Time and I have never been great friends. Not surprising coming from a champion procrastinator, still, I haven’t had as much patience for time as I’d like. It’s not that I expect to love the way time operates, but it’s just that time has always struck me as being a little skittish. You’re in the middle of doing something important and suddenly time is gone, like you hadn’t been working together to accomplish something. Then there are those moments when you’d like time to get going and instead of hopping to it, time just lingers and lingers, hanging around like a bad smell. All in all, I find time just a bit too temperamental for my taste.
My lack of simpatico with time has meant that I’ve had to come to an agreement about certain things just so I can avoid time conflicts. For instance, when I travel, I get time on a leash. I watch every second as if it were my last and plan for all eventualities, because if you’re not careful, when you need it most, time will get away from you. One moment you’re flying and the next, you’re stuck at the airport and time has hopped the last plane without you. I also don’t play around with time when I have critical deadlines or meetings. I build in lots of time so that if some slips away, I sill have plenty left to reach my goals.
Then of course there are vacations, gardening, painting and other activities where no matter how much I try to manage things; I just can’t get time to do my bidding. It slips away, it eases out or it just disappears before I know it. Time is tricky. Although I’ve always had this uneasy relationship with time, my husband is just the opposite. Time has always been his friend. In fact, if we have a point of contention, it’s about time. He always seems to have an abundance of it and I’m always looking for more. That is, that’s always been the case until he decided to start a blog.
Now you have to understand, my husband has always been a master of time. He’s the kind of guy that makes breakfast and when he serves it, everything is at the right temperature. The toast is hot and the butter is melted, the eggs are perfect and the coffee is hot. This is impressive when you consider all of these things are always getting messed up by time. The same precision holds true when he’s working on an annual report, a book or an installation, everything is well timed. Yet when he started his blog, something changed, some quirk of fate means that time, his old ally, is now time the trickster. This new Loki like character moves him back and forth through different time periods with abandon.
“Why does it keep going back to the old layout?!!!” or “I’ve been working on this for hours!!!” are things he would yell in frustration, as the blog layout would seemingly go from perfect back to an earlier and wrong version.
You can appreciate the cruelty of time in doing this to a man that has taught, judged, managed and writes about layout and design for a living. Periodically I’d step in with comments like, “Did you update it after you changed it?” but I soon learned to keep my counsel to myself.
Now you might be assuming this isn’t so much a challenge with time as it is a fight with technology, but the problem with time and his blog doesn’t end there. No, it goes much deeper. It’s the idea in the middle of the night that wakes him out of a sleep, yet is forgotten in the morning. The post idea that comes in the midst of a conversation when he can’t stop and write it down or the concept he gets during a drive when he can’t take notes. Ideas that become utterly elusive when he has his laptop, pen and paper handy. Timing is everything.
As I watch this drama unfold it makes me think about the fickleness of time and wonder what prompts these exacerbating moments. When I looked into it, I discovered that the blog really is the cause of all his troubles. Now before my fellow bloggers get up in arms, I don’t think blogging is evil, just new. As it turns out, being new was all that was required to change his perception of time. When we are learning something new and our mind is being filled with lots of new data, time feels as if it is slowing. The more data, the slower time seems to move. Having started a new job a few months ago I can relate. I feel like everything takes forever and that I simultaneously don’t have time for anything, in or out of work.
Rather than be completely defeated by time I thought it would be better to go back to basics and implement some of my own tricks for managing time like, scheduling time for the things I care about. It’s critical not just to schedule the time to focus, but the time to be distracted. Years ago an old boss told me that I should schedule half my time for the things I needed to accomplish and half my time for the things that would get in the way. Most importantly for me is scheduling time to think. If I can only do one time management trick, then that’s the one. In order to plan, perform and produce, I need to think. No matter what you are working on, it will go faster and smoother if you think about it first, even if time doesn’t seem to be your friend.
What do you think? Are you friends with time? How do you manage time when it decides to manage you?
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net