The clock – who doesn’t hate the clock? Its hands move too quickly; there is never enough time left on it; it ticks away on the wall, reminding us of our mortality (or that we’re about to be late to an important meeting). What could one possibly like about the clock?
As it turns out, there is much to love, if you practice reality-based time management. How many times have you let a basket of clothes sit unfolded, or let a drawer full of veggies liquefy into black slime because you were convinced that there would never be enough time to deal with them properly?
Have you ever timed yourself folding a basket of laundry? I finally did and was surprised and pleased to find that I can fold and put away an entire load in about 10 minutes. I can wash, cut and blanch an entire delivery bin of produce in about 30 minutes. I can wash just the hand fruit in less than 10; blanch the broccoli and green beans in another 10 and chop up whatever leafy greens I foolishly purchased in the belief that THIS time I will like them, in another 10 – so even if I don’t have the 30 minutes at a stretch, I am certain to have 10 minute blocks here and there throughout the week.
I’m not telling you this to say that I’m better than you, I’m telling you this because before I knew how long things took, I would let chores pile up because I truly believed that I didn’t have the time to keep up with them. In some cases this is true – I still have a skirt in my sewing room patiently awaiting a waistband, and I have a road bike wheel in my shed that needs new spokes. These chores DO take quite a bit of time but folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, prepping fruits and vegetables, sharpening the knives and even cleaning the toilet take much less time than I ever thought they would (unless the toilet is the denial toilet, then you had better be sure you have a big slug of time and a healthy dose of fortitude to work with).
Another aspect of reality-based time management is to be mindful of the stuff you really care about and what outcomes you want. From there, manage your time to achieve the outcomes, with no preconceived notions of how long things should take. The measure isn’t whether something took the amount of time it’s “supposed” to; it’s whether you got the outcome you were looking for. Again here, I found that some activities are actually less time-consuming than I was expecting them to be, so in fact, much more doable. It doesn’t actually take 5 hours to have a decent mountain bike ride – it can take as few as 2. I can do major revisions on my book in a weekend, whereas I had been putting it off because I thought it was going to take weeks. But, suddenly, after a weekend of work, I had the outcome I wanted and could free up that other time for something else.