I’m usually one of those people who mulls things over. I hold on until the event has past, the email is outdated, or I have to make a collection of quick decisions. The intention is there to read it all, participate in every event and opportunity. I am all in for kayaking, book clubs, and retreats. Sign me up! Except when I’m not into it, which as someone who is primarily introverted and really likes her alone time and personal space, is much more frequent than my joiner inclinations are willing to accept. When I do join an event it takes me a significant amount of time before I’m ready to dive back into the social scene. And while I don’t attend everything I’m invited to participate in – I still want the right of first refusal. Include me – yes! Depend on my presence – no thank you.
I’m reading a book about the brevity of life. It talks about all of our inclinations and machinations to “Save time.” The, “time savers,” and “quick tricks,” to empty your inbox or create space in your day. It turns out a lot of these ‘solutions,’ fail because when you send an email you increase your likelihood of getting more emails in return. You have not cleared your inbox after all. You’ve just heightened the expectation for the rapidity of your responses.
Typically, when we free up time in our days by using the washing machine, the dryer, etc. we don’t get that time back and use it for our own goals. Instead we pop over to Pinterest or open Architectural Digest and determine that now it’s time to remodel. We heighten the expectation for what cleanliness, order, and tidiness look like. Now, it’s not ok to simply have a spice rack – we must take every item out of its original packaging and place it in our own personalized containers that we label ourselves so as to match the professional organizer’s images on social media.
We don’t get that time back and that’s the big takeaway for me. If we keep pressing ourselves to be more productive, to hustle, or accomplish we’re never going to be satiated. Because there’s always more stuff to purchase, events to join, or opportunities to get involved. What it comes down to is hard choices. Do we want to travel the hour to family dinner on Sunday or would we like to mow the lawn? Do we do neither, either, all? That’s up to us. The most important detail is to look inward and determine what we really want. What do I need most? Do I crave the connection with family? Do I have guests coming over and part of what makes me feel comfortable is my lawn looking well cared for? These are hard choices and we can make them. Or put them off until the opportunity has passed. Either way, we’ve made a choice.
Instead let’s focus on what we want and need most in life. Stop trying to control our time. Simply follow the ebbs and flows. If we have thank you notes to write, sit down and write them rather than staring at emails all afternoon willing them to disappear. Even the concept of using time wisely is a modern invention. Time is not meant to be used. We don’t have a set number of years – some of us may be lucky enough to get more than 100, others might not make it out of their twenties. So please, do what brings you joy. Do the things that set your heart on fire. We can’t possibly attend every event or please every person – we can only please ourselves. Do the stuff that fills your cup, if you sprinkle in something else remember that it is bonus. And be fully present for the good things that you choose to do. If it is mowing the lawn – enjoy the long walk outside. And if you can take in the sunset.