First off, this is not a blog post about mathematical concepts or metaphysics, so you can put away your abacus. However, being able to balance work/life obligations can feel as complex as computing the Euclidean space perspective; it’s daunting and, at times, feels like a never-ending game of catch-up. Michael’s post last week got me thinking about time and then my wife pointed out that I’ve experienced my own new understanding of time, so figured this would be a good follow-up to last week. We all want to be there for our family and home needs, but also have personal pursuits we would like to explore (nutrition, fitness, reading, writing, the arts, etc.). As a father of a one-year old, I understand the many demands of time, throw in your job (or two) and you end up with just enough time to eat and sleep. I work a full-time job, manage the gym and the marketing/social media for Roots, and then must finish everything else so I can spend as much time as possible with my wife and son. Oh, and my cloning program hasn’t been as successful as I hoped.
This leaves us with 24 hours to use each day, but numerous tasks to be done during that time. This is the crux many people find themselves facing and often cannot find the “right” answer. I would contend that there is no “right” answer and spending ones time trying to find this answer only pushes you further down the not-enough time rabbit hole. I know this is pretty obvious, but I would like to present another perspective, one that I took on as I started to evaluate what is truly important in my life. Now, each person has their own circumstances to take into account in order to complete this type of evaluation which may not make it as easy as it sounds coming from me in this blog post; by no means am I saying this is a blanket solution, just another perspective to view this conundrum.
As we take on more and more real-world responsibilities, we are often faced with making sacrifices for one reason or another. It is this decision making process that I think we can see differently and instead of seeing sacrifice as a negative, we see it as an opportunity to gain independence from the white noise that can clutter our lives and calendars. Think about the things you do on a fairly regular basis; now from that list, what are tasks you absolutely cannot get rid of (work, doctors’ appointments, taking care of the kids, taking care of our parents, etc.). This leaves us with a list of other time consumers that may be necessary and others that may be frivolous. This is the list that we can use to carve out time to pursue those things that are personally fulfilling. Unfortunately, our society can, at times, make us seem selfish because we want to seek a way to enjoy our own personal growth, but without our own growth, we cannot contribute as much to our family and friends.
For me, I realized I wasted too much time browsing aimlessly online or watching TV just because it was on. So we did away with cable (gasp, I know) and now only stream TV shows, which forces us to be much more selective about what we watch and when (we’re lucky to get one 1-hour show a night). Now the internet, that’s an easy one to let get away from you; so I cut out some social media and then use RSS feeds to send me topics I’m most interested in so I don’t waste time just browsing. But this only tackled some time before or after work, I needed time during the day. So for me, the biggest chunk of time that I found was lunch. I realized I would eat lunch at my desk every day and would often skip a formal lunch hour. I figured, if I am going to eat at my desk anyway, I may as well take my lunch break to get in my gym time. That was nearly 4 years ago and I wouldn’t change a thing.
There are several other changes I made in order to allow for time to hit the gym, but at the end of the day I knew that this time at the gym was more important that the many other superficial needs or wants I had vying for my time. I know this isn’t as easy for everyone, but sometimes, just going through this exercise will help you realize how you spend your time and if the value returned is worth the investment. Further enriching our personal lives has so many positive benefits that can have a rippling effect on our general well-being.
Until then, I’m the guy you’ll see in the gym most mornings and eating lunch while on conference calls at my desk.