Can You Use These Three Words?

three chairs to relax in

Life is hectic. Our jobs and responsibilities are constantly clawing at our time. As a result, we frequently try to squeeze more into our day than can comfortably fit. Rarely do we find ourselves saying, “I have time.”

I was reminded of this yesterday. A client needed to reschedule our morning session, leaving me with an unexpected chunk of free time. I decided to head over to Costco and stock up. It was a delightful trip, saturated in the joy of not having to hurry. I lingered over the aisles, tasted a few samples (I love this about Costco!) and then headed up to the front to pay. I pulled myself into a short line and prepared to quickly check out and get my $0.63 soda on my way to the car.

As it turns out, I got behind someone with a complicated situation and the line came to a standstill. I cannot be certain, but it seemed to have something to do with wanting to use a special kind of coupon and separating the order into pieces. Instinctively, I felt my pulse rise. I started looking around to find a shorter line, trying to figure out how to avoid this wait and check out faster.

Then… I suddenly stopped. I realized that I didn’t need to find a quicker line. If this task took me five or ten minutes longer than anticipated, I would still be fine. While normally I would be dashing to get through the line so that I could make an appointment or start on the next task, today it didn’t really matter. Today, I had time. This thought was both calming and empowering.

Being in a hurry is stressful. Rushing around can make us short-tempered and anxious. Have you ever been trying to get something done when a child or colleague interrupts you? At best, you may be tempted to ignore him/her or give a cursory response. At worst, you may snap back in frustration. Neither reaction comes from a position of strength, and neither leaves us feeling confident or successful.

Rushing can turn us into people we don’t want to be. I once heard this quote:

love and hurry are incompatible

I might add that hurry is incompatible with many desirable aspects of life, such as creativity, reflection, attentiveness, relaxation, spontaneity and generosity.

Admittedly, we can’t easily alter the list of things we need to do. Some days we simply won’t have sufficient time to complete our list at a leisurely pace. Still, it is important to be aware of the cost of “overbooking.” Just as it is important to think about where you will store a physical item before buying it, so it is critical to honestly consider the time required before taking on a new commitment. Generally speaking, estimate the time you anticipate needing to dedicate to a new activity, and then double it. This will accommodate for travel to and fro, learning curve adjustments and unexpected demands.

Time management comes down to priority management, and we are the gatekeepers of our own schedules. Others may make demands on our time, but ultimately it is up to us to assertively guard our time and reserve it for those pursuits that matter most.

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Do you think hurry and love are incompatible? How often do you say, “I have time?”

25 thoughts on “Can You Use These Three Words?”

    1. Can’t control everything that demands our time, but good to be mindful of the ones we do have influence over. Hope you and your family had a great break week!

  1. What a great illustration of our time perception! When feeling rushed and stressed about getting things done, waiting in line can feel like forever. But when we have some white space or cushion in our day, waiting doesn’t put us into a stress-induced state. And your description of your experience clearly highlights this. I am not a fan of rushing, although sometimes it’s unavoidable. When I find myself waiting on a line, I try to relax into it. Stress won’t make it go faster. Instead, I use it to daydream, plan, observe or strike up a conversation with a stranger.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…How to Prime the Pump to Make Great ChangeMy Profile

    1. So true to that we can’t always prevent rushing. Especially when my children were little, I felt that my life was run by the schedules of others (school, activities, etc.) I have learned to be a bit more MINDFUL (!) of which voluntary activities I take on, and to try and keep them to a level that won’t feel strained. I also try to “relax into” the wait of a long line. If I’m not in a hurry, it can be fun just to people watch!

  2. Hi Seana,
    Doubling the times makes so much sense. I love that idea! Usually, things don’t take twice as long so, at the end of the day, you give yourself a gift of a little time to do whatever you want. It is important to slow down a little.

    1. It doesn’t always take “double the time,” but exactly as you say, if it doesn’t, you end up feeling like you’ve found a bit of time. I rarely find that a new responsibility takes less time than I anticipated!

  3. I usually have time because when I look at the conflicting activities there usually is one that is really important and one that is not. I just decide to do the really important one and not be upset by the consequences of postponing the less important event but not forgetting it. This acceptance of of my decision and possible consequences relieves the tension of feel overbooked. This doesn’t always work unfortunately.

