Time. Something we never have enough of and we’re always looking for ways to find more. But twenty-four hours a day is all we’re ever going to get.
I’m a calendar-keeper and have a to-do list for each day where I write down the things I want (and need) to get done that day. I can’t tell you how many times I move the things that were undone from today’s list to the next day only to repeat that and move it ahead again. There just isn’t enough time to do everything, is there?
I recently read an article by Anne Lamott called “Time Lost and Found”. In that article, she says:
“There is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.”
Creative expression – something we probably all long to have more time for. But we have to make the time. I know, it sounds easy when it’s actually not easy at all. But we need to really look at where we’re spending our time and see if there are ways we could squeeze out some for ourselves, to find time for that creative expression we’re looking for. We all have responsibilities and things that must get done each day but I challenge you to find the things in your life that you’re doing that really don’t NEED to get done. What will feed my creative soul more, having a spotlessly clean house (well, that will never happen!) or taking a few hours with my camera? As Anne says, no one needs to watch the news every night or even exercise every day. A lot of days this is what my day looks like:
The right side is all the hours spent doing the things I think I have to do and the left side is what is left over for me, but I never get to that side. By the time the to-dos are done, there is no time left.
And don't wait for the time to just magically appear. It won't. Whatever you're doing for you, don't be thinking about your grocery list or your laundry. There's a lot of time in our day that we could be enjoying, but we lose it because we're focused on what we have to do next.
Make your free time as important as the pediatrician's visit, the conference call, and your meeting with the contractor. Treat it just like any other appointment. Try to find at least half an hour to an hour every day for you. It doesn't have to be all at once. And before you decide what you're going to do with the time you're building into your schedule, promise yourself that you won't waste it. Even if it’s just sitting quietly and listening to your own thoughts (no list making allowed), having a cup of coffee or tea and just enjoying the morning light on your kitchen table.
I know when I do this, I am so much more at peace and so much more present in my life than when I’m flying around trying to do it all and be all things to all people. I have a hard time saying no, especially to my kids, but I know how important it is to my wellbeing to find small amounts of time for me. And you know what? The world doesn’t stop turning. It’s all about balance.
Finding the balance between the things we need to do and the things we want to do which, as it turns out, are really things we need to do for our own happiness.
I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. You can find it if you look for it. Anne says:
“Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it. It is our true
wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.”