I was having trouble finding time. My schedule went from one thing to the other, priorities changing by the day, the minute, and more time dealing with customer service than I feel like talking about. That’s why I didn’t write articles here during the summer.
I was trying to save time by rushing, but it felt like an ongoing scramble.
I had an idea. Instead of saving time by trying to get more done in a day – (which doesn’t really work because the day doesn’t stop, you have to decide to stop) – I was going to declutter my time.
Declutter Time you say? Yes! Declutter time. Like decluttering your home but in your mind. Noticing what thoughts are weighing you down.
My home is organized and as clutter-free as it gets. But I realized my mind could have made an appearance on the show Hoarders.
I started taking stock of where my thoughts landed all day. Many of my thoughts brought up moments from my past that had nothing to do with what I’m trying to get done now. I started calling these kinds of thoughts Unnecessary Reminders. They’re the ones that sprinkle themselves around when they’re not at all helpful and only compound the feeling of stress that there’s not enough time in the day.
A good test of whether a thought is an Unnecessary Reminder is to ask yourself this: “If a person was standing next to me and said [that] to me, would I tell them “I have enough on my plate. Did you have to bring up that horrible outfit I wore in 1994 right now?!”
In other words, does that “person” have terrible timing, bringing up lousy things that have nothing to do with anything?
If so, time to declutter time!
Decluttering time is the antidote to rushing because it expands time. Time isn’t just linear. It also changes in depth depending on how you feel.
I’ll tell you what it feels like to expand time with a traffic vs. open road simulation:
Imagine what happens when you’re sitting in traffic. Frustrated thoughts of what the consequences will be when you arrive late leads to feelings of anger, guilt, self-disappointment, desperation, and exasperation. The view is annoying, the music repetitive, and every person on the road was put there just to be an obstacle in your life. Stuck.
Okay. Shake off that dreadful experience. Now, what happens when you drive on an open road? The breeze is invigorating. The view reveals interesting things never seen before. The music is a fantastic personal soundtrack, and you marvel at how in the world you remembered all the words to that song?! There’s possibility and a feeling of hope.
Only two differences that created those emotional experiences: Speed and Time. And speed only feels good if you have the time. Speeding when you’re late still feels scattered and stressful