    1. It really is all about priorities, exactly as you are saying. Sometimes we have to choose between two good things! Accepting ourselves as being individuals who can only be one place at a time is step one. Mindfully and carefully considering what we sign up for is step 2. We can’t control everything that pulls on our time, but we do have influence over at least some of what we do, so that is a good place to start.

  4. I find that people are generally much more impatient by nature now. Whether it’s getting somewhere, answering a question or checking out, we want it done immediately. What contributed to this? It is our technology, how we have too much to do or how we give ourselves permission to be impatient. It’s good for us to reflect on this.

    1. Yes, I totally agree Ellen. I see this in our world, and in myself. I think the technology has made me less patient. I seem to have an expectation of being able to get an immediate answer or response. I find that I now let mu (adult) children know when I’m heading into a work session so they know I won’t be checking my phone for awhile. Otherwise, they tend to assume something is wrong!

  5. You bring up a good point. I too feel like I am trying to jam in all these activities throughout my day. Over the years, it has made me more efficient in my time management. But, when I look at my kids who are in high school, I realize they may not understand when I am telling them to improve the efficiency of their time. When I was their age, I found that without an efficient amount of time to do things, it made me quite stressed. So I started perfecting the process of maximizing the things I can do in the amount of time I had to do them. My kids don’t know my method. So, I have to remind myself instead of yelling at them; they are learning their own system of how to maximize their time with the tasks that need to be done. It does get me frustrated, and they feel annoyed because I am nagging them. I am trying to change. Hopefully, sooner than later. Great post!

    1. It has become something of an instinctual response to be annoyed by having to wait, or even slow down. But there can be blessings in these moments if we are able to pause, look around and take them in. Having a bit of “cushion” in our schedules is one way to help this process along.

  6. Great post, Seana! I find I struggle with the time issue often with my son. I have found trying to use increased patience and listening (focus word!) to him really helps him feel valued and acknowledged and then he’s more apt to hop to it. I also heard a fun expression on a mom’s blog the other day that if you’re really struggling with your child to be on time or get things done you can use the expression “cheetah time!” As in today, we need to be on cheetah time to make sure we get to school before the bell! It makes the point of having to hurry but in a fun way (who doesn’t like to pretend they’re a swift jungle animal!) so the child doesn’t end up feeling frazzled and pushed along in a negative way.

    1. That’s a great little suggestion, Sarah. No mom likes being a constant nag, so finding a way to deliver the message in a positive way is a great idea! I can see the phrase, “cheetah time” sticking in my vocabulary!

  7. I love those words. A month ago? I didn’t even eat lunch because I was so drowning in work. Now I’ve let go of 1/3 of the work – the 1/3 that barely paid and made me miserable. Nice, right?
    Today I thought I had a meeting but I didn’t. So I said, “I have time.” And went for a two mile walk with the dog! Bliss!
    Tamara recently posted…Springtime Giveaway With OshKosh B’goshMy Profile

    1. I love this comment! It takes courage to let go of work, but when you realize that you work to live, it makes complete sense to let go of the low-paying, time consuming assignments. Aren’t we happy that it is getting warm enough to enjoy a walk with the dogs? Yay!

    1. Excellent point about making mistakes, Andi. That is a definite “side effect” of rushing. I think it is just healthy to be aware that there is a cost to everything we sign up for – even the fun things! Being mindful about each and every commitment, the way we might be about a physical object, can pay huge rewards.

    1. Good question! In today’s environment, where time is so valuable, the idea of “killing time” seems sort of crazy. Why would we want to kill something so precious? Perhaps a better expression would be “treasuring time.” Anything that is special to me deserves my attention and respect so that I may enjoy it!

    1. I heard it a long time ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. I know I am not at my most loving when I’m rushing around. Definitely been convicting!

    1. I’ve heard this from a few people. I wonder if this, “I must be busy” mindset is more common in our culture now than it used to be. If it is, that is a shame. Having time to recover and process and think and breathe makes us more productive (and kind) in the long run. It’s definitely ok to do nothing!

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