time?  Do mindless, time-wasting habits deserve to be part of your days?

3.  Create space.
We may feel that we want to prioritize something, but lament our lack of time.  We need to make the time.  If we can't, maybe we need to admit that the item isn't really a priority after all.  If it is a clear priority, create space to care for it.

4.  Don't get too familiar.
We all have the feeling that time is passing faster and faster.  Maybe this is because we stop noticing things when they get too familiar.  It's like driving home from work, and not really seeing what you pass along the way.  It's all so familiar that you can operate on auto-pilot.

That's how we experience most of our time -- on auto-pilot.  Yet at this moment, as we are all thrust into the unfamiliar situation of social distancing brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to reframe our relationship with time and with our typical too-busy-to-notice way of life.

It's possible to pay more attention, to try to experience things as if we haven't done it all before.  Attention is the secret that keeps days from blurring into one another. 

5.  Imagine you have only one year.
If you imagined you were going to die soon, your priorities might shift, and you would definitely use the time remaining to you more carefully.  I'll bet needless shopping, mindless scrolling, and Netflix binges would drop out of your schedule.  I imagine you'd choose your activities for their value to you and their positive impact on others.  You'd greet each morning with energy and intention.

You have this opportunity right now.  Decide to take advantage of it.


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