I have always been troubled by what my mother calls time management. I’m sure other people call it that, too, but I heard it first when I was twelve, trying to get ready for school but repeatedly getting sidetracked for reasons hair-related. “Boy, do you have a problem with managing time,” she would say. I had no idea what she meant, of course, because time, as I knew, could not be managed, only experienced, or – perhaps – tamed and ridden, like a horse, or a wave.
One of us was missing the point entirely.
My relationship with time has only gotten more intense over the years, although what suffers now is not my productivity – which is actually quite impressive given my life stats (although not necessarily in pecuniary terms) – but the amount of time I
sleep, or do anything much outside of “have to.”
I am also usually either 10 minutes late or about to be running 20 minutes late, or doing something way too close to the deadline, or almost just past it, or doing what my father calls “shitting around,” which is basically self-explanatory. (Or else I’m giving a child a bath or tucking another one into bed. THAT, somehow, I manage to do right on time.)
It is not that I am at odds with structure, and actually find much satisfaction and competency in routine. I am, in fact, Queen of the List. Super Organized and Neat. Almost…A Jewish Bree Van de Kamp…Well, not really.
But still: RUSHED. Late. Preoccupied with what I’m not doing. Making new lists to compensate for what wasn’t done…..
I don’t want to disregard time. Really. I’m just 1. probably unrealistic as to how many hours a day has (what was the number again? ); 2. powerless, it would seem, to control time the way schedule-y people talk about doing.
It will blow on without my permission, manipulations, and illusions of punctuality. I’d simply like to be its friend, if it will have me. Harness it, and allow it to gallop freely, and hope I don’t fall off.
Because despite what the Clairol, Loreal, and Filofax people will tell you, time has a mind of its own, and we need to just be partners with it. Relatives will call to talk; special invitations pop-up unexpectedly; friends drop by to visit; a community or school function is at the worst time, but…; the need for kindness or hosting arises suddenly… in short: life happens. And saying no to some of these things on account of managing time really robs life of too much texture, too much love, too much opportunity.
Of course, saying yes to all of them is suicidal. My stay at home mom friends already know (after a few times of being actually kicked out by me when they showed up at my door…so sorry!!!) that I don’t do daytime chats, because despite all evidence to the contrary, I’m not REALLY home.
Also, the line between riding opportunity / diving into life and drowning completely in your own inefficiency or sleep deprivation or inability to say no is VERY thin. In my case I’d say, thin as a single hair. (Which no longer takes up any of my time, by the way. Ponytails and Headbands R Us.)
Those of us in creative fields are especially wary of this say YES! / say NO! dialectic, as web surfing / reading / social networking / blog commenting (all within reason) is not “shitting around” but actually part of creating and doing business. (Right?! Right?!)
Two of my colleagues, Marc and Sean, wrote excellent posts recently on their own blogs, variations on the theme of being a writer worthy of the title, managing to earn a living, gaining inspiration, and living with time, all in the same dimension. In fact, Marc wrote his in response to my distressed Twitter plea. Hats off, gentlemen.
But wristwatches: On.
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