I already know I’ll be awake at 6, not because I want to be, or even because I’ve set an alarm, but because the sun creeps in past the edges of the curtains, and some dang internal time clock I have turns my brain back on when sunlight hits it.
The same internal clock tells me to stop and close my eyeballs for a few hours every afternoon for siesta time, but unfortunately, I don’t live in a culture that supports naps for adults, so more often than not, I usually power through.
Even though I have a schedule that could probably flex enough to actually pull off naps in the afternoon, there are all these weird feelings of guilt over the fact that most people can’t and lingering thoughts that I should be getting stuff done, not sleeping.
But the thing is, no matter how much I manage to get done by staying up working past midnight or skipping afternoon siesta, there will still be more to do on the list.
Like most people I know, I go through way too much of my life feeling as though I don’t have enough time.
I know it’s ridiculous, because I have the same 24 hours in a day as anyone else, there’s just a lot of stuff I want to get into it, and the ideas are all ping ponging around in my brain, not helping me focus one bit.
Aside from the day to day things that aren’t that exciting but keep my world and home running smoothly, there’s also the awesome and important stuff I really want to make happen~ the things I am creating and learning that I struggle to squeeze into my day, and often fail.
The National Anthem of too much to do, and not enough time.
On the flip side, I was recently telling some people about an amazing handmade costume I had seen at an event. It was a bodice, skirt and armor, all made from playing cards that had been hand stitched together. It was seriously amazing.
I hadn’t even gotten to the part about the shield and battle ax, when the response came.
“Clearly, that was someone who has too much time on their hands.”
I’m fairly sure my face showed confusion and mild annoyance, not just because an old Styx song starting playing on repeat in my head, “tooooo much time on my hands, take it away with my sanity….”
I was annoyed because not only did I have to resist the urge to start singing (if this audience wasn’t impressed with the costume story, they sure wouldn’t be impressed with my remedial level vocal skills...) but even more so because I can't understand why this kind of comment is so common when it comes to creative endeavors that appear to take any amount of time.
It’s as if time spent creating is somehow time wasted, or as though a person who makes cool things must have no other responsibilities.
Personally, I’d thought the costume was brilliant, and was blown away at the talent and creativity of the maker.
Creating things is one of the absolute best things we can do with our time. I’d go as far as to say that the world would probably be a better place if we collectively spent more time creating that consuming,
And, most of the creative people I know have to juggle like crazy to scrimp and save up time to make their creations into a reality. It’s not like they just get to sit around all day with nothing better to do. They generally have families and jobs and are as busy as the rest of us.
The difference is that the creative people who end up making the coolest stuff out there chose to spend their free time creating. They focus and they produce.
That probably means they have less time for playing video games or scrolling through social media or otherwise consuming things other people made. They’re busy actually making things themselves.
I’m not sure what’s behind the common semi-negative attitude about creative projects and people that seems so prevalent amongst those who are stuck in the modern American version of adulting.
Perhaps it makes us feel better about our own unfinished dreams if we pretend that it’s somehow easier for others to complete theirs?
Personally, I feel a mixture of mostly inspiration along with a wee bit of jealousy because these people have actually figured out how to work with the time they have, and make their creations come to life.
Even if I don’t understand or really have any interest in the finished product, I have a huuuuuuge admiration for the people who have the consistent focus to complete their projects because while I’d like to think I’m all super productive zen lady, the reality is that a good portion of the time, I’m all over the place getting sidetracked and feeling scatterbrained with too many half cooked ideas.
So, rather than mocking or resenting the people who spend 12 billion hours making their weird ideas come to life, I’m trying to learn from them.
And what I’m learning is that the trouble isn’t with time~ it’s with focus.
Seth Godin (AKA Mr. Super Productive Guy) says, “When you have a lot of balls in the air, it's easy to just ignore the ones that make you uncomfortable or that might fall.
Success comes from doing the hard part. When the hard part is all you've got, you're more likely to do it.
And this is precisely why it's difficult to focus. Because focusing means acknowledging that you just signed up for the hard part.”
Ugggghh already. I know he’s right. I probably have to push through the hard part to finish, even if it’s really, really, really hard for me to ignore all the new shiny things that come across my radar.
Sure enough, amongst the shiny things in my inbox was something from Marie Forleo, who concurs that sometimes, you just need to just focus on one thing until it’s done.
"Creative success means balancing your love of starting things with a habit of finishing them."
It's a simple concept in theory, but not an easy one for a person with an active brain full of crazy schemes and what seem to me to be good ideas.
But, if I’m ever going to get any of these schemes out into the world, I know I need to actually put more effort into whatever it takes to get the idea into completion.
Maybe that’s what keeps so many people from ever even starting things? It’s easier to just let your brain be lulled and distracted in a world of ever present screens, and there’s no real risk of failure if you never try.
For me, starting isn’t the hard part. I love starting projects. Finishing them is where I struggle, and having 47,000 going at once probably doesn’t help anything..
So, after giving in to sleep around 1, I started over at 6 something in the morning, and after mentally hemming and hawing about how cozy my bed was for a good while, I got my arse out of it, and headed out to write in the back yard. Not just to write, but to finish a frigging blog post.
It didn’t go smoothly nor easily, but I stuck through the hard part and didn’t give up~ not even when my laptop decided to restart and do updates that took 20 minutes, which was just long enough for my SweetHeart to wake up and have coffee with me and the dogs and baby chickens to start making a racket demanding food and by the time all that happened, all of a sudden, it was after 9, which was when I had planned on starting my other work for today.
I still hadn’t stretched, or walked the dogs, or journaled or looked at my to-do list for the day yet to see how far behind I was. Heck, I hadn’t even showered.
But I sat my butt down and wrote.
And I’m proud to say that I finished this post (well, I’m wrapping it up now anyway)
OK, to tell the truth, I actually still got sidetracked a few dozen times and a whole other day of working and family life passed before I got to this point of wrapping this up, but dang it, I got here!
For the most part, the distractions I succumbed to ~ connecting over morning coffee with My Love and making sure my animals wouldn’t die of starvation~ those were actually worth being temporarily sidetracked.
And the other stuff was just life. It happens and you deal with it.
When you find yourself way behind schedule, but finally in eyesight of the finish line, you can choose to be bummed at yourself for getting so far behind, or be glad that you finally got there.
Trust me. Pick option 2.
You may not be Mono Focused Zen Mom either, but we all know it’s the kind of thing that comes from actual practice more than reading about it.
So, for today, let’s practice not wasting time by fretting about lack of it, and instead do something to enjoy what we do have.
How about you? How do you handle trouble with time?
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