I’ve been thinking a lot about time management. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the past two months planning a destination wedding. Maybe it’s because every weekend from June through September, I hopped a plane in a flight pattern that zigzagged from Oregon to Maine to California to North Carolina. Maybe it’s because I’ve got a major work deadline coming up.
I don’t struggle with insomnia, but these days when I hit the sack, I have to make a concerted effort to stop the traffic noise inside my head. My mind has been in 100 places at once for quite some time now, and that feeling is beginning to grate on my nerves. (Last night, I even plundered the makeshift bar in the corner of the 5280 offices to mix myself a drink. Don't worry, it was well past 5 p.m.)
I loathe the feeling of not giving my all to something, which means I’ve been hesitant to start new projects because I already have so much on my plate. And I hate the fact that I’ve started to fall back on the “I don’t have time” excuse when contemplating things I really love to do—or that I really need to do. For the first time ever, I dropped out of a race I’d planned to run at the end of October—the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.—after registering months ago, paying the fee, and training for a solid six weeks. I just couldn’t get the long runs in, so I stopped running altogether. I am presently living out of a suitcase—in my own home—because I haven’t found 30 minutes to unpack from, er, this summer. I have piles of thank-you notes to write for wedding and shower gifts that arrived two months ago. I just haven’t had time.
Now, see, there’s that phrase again: I don’t have time.
The truth is, that phrase is a giant cop-out—and one that I’m tired of using. Just check out this Wall Street Journal article, "Are You As Busy As You Think?," which made the rounds on Facebook and Twitter not long ago. The conclusion: Time is a choice, and I can choose to spend it differently to accomplish tasks in both my personal and professional life. It’s not that I don’t have time, it’s that I don't always make the best choices when prioritizing the time I do have. That is an important distinction. I have been multitasking for a couple of months, but have probably been lying to myself about where my time is actually going. Were I to add up all the hours in my day, I bet I’d be surprised at how my time is actually allocated. Plus, that excuse doesn't cut it when you’re surrounded by friends, colleagues, and family members who are just as—or even more—slammed than you are. When did we all get so damn busy? When did we start trying to do so much simultaneously that we forgot how to accomplish one task at a time?
I, for one, am on a mission to get my focus back, to get one big thing checked off the list, to not worry about tomorrow or next week, and to let myself enjoy something here and now—without thinking about eight other things that need to be done this week. I will not let multitasking run me down, I will not be intimidated by to-do lists or sticky notes with endless reminders, and I will not utter the words “I don’t have time.” I will just figure out how to prioritize differently, and make time for what needs to get done.
Right after another trip to the makeshift office bar tonight. Cheers.
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock