Tango With Time
People think I am organized and efficient. But lately, time often eludes me. I find myself caught up in mindless activities or curious contemplations, only to realize I’m behind schedule and must race against the clock to get it all done.
Sure, some days flow like a smooth dance … I confidently lead the way, taking each step with precision and grace. Yet there are those periods where I find myself out of sync, overwhelmed by tasks because I’ve been wasting away the day.
I’ve read countless books on time management and know a lot of the tricks. However, when I paused to explore the issue, it became apparent that this is deeper than the effective use of time. The older I’ve gotten and the more flexibility I have, the less productive I’ve become. Maybe that’s normal, part of the natural aging process. But it makes me wonder … Why do I often race against the clock, especially on the days when I have the most time?
Perhaps the busier our schedules, the more we accomplish. When there aren’t choices as to when to workout, shop for food, do the laundry, or clean, we somehow figure how to squeeze it all in. Yet, when there’s space in our calendars to decide when we do what, it’s easy to put things off and become immersed in whatever holds our attention at that moment.
While there is nothing wrong with this, I’ve noticed that when I’m off my schedule, I’m off. After taking some time out to play with various scenarios, I’ve realized I require a healthy balance of doing and being. I need a definite schedule that allows for flexibility. Otherwise, I fall out of step with time.
This led to more questions. Why, at my stage of life, do I feel as though there is so much to do? Do I try to squeeze too much into one day? Do I have trouble saying “no.” Do I get a kick out of beating the clock? Yes, yes, and yes …
There are many things I like to do, and I have no intention of stopping any of them. But how can I fit these activities into my schedule along with the non-negotiable responsibilities, obligations, tasks, and chores?
I suppose the answer lies in additional questions … Is everything on my “to do” list necessary, or have I merely added tasks, behaviors, and patterns over the years? And are these wants and needs, or are they based on should and musts?
It’s human to cling to behaviors that no longer serve us. While some may have merit and benefit our family or us, others may no longer be necessary. In fact, if we take a moment to look within, we may see how some activities clog our days and hold us back from discerning how we truly want to spend our time.
When I looked closely at my “to do” lists and calendar,, I started to question whether these tasks were essential or based on a subconscious belief system of what I was supposed to do. It became clear I created my own drama with time. Frequently, I “should” myself into thinking I had to complete certain activities. Over the years, these stories accumulated, scripting what I thought was necessary to do. But were they?
I believe it comes down to prioritizing what we want out of life. This then shapes how we spend our free time. We all have different portions of available hours, depending on our stage of life. After we complete the non-negotiable tasks and responsibilities, what do we desire to do with the time left? Do we stoke our dreams, or are we guilted to focus on our “shoulds”? If you are unsure, maybe consider these questions.
Do I allow time for hobbies and interests?
Do I foster relationships by investing my time in people?
Do I encourage my curiosity to discover what could be?
But maybe the biggest question is …
Do I allow guilt to monopolize my precious free time, telling me I must do this to be better, to be enough, to be safe … or do I listen to my soul’s whisper which encourages me to explore, discover, find joy?
After all, once the day is done, it cannot be retrieved. It becomes the past. While not every day needs to be epic—sometimes rest is the best choice—it’s vital to remember we get to choose how we spend our free time. For when we allow our need to please, impress, or gain approval dictate, we miss out on beautiful opportunities to expand, elevate, walk on our path.
How will you spend your extra time today? Are you willing to dance?