Archived Opinion

Our attitude toward time makes a difference

Our attitude toward time makes a difference

‘Tis the season is not only a motto for the Christmas holidays, but also an apt way to describe the craziness that is the month of May when you’re managing schedules, events, birthdays, celebrations, practices, banquets, end-of-year parties and final exams for five children. As school comes to a close and summer teases the horizon, life becomes a chaotic mixture of busyness, excitement and sentimental moments.

This past Sunday, we awoke early to continue cleaning and prepping the house for the oldest child’s graduation party scheduled for that afternoon. Next, we jetted to church to watch another child’s confirmation ceremony after which we attended a large brunch with friends and family members. 

Afterward, some of us went home while my boyfriend attended daughter’s baccalaureate. During that two-hour period, I hosted a play date, drove another kid to return his prom tux and dropped off a different child at basketball workouts. Meanwhile, guests were arriving for the party. Over the next couple of hours, more than a dozen people were at our house.

That morning, while we enjoyed one cup of coffee and Wordle before zipping into the crazy day, my boyfriend and I had a conversation that went something like: 

Matthew: “It’s going to be a long day (sigh).”

Me: “Nah… it’s going to be a day full of love and life.”

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Matthew: “(Smiling) …and it’s actually not going to be a long day. It’s going to have the same hours as every other day.”

Me: “Yep.”

My philosophical response to him was not of my own fruition. It was actually something someone said to me earlier in the week. When I was listing all the things we were trying to pack into one 14-hour period, she said. “That sounds like a beautiful day full of love and life.” She’s older than me with many more years of human experience and wisdom. Her words made me pause and change my perspective. 

The former Susanna could have gotten stressed, anxious or overwhelmed with a day like Sunday, but instead, I just smiled and relaxed my way through it. I intentionally noticed every smile, tear, laugh, kind word, authentic conversation or memory made. And when I went to bed at 11:30 p.m., I felt calm and happy instead of exhausted. 

Matthew’s comments about the hours in a day also got me thinking. Einstein famously said that time is an illusion. There are numerous theories and interpretations concerning the meaning behind this statement. In fact, I’ve learned the topic of time can be controversial. How do we truly know it’s flowing forward or that it’s passing? This is just something we believe based on the moon and sun, circadian rhythms of animals and other natural phenomena, but in reality it’s quite challenging to measure the passage of time.

The concept of time affects us more than we realize. Researchers have even coined terms for the two ends of the spectrum. “Time famine” is that dreadful feeling that there’s no time to get anything accomplished or being in a constant state of playing catch-up. In contrast, “time affluence” is a feeling of being abundant in time, which can have real benefits in our lives. While time famine can create an ongoing state of personal crisis, time affluence is powerfully uplifting, sometimes more so than tangible wealth, improving not only personal happiness but also physical health and community involvement.

In her book titled “Time Smart,” Ashley Whillans of Harvard Business School suggested that prioritizing making money over valuing our time has severe consequences that many of us underestimate. By understanding social science research, she argues we can make smarter decisions around our time that will lead to happier lives.

This is a topic that needs more space than a single column to fully explore. That being said, I want to offer at least a few practical strategies to expand the hours in your day.

Work to achieve a state of flow. Put your phone away and work in 25-minute increments with a five-minute break. During each 25-minute period, focus on one thing only. Do not jump around. Multitasking and distractions are both very counterproductive. If you finish that one thing before the 25-minute period, end it early and go ahead and enjoy your break. After four rounds, take a longer 15-minute break at which time you should go outside and get some sunshine, which is energizing.

Work on saying “no” to events and activities that don’t fulfill you and instead, use this precious time doing something that’s relaxing or enjoyable for you. 

When scheduling meetings, ensure there is an end time. Your time is valuable and people should not be allowed to manipulate it. It’s also important to take care of your health. Sleep is a weapon. Similarly, healthy food and minimal to no alcohol will make your brain more alert which will allow you to achieve more in a shorter period. This makes the day feel more expansive. 

As you wake up each morning, instead of dreading all the things you have to check off a list or worrying about not having enough time, think to yourself, “This is going to be a day full of love and life,” then manage your thoughts and your time in a way conducive to loving and living. The benefits will astound you. 

Leave a comment

2 comments

  • So enjoyed this. I sure am going to try and practice this as my life feels like a tornado is going through it way too much. I sure need the inner peace that this may help me fine. Love your articles

    posted by Peggy Melville

    Friday, 05/27/2022

  • Loved this article.
    We all need a reminder of how to take a positive view on our lives.
    Thank you (again) Susanna.

    posted by Debbie

    Friday, 05/27/2022

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