By kristenh on May 12, 2008
Yesterday, I walked past my golf shoes, and noticed they really look as though they're collecting a fair amount of dust. In Colorado, many golf courses remain open year round, so I can't blame the winter into spring weather. I can only blame the slight layer of grey sediments on a lack of choice. I admit, my choices are governed by my family, career, and a strong sense of not wanting to let anyone down. For example, a few weeks back, I was describing my morning activities to one of my direct reports, and it was very clear how carefully I'd scheduled each minute, with literally no time to spare. Stress abounds in the case someone should forget their homework, or if the dog should decide to bring back up that small sock she shouldn't have eaten the night before, right in the middle of the carpet.
The sand trap
Like many, I'm living the super-scheduled life. Activities, urgencies and obligations which all seem immutable or undeniably necessary tend to consume many of us. We find ourselves running from one obligation to the next. Even worse, super-schedulers oftentimes prepare for one activity while still finishing up another.
Do you find yourself:
- making obligations to others while sparing no time to do something for yourself?
- using the bonus of any bit of "extra" time for fixating on distractions that you perceive as the cause of stress (kid care arrangements, those piles of laundry, all the email sitting in your inbox?)
- and simply put, do you fail to make a priority of stopping to take time away from it all?
Dancing on the green
Its time to evaluate what isn't working and decide what you'd really like to have time for but you just don't. And after that evaluation comes the hard part: actually deciding to make a change to the old habits that keep you from making the most of the time you have and implementing change. Of course, implementing a change to your behavior can't just be something you do on the weekend, when you perceive you actually have some spare time, it needs to be every day.
Decide to make the time to take the time. Schedule it, write it down, and then stick to it. For example, golf, while on the one hand challenging and sometimes frustrating (if you golf like I do), can provide a host of benefits. For those of us who tend to be super-schedulers of our time, its important to Evaluate, See the Benefits, and then Act on Making the Choice to take the time to play a round. It might help you think straighter about that pending proposal. Or perhaps it could grant you the patience required to help one of your kids with their homework later in the evening. And maybe it would just give you something to talk about with your friends or spouse that has nothing to do with work or stress or high risk decision making.
So, next time you're encouraged, asked, or required to bind your time to that which seems altogether undeniably necessary, yet seemingly without inherent value, you might just want to step back and take a Mulligan.