“Tess…started her way up the dark and crooked lane not made for hasty progress; a street laid out before inches of land had value, and when one-handed clocks sufficiently sub-divided the day.” —Thomas Hardy
“Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.” -Nietzsche
The blog squad’s challenge for this week was a cruel one. How does one manage time? What does that even mean? I saw Interstellar over the holidays and all I can say is, I’m glad that one hour of my time isn’t equal to 7 years in a parallel universe. (Also, I stole my title from one of my favorite movies, also on the topic of time.)
As per usual, our topic got me overthinking and chasing various life-hacker types around on the internet. I found this article on how so-called “time management” is only making us crazier, as doing more just breeds more doing. Attention, or “flow,” is what really makes us happier. And if you really want a doozy on the topic, read this one in the Long Reads section of The Guardian, which tackles both corporate and personal productivity from an existentialist angle.
The truth is, I don’t make a regular and conscious effort to be efficient. I feel more like a cat chasing a laser pointer than a symphony conductor controlling of all the various parts of my life. Sometimes it happens naturally. Sometimes I pack my bag at night for my morning workout. Sometimes I plan meals. Sometimes I make to-do lists and actually check things off. But only sometimes.
I think we all have our own small ways of saving time, however. Here are a few unintentional efficiency tricks I’ve found myself employing lately so that I can fit in the things that matter—the whole point of all this, right?
training time: Since moving to Vancouver I train alone more than ever before. A positive spin on this is that now there’s no endless texting about plans, or pre and post workout chit chat about routes. On the flip side, running or riding with a friend is also a great way to catch up while getting a workout in. I don’t really have a tip here, I guess I use both types of workouts depending on what my time frame/needs dictate on any given day.
don’t go to work: I often think about how much time I save working from home. My 30-second commute means that I get an “extra” 45 or so minutes that I’d otherwise be spending getting ready and packing for a day at the office. (Note: I know this isn’t manageable for everyone, and I’m extremely grateful for my remote work situation.)
double up: I turned on a podcast the other day while making soup, and remembered how much I used to enjoy being entertained and informed in those pockets of time where it’s easy for me to just zone out. While I do enjoy silence on a walk or staring out the window on the bus once in awhile, I’m trying to use that “downtime” more wisely by doing something positive, like calling a friend or listening to a podcast.
get up early: This is a classic trick of many masterfully busy people. I don’t consistently get up before 6 am, but when I do, I’m always amazed at how much more I get done. Thankfully, some of the weekly group workouts I like to go to are at 6 am, so this good habit is forced upon me at least twice a week.
calorie load: When 9 pm hits and I realize I haven’t eaten enough all day and start jamming my face with PB&J rice cakes, I’m going to start calling it calorie loading. Handfuls of granola at 10 pm? Efficiency, people!
layer appointments: Life without a car means if I have a dentist appointment downtown or have to run an errand on the west side, I’m making lunch plans with a freelancer or having dinner with my cousin while I’m at it. But I guess this is something everyone does. (Subtract 10 originality points.)
shower strategically: Whenever I can I organize my training so that swimming falls after my bike/run/strength session. This saves one whole round of getting wet, ready, dressed, etc.
wear the same pair of yoga tights all week. less laundry.
buy polyester bathing suits. less bathing suit shopping.
OK, now I’m getting desperate. I don’t really have many tips. Mostly I just like thinking about all the ways I could be more efficient and productive. To open up big chunks of time I’d probably have to stop training or socializing—neither of which I’m willing to do. So, I’m back at square one. Visit Laurel, Erin, Christine, Liz, Caitlin, and Elizabeth’s blogs over the next few days—I’m sure they’ll have better ideas!