How to find time, how to find time, how to find time…
Earlier I found myself lamenting the fact that I do not have as much time as I would like to pursue my passions these days. This happens to me more than I would like to admit.
What triggered it was this: Ten years ago I had this idea for a passion project I wanted to pursue. It always felt like something that required a more meaningful chunk of time–like time off between jobs kind of time–so I put it off, and put it off some more.
Recently, I decided… you know what? A decade is long enough to kick the can– I’m going to chip away at it however slowly I need to and make it happen.
So I started my chipping, and my excitement started to build. And my excitement built and built and all I wanted to do was find more time for it. But I couldn’t. I was maxed out from a time perspective.
Of course somebody might tell me “it’s all about priorities, and there’s probably something you can deprioritize to find more time.” Or perhaps I’m wasting time and If I followed myself closely, I’d uncover an hour of television here, an hour of facebook there, and poof… I’d have the time I need.
Well guess what people, that ain’t true. At the moment, I never use social media. I almost never watch television either, unless I’m braindead and there’s little else I can do. I’m not saying this boastfully or as a badge of honor (I’m not saying I’m perfect with time management either), it’s just that I’ve already gone to those wells. They are all dried up.
And if you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you know I’ve rearranged my schedule to get up at 4am so I have time before my family wakes up, and before I ship off to work. I’m milking those hours for everything they’re worth. I might be able to wake up a tiny bit earlier, and I sometimes I wake up at 3:30am, but I’m already going to bed pretty friggin’ early and I think I’m at my limit for someone my age.
Now that person who tells me I could reprioritize and find time would actually be right. I could cut things. It’s just that they’d be high priority, important things to me like my hour of exercise, or time with my family, and I don’t want to give those up. Or it would be my job, which is largely out of my control, unless I’m willing to risk dropping the ball on the job, doing crappy work, or something drastic like quitting, which I don’t think my family would appreciate given I’m the sole breadwinner.
Anything else I’d cut right now wouldn’t feel right, which means my time allocation to my priorities is probably balanced pretty well.
That tells me the amount of time I have to devote to this passion project is probably the right amount of time for now, and I should make peace with it, be patient, and chip away at the project at this elderly-snail’s-pace. I don’t mean to offend elderly snails, either.
Did I make peace with it?
Not so much. There was an inner revolt going on. And this inner revolt led to me googling “how to find time for your passion.” I then proceeded to burn thirty minutes reading articles and blog posts about finding time for one’s passion. And no, I assure you that the irony of this is not lost on me.
Sadly, most of what I found is much of what I find useless about internet advice these days… “5 ways to do such and such,” and “10 things to do whatever whatever.” (Why must so much be a cute little list of the blindingly obvious? Apologies in advance to those who create this kind of work, but I always come away feeling totally unsatisfied… like this fresh bag of chips that looks so delicious, and after I open it up and snack for ten minutes, I start to realize I’m just as hungry as I was before. I suppose they are eye-catching titles, but in my experience, usually little more.)
So thirty precious minutes wasted and I was right where I started. I was actually worse off, because I’d even depleted some hope in those thirty minutes. The “5 ways to” and “10 ways to,” well, I’ve employed any of the useful tricks. This isn’t my first time at this particular rodeo, I’ve confronted this challenge so many times in the past.
Now to be clear, I am far from perfect with time management. I do have chunks of minutes during the day that I could redeploy. But I’ve already gone for the low-hanging fruit. I guess I was hoping for some more low-hanging fruit to reveal itself, but the easier and more obvious things have been tapped into already. The only fruit I see now is harder to reach, it’s smaller, and it’s not as ripe.
But the fundamental challenge I have is this: For these various creative endeavors, I have found that I need a solid period of interruption-free time. It’s very hard to get into a rhythm when I am stopping and starting, stopping and starting. Unless I have enough time and it’s under the right circumstances, I have difficulty getting into the zone. I need a big, substantive, filling piece of fruit.
But what I have are these small, not-so-ripe, hard-to-reach pieces of fruit. Ten minutes in the car here, twenty minute lunch break there.
And I find myself compelled to see if I can find a way to piece together enough of these small pieces of fruit into a more substantial meal. The hard part to this is usually my inability to switch off one thing completely and then fully switch on the next. Usually there is some lingering hangover effect from the first, and a slow ramp-up period for the next. But is it possible through enhanced powers of concentration and presence to conquer this challenge? Find some new, usable fruit? Piece together enough to make a meaningful difference?
I don’t know. I hope to find out.
Meanwhile, there is this still, small voice that seems to be saying: This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And don’t be confused by the word ‘marathon,’ because it’s not any kind of a race either. Be patient. Enjoy each step. The joy is in the process, not in the outcome.
That still, small voice, what a know-it-all. Such the wisdom buzz-kill. What the hell does it know anyway?
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