Time…it has been an issue for me all my life. I am your late client. The one who shows up 15 minutes late for a 20 minute appointment. On time people seem to think that this does not bother late people when in fact it makes us anxious; plummeting our feeling of well being into our quickly grabbed flip-flops ( it was too much trouble to find the mates to something else).
In an effort to fight this lamentable character defect I have:
Organizing my day the night before
Getting up earlier
Setting the clocks forward
Writing notes on exactly what time I need to leave to be on time
Working a backward calender to create space for project
Asking others to hold me accountable
Reading books about time management
Looking at how disrespectful it is to be late
Attending Counseling on my need to in control ( being late means I am in control)
Praying for healing of this affliction that drives my husband crazy
Beating myself with a wet noodle for not meeting my goals
I took it upon myself last year to interview some 2 dozen people about being early (to appointments, getting projects done, organizing their life), seemingly with all hairs in place a prepared for the day. The answer to the rush of lateness seems to be self-limiting behavior. For example; before getting the kids and yourself to school on time, you cannot expect to unload the dishwasher, load the washing machine, mop the kitchen floor and bake a dozen cup cakes for the last minute soccer party (Unless you decided to get up at 4 am). Limiting the options, prioritizing your time and being at peace with less (production, busyness, tasks, projects, goals engagements) seem to be the key. I absolutely hate that statement but as a grown-up, I am coming to realize that the self-limiters are right. Having my cake and eating over the kitchen sink with the mop in hand is not much fun.
Margins. Margins are the white space around the pages of a book. Or just look at Google’s home page: lots of margin area. Now look at Yahoo’s home page: little to no margin. I am overwhelmed by Yahoo’s home page, I move to open my mail quickly so I don’t get sucked in by the “extra junk” that rolls by and wastes the precious time I have to communicate with friends, clients and family.
How do you create margins? Early folks create a buffer of time between themselves and the appointment or project. It makes them anxious to add in more projects or think, “if I get this done now I won’t have to do it later.” Early folks say “no” to the just one more item that could be done in the last 5 minutes before leaving for school or work. Early thinking means you are able to sit quietly at the doctors office for a whole 10 minutes not worrying over all the other errands that could have been taken care of in that 10 minutes. Early thinkers feel at peace just being early. For this person being early is a reward in itself.
Those of us without good margins think just the opposite. What a waste of time being early is, I could have done…. by now and not have to do it later. Again it is the ability to say “no,” limit our behavior and sit with the idea that not everything is going to get our attention today.
Hmmpph! Even if this resonates as true for you, how do you implement it? That is a journey I am still on, creating the habit of margins. Some of it falls for me in the category of self-care. How can I give myself and others around me the gift of self-care? How do I take care of me so you do not have too? No one can give what they do not have? If I am not taking care of myself and yet am taking care of everyone else, the inevitable burn-out will happen.
Instead of “where is my stuff,” I am now thinking “where are my margins?” Time can not be recaptured. Money, material items and events can be recreated. That precious moment where my boy says” Mom look at this rock I found!” while I am so consumed by cyberspace I can not turn my head, is not going to be returned to me. Margin creation means I value things that may seem like time wasters in this over-busy culture. That sitting on the porch not doing anything, or wandering around not thinking anything in particular on a sunny afternoon, is creating a space in me for more peace later.
To surrender to limits sounds ridiculous but true. There are only so many hours in the day and so many years in our lives. For me, over stuffing my day makes me feel less accomplished more harried and much less able to serve others. Create some carefree timelessness today. Just be with you and/or the ones you love in a spontaneous moment of doing nothing and see the space that opens in your heart and mind.