I've been thinking a lot about time lately. I've been thinking about how i spend my time, About how time changes, priorities change and what's important changes. I've been reflecting upon how everyone seems to be talking about how little time they have today. "Busy" has become a consistent answer to intro questions like how are you? how's work? and how have you been?
Ideas and terms like "time-poverty" and "the glorification of busy" and "busy as a badge of honor" are becoming more and more prevalent in what I read and the conversations I have.
I've better really realized lately just how little time we have as we all tick toward the same expiration. Recently one of my very best, oldest friends passed away at the age of 36. Lots of people are suffering, sick & dying. American-ism is rushing us along to health or stress induced deaths at an alarming pace. The time we have may - on average - be getting longer, but is it getting any better?
It's likely just that I'm getting older and paying more attention. I'm aware more everyday of how I spend my moments and what I want out of life. I tend to re-read Bonnie Ware's 5 Regrets of the Dying not in any sort of morbid way, but as a spark toward thinking about and fostering honest self-appraisal.
As Ware notes, simple living, minimalism, essentialism may hold many the keys to unlocking a regret-free life.
What's changed? There's no less time than we've ever had. We work the same (more or less) hours than we have in the past. However, the pervasiveness of technology has filled every nook and cranny of our time. Got a second? check social media. Standing in line? check email. Our phones vibrate, chime and ring with notifications incessantly. Going to bed? better check email or social media to make sure that i'm not missing anything. It's become an impulsive response to any down time in thought or activity.
Boundaries that used to be defined by the act of going to a computer to check email or social media have been removed by placing those actions within arms length at any moment. I'm working on my boundaries and look forward to the day I don't have all that crap on my phone.
Options expand? Schedules get fuller I believe due to the increase in options we have to spend our time on. I grew up in a newspaper home. I went to journalism school and worked in newspapers for about a decade. That used to be how you'd determine your activities. You'd see a thing you want to do and clip it and put it on the fridge. You'd be invited by a friend or colleague to something and you'd put it in the calendar. Now, you're able to see everything going on with a few clicks of the mouse. Sometimes I go to a website and see something I want to do. A friend will invite me on social media. Often, I'll receive emails from meetup or directly from organizations that I want to participate in and support with opportunities to serve or attend. But when I check the calendar and see that I'm already committed to something else, I'm left with an uneasy feeling and resulting questions of am I doing and spending my time the way I really want to. This often leads to tough choices. I'm clearing space and if it's not a heck yeah, it's not going in the calendar anymore.
So what do I do? Like so many areas of my life, it begins with an awareness. At first I'm not even aware of what's going on. Everybody is else is just as busy and over-committed. As my options expand, I'm the one that has to make the changes, choices and decisions. It's pretty neat to watch what happens. Both in the space around me and in the thoughts internal. I've started changing patterns and creating space for thought, reflection.
I wake slowly and intentionally choose how I move through my days. I make sure that I create space for Hal Elrod's P.I.E.S (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual) care work into my daily routine. I've also started to clearly define and outline what I want my life and days and hours to look like. It's an uncomfortable, painful process because it leads me to change or accept and often times neither of those are what I want to do.
I leave my phone off. I leave it away from where I physically am. I resist the urge to see what i've missed, who's texted called or mentioned me in a post. I turn off notifications
Questions I'm asking: What do i want my days to look like? What do i want spend more time doing? What do I want more and less of in my life? How can i create the lifestyle i want to live? How can my skills and experiences best be utilized to help and serve others? I can I have the most impact? How do I do more by doing less?
Where do i go? I love it outside and try to get out into nature as much as possible. Its forced digital detox does me good. I like to get where it's quiet. I go backpacking, hiking, fishing and just sit as much as possible. I book airline tickets to go visit friends. I plan time spent with family members I don't see as often as I'd like.
Here's a short clip of how I spent my time yesterday. It was wonder-filled.
I find it's easier to hear that quiet inner voice that gives me direction when I'm still, quiet and calm and in today's world that's not easy.
Slowly, in peace,