One of the big complaints I often hear from people is, “I don’t have enough time!” If I was to be perfectly honest with all of you, it has been one of the major complaints of my life as well! So, I have studied and studied time. In that process, I have tried to determine what makes time expand. What makes us be able to sometimes experience that we can get major amounts of things done in just a little time, and sometimes we cannot get anything at all done in an entire day!
First, it is important to determine if time is your true problem. For some, their true problem is deprivation or simply not being able to set priorities. That could mean that a person wants to just play all day and becomes aggravated when they have to do menial tasks. It could be that a person tries to do every favor that anyone asks and tries to take care of their own life as well! If either of these are the case, then looking into how to say no, either to yourself or someone else, might just solve the problem.
If that’s not it, and you really just seem to not be able to get your life done in a reasonable amount of time, then read on. Here is a story about my first discovery about time.
By now you know that I lived in Missouri when I was a teenager. We lived in a small town called Lee’s Summit. When I was sixteen, I got a job at a local market. I was very excited to have this job, very proud and very sure of my intelligence and abilities. There were many tasks, from ringing up customers, to stocking, to cleaning, to creating ice cream deserts. They all seemed simple enough and I breezed right through my shifts. The only drawback was, that although I did go to high school with all of the other employees, I did not know any of them and was very self-conscious around them. But, I figured over time I would become more comfortable.
The shifts were after school from 3-7 or 7-11 or 3-11 on the weekends. I expected to work about 20 hours a week. Everything seemed to start out okay. But, as the weeks went by, I noticed that my boss was giving me less and less hours. Because I really was working for the money, I became concerned about whether or not I could keep the job. I was almost at breaking point when my boss gave me only two 4 hour shifts one week. I became really angry, but was also quite afraid to talk to him. I was also afraid to quit. So, I just steamed through that week and worked my two shifts.
The next week, my boss, John, only gave me one shift. That was the final straw. I was crazy angry and wanted to quit on the spot. However, I just couldn’t leave without telling my boss that he was a jerk! My thoughts were that it was obvious that he was unhappy with my performance, but he did not have the courage to tell me what his concerns were. I felt that was seriously unfair and that he needed to know that it was not okay to treat someone that way. (Also, remember I was 16 and anger was my driving force.) So, I gathered all of my courage together and I asked my boss for a meeting.
We sat at the front counter in the store the next evening. I told him that I was quitting. I told him that it was important to me that he know why I was quitting. I said, “It is obvious to me, by the fact that you reduced my hours that you feel I am doing something wrong. But, I feel that it is unfair of you to not have told me what was wrong and not give me a chance to correct it.”
He set quietly for awhile, with his hands together under his chin. He finally looked at me and said, “Yes, there is a problem with your work. You are too slow. All of the other employees complain to me about you. But, you are right and it was unfair of me to reduce your hours without telling you. So, I tell you what, I will give you 3 days to improve. I will give you my best employee to re-train you. If in those 3 days you improve, I will give you all the hours you want. If you don’t improve, I will not fire you, but I will continue to only give you one or two shifts each week.” I agreed to the deal.
Secretly, I was still outraged and incensed. I decided that I would work so hard in the next three days that I would become the star employee. Then, I would quit! Take that boss!
So, his top employee, Trudy came to my aid. She worked diligently at training me as if I was a brand new employee. She actually gave me a tour of the entire store in great detail. She trained me on every task and showed me short cuts. She told me that I should began timing myself on each task, and then keep trying to beat my time. Each day I spent with her, I simply marveled at how much I did not know. I was so shocked at how much was included in my job, that I wasn’t doing and did not even know I wasn’t doing. My anger gave me such focus that I felt I suddenly woke up!
The difference was drastic. I felt so much more alive that I clearly saw what had gone wrong. I saw that every day I had been there, I was totally freaked out and worried about what everyone thought of me. I was worried about whether or not they were making fun of me behind my back, if they liked me or didn’t, whether they thought I was ugly or pretty, whether they thought I was cool or uncool. Those thoughts had whirled in my mind uncontrollably. After the three days, I felt completely different.
I saw that having too many emotional thoughts took up actual space in time and awareness. I could not see what was happening around me because I was too focused on worry. I did not experience being slow, because my awareness was quite full with those thoughts. I did not experience being idle or standing around not doing anything. The worry simply put me in slow motion.
Needless to say, I did not quit after the three days. I was able to overcome my pride and I saw that I simply wanted to excel. True to his word, John gave me the 20 hours a week I wanted and within a month, he promoted me. I worked there for four years and considered this one of my most valuable lessons at a young age.
The moral is that thought and emotions take up space in actual physical time. The more you can put your focus on the tasks at hand, the faster you can actually complete them. So, the work you would want to began, is how to overcome heavy thoughts and emotions or at least put them aside when you are trying to get things done.
Another way to perceive this problem with time is by considering what happens when you hear someone complain. I am sure either you yourself have had that experience or given your ear to someone who seemed to just want to complain and complain about their circumstances. You probably thought, “If you would put one ounce of that effort to figuring out solutions, your life would not be so bad!”
So practice being completely absorbed in each moment you are living. If you want to worry, schedule it into your day! Start trying to observe if you are afraid, deprived, feeling sorry for yourself or confused. Figure out where your time is being drained. You will quickly discover how to redirect your energy and attention!