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Posts Tagged ‘Time’

I thought this deserved its own section because it is such a unique concept. One of the other articles I read from the website (yes, you may laugh), The Art of Manliness, discussed the idea of shadow work (Shadow Work and the Rise of Middle-Class Serfdom). Essentially, what they say is that, with the advent of internet and transportation, we have taken on a lot of tasks normally reserved for other people, which ultimately increases our busyness. It used to be that someone else had to book travel stuff for you, but now we have the option to spend dozens of hours in research online trying to find the best deals.

We used to go to the doctor if we had something wrong with us – now we spend hours on the internet trying to search for a solution ourselves or make sure the doctor’s recommendation is the best one.

We used to read the newspaper in the morning and go to work, content we knew what was going on in the world. Now, if there is breaking news and someone mentions it to you within five minutes and you haven’t heard of it, then you are not only behind the times, you might not be doing your job well (especially as an analyst). It’s called information overload, which I will probably mention again.

“Rather than experiencing long, unbroken stretches of time in which we concentrate on completing tasks for a single role in our lives, we are constantly changing the hats we wear — toggling from husband to cashier, office worker to news editor, father to travel agent.”

Anyway, it’s not necessarily bad that we do all these things – it is just another choice we have made on how we are spending our time, is how it was explained.

It also leads to what is called decision fatigue. According to more than one article I came across, as humans we can only make so many decisions before we become too tired to choose anymore, which then leads to us choosing instead to watch tv or spend time on our phones – mindless activities.

In other words, one reason we become exhausted is because every day, every hour, we are making decisions about what we want to do, how we want to do it, even things as mundane as whether we check our phones, what we might be forgetting to do, etc.

The authors in the article discussing this put it in a way that resonated with me:

I think it gets to the heart of why people feel overworked, worn out, and harried — why they just can’t be bothered to be civil or to socialize or to have hobbies, even though on paper they don’t seem to have that much going on. The stuff that’s eating away at their willpower aren’t the things you’d put in a planner, but the overlooked shadow work in the wings.

So, the question becomes, what to do about it? Well, the article has lots of suggestions, but I think some of the most useful and ones I’ve been slowly trying to implement are: Be ruthless in filtering information. Basically, don’t try to read everything, and don’t read crap. There is too much information to process.

And secondly – and perhaps what I think is most useful – is to be “satisficer rather than a maximizer” – in other words, when making decisions, don’t weigh every single option – speaking of things like buying things – pick the first thing you are happy with and assume you made the right decision. I’m terrible at that. I like measuring every single thing before I purchase and I sometimes spend hours on that. I really need to do better on that. It is probably one of the things that sucks away my time.

Hey, look at that – progress!

"I just went online for tips to help my cold, and now apparently I'm dying."

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I went to a Bible camp when I was . . . mm, probably like 16. It was a week-long of chapels, seminars, prayer time, etc. There is one thing that sticks out in my mind from that time over 15 years ago. It is a seminar called Redeeming the Time. He spoke on how to better use your time. The only thing I actually remember him saying is that you shouldn’t use alarm clocks because if you were woken by an alarm clock then you weren’t getting enough sleep. He obviously works for himself. I still use an alarm clock. I could never get to work on time without one, no matter what he says. I don’t remember anything else he said, except that I was mesmerized by the idea of redeeming the time. Using my time wisely, better, and doing more.

I apparently still have a fascination for time, because lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research into the subject of being overwhelmed lately. And by research, I mean when I have a moment and a thought occurs to me, I’ll do google searches, and I (sort of) read a book called “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.” And I occasionally go on spurts of reading articles on related subjects. Anyone who has been reading my blog longer than this post is probably currently tilting their head wondering why. After all, I am a career woman with a hobby of writing, living in the city with a 10-20 minute commute, and it’s just me and my husband – no children, no yard work, not even family in the area, and, yes, I even have maids come in to clean my apartment on a biweekly basis (courtesy of my new job/raise). Why on earth would I, of all people, need to read about being overwhelmed?

Well, let me tell you. Because despite the fact that there is no earthly reason for me to be one of the rat race runners who feel like they never have a chance to breathe, I feel like I am. I feel like I am always rushing to the next thing, like I don’t have time for work, writing, exercising, hobbies, seeing people, cleaning, laundry. I write and re-write to-do lists and schedules and yet, I can’t figure out how to fit it all in. How on earth do moms do it? People with families in the area? Those who have sports, or classes, or church commitments, or any of the other numerous obligations that most people in America do and I don’t? So, I figured I was going about something terribly wrong.

I think I really started looking into this when I happened upon an article that mentioned how, every time you asked how someone was, it was almost guaranteed they would answer in some synonym of the word, “Busy.” Which, struck me right at the heart – because, I’m pretty sure that is my automatic response too. Anyway, I’ll tell you the conclusions to my ramblings first – what I now believe are the primary reasons for the “rushed” feeling that I always feel.

  1. Phone addiction
  2. Trying to live up to specific, usually unrealistic standards (whether your own or someone else’s)

I’m going to take the next few days to go a little bit more in depth into what I’ve taken away from my research. This was going to be a single blog post, but when I copied it into a word document at it registered at 4 (now up to 8) pages, I realized my husband was right when he suggested making it a series. You can read the rest of the posts as you so choose, but don’t feel like you have to, since I’m pretty sure it’s just me brain dumping everything to better think through it all.

Busy

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I am a little afraid to look at how long it has been since I have posted anything. But I have an excellent excuse. My husband and I just started a masters program! I won’t spend too long on this, since all my friends have already heard my numerous complaints, but it has essentially sucked away any and all free time that we had. Life has basically been a mix of Exercise>work>cook>study>sleep-for-5-or-6-hours>start over. Not that we’ve given up all fun – we are going to the normal every other Tuesday game night tonight and it will be a welcome break. But it still feels like we are stealing time we should be using to study.

As if that wasn’t enough, we also signed up for the Arlington Citizen’s Police Academy, which takes place every Thursday night and is a three-hour class basically teaching you the ins and outs of how the Police Department works. The first class was last week and extremely interesting, so I am glad we signed up – it just takes away another night in which to do things.

I took all my breaks at work yesterday (which has also been insanely busy) to catch up on all my messages I’ve been ignoring for about two weeks and my poor friends and family finally heard from me! It took all my breaks and more to catch up. 😛 I think that is what I hate most – my inability to respond to messages in a timely manner anymore – I do so pride myself on timeliness.

I also have been doing absolutely no writing. Which might be why I feel so completely overwhelmed and like I have no life at all anymore despite the fact that I love learning. Don’t get me wrong – this class has an insane amount of work – which I hear is typical of masters’ classes – but it occurred to me a couple days ago that if I actually made time to write as well, I would feel more fulfilled. Not picking up a pen in two months is a little rough. So I am establishing a new goal of writing 15 minutes a day no matter what. I did it that one time for a week straight – perhaps I can do 2 weeks this time? Maybe I’ll make it three weeks – the rest of the class – let myself have 15 minutes in another world a day.

find time to write

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Like a lot of Americans, I suspect, I have difficulties making the most of my time. It is just so easy to plop on the couch after work, think to myself, I’ve worked hard today earning a paycheck, I deserve to sit here and watch a movie or Dick Van Dyke, or otherwise do nothing productive unless I have to. This attitude is suicide for my writing career/plans, since evening is really the only time I have to write, unless I want to get up super early, which is next to impossible for a night owl like me. But evening is also the only time for me to clean and decorate my house, cook food for both dinner and the next day, and spend time with friends (few as they are) and my husband. Not to mention working out, reading, cross-stitching, or the other myriad of things I either enjoy doing or want to enjoy doing. I am sorry, but 4 hours just is not enough time to fit everything in! (That assumes, inaccurately, that I go to bed at a reasonable time) So usually, instead, I get home, think of everything I either want to or should do, become overwhelmed, make dinner, and spend the rest of the evening on the couch doing none of it because I can’t decide on a priority. By the way, if any of you readers balance a home life (without kids) and a career and a passion for writing, feel free to share how you manage your time.

So, anyway, I realized recently, that with all of the travel I am going to be taking, I will have a lot of down time at airports and on flights and even time alone in the hotel room at night. Once I thought about it, I realized it was almost like God shouting at me – “Hey, look what I am doing for you! I am removing distractions, allowing you to get paid, and work on your writing at the same time!” Ooohhh. What more can a writer/introvert ask for than an hour to 3 hours on an airplane with headphones and writing supplies, and then complete solitude in a hotel room that night? Discipline, apparently. Until the realization of just how blessed I am to have this opportunity really hit me, I spent the time alone mostly watching TV – again.

But I am determined to make the most of my time for once. I just got back from a trip to Boston, and between the airplane and the hotel room, I wrote about 800 words in my book (terribly ill-written, but written nonetheless), almost caught up on my Writer’s Digest magazines, caught up on my email/facebook messages, and even had a little time for reading. I turned the tv on a couple times, and forced myself to turn it off soon after.  I didn’t do as well on the return flight, mostly because I had a middle seat and didn’t like the idea of my seatmates watching me try to type or write a sappy story. So I read instead. But still! I call that improvement! And I am going to continue to work to discipline myself and make the most of the time God has given me.

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