Ask people what they want more of and you’re likely to get one of two answers: time or money. These two resources, often inextricably linked, are among what we value most in life. Time, in particular, always seems in short supply.
- “I’d love to join my friends on that weekend getaway, but I haven’t got enough time.”
- “I sure wish I’d had the time to keep up with guitar lessons. “
- “I want to start exercising regularly…but I don’t have space in my schedule.”
- “Taking that night class would expedite my promotion, but there aren’t enough hours in the day.”
True enough, time is finite. From the minute our feet hit the floor in the morning, it seems we’re in a desperate race with the clock hands. We eat in our cars during the morning commute to save time. We order groceries online to avoid inefficient lines. We make a week’s worth of lunchboxes on Sunday afternoon to expedite our mornings. There is no shortage of hacks, tweaks, and tricks to squeeze “more” into less time.
Last week I wrote about buffer: too often I try to cram too many things into too narrow a timeframe which leaves me feeling rushed and anxious.
But what about when I do have a buffer.
In reality, there are many days when my timeline is flexible. What about when, with the help of time management strategies, or by simply eliminating unnecessary tasks, I’ve managed to carve out that elusive white space? This flex-time is only an asset – and worth the time expenditure to secure it – if I end up using it.
Perhaps it’s because I’m so used to that undercurrent of time-related anxiety that I end up checking the clock (and trying to maximize every second), even when there’s no need.
It seems I’d do well to ask: Is there a reason I’m rushing?
And, if not: Can I give myself the gift of time?
Summer marks the start of sandal season which means one thing: nail polish. Last year’s options were looking pretty stale, and I was on the hunt for a perfect (well, good enough) pale pink. Crouched in the pharmacy aisle I was overwhelmed by options, oddly reminiscent of my experience in the toothpaste aisle. With dozens of pinks to choose from, many of them pale, I could feel the anxiety building. I could also sense myself heeding the chiding voice of my inner clock: “You’re spending too much time on this, Elisabeth.” Eventually, I walked away feeling I’d wasted more than enough time debating the merits of Rose Petal vs Pink Cloud (did I want peach undertones or white?).
But I had nowhere I needed to go. I had more than enough time, so I circled back around the aisle and looked at more options. While I didn’t end up buying anything,* it ended up being a fun – unrushed – 15 minutes.
Maybe you can read that second bedtime story after all. Perhaps there is enough time to linger in that phone conversation with your Grandma. Or, just maybe, you’ll spend your extra time considering every hue of pink nail polish in the pharmacy display. If you can – and do – you’ve just given yourself the gift of time.
*I went back the next day and came home with Pink Pursuit; one family member, who shall remain nameless, take one look and told me it looked like I painted my nails with WhiteOut. Hmmm. A bit too pale, perhaps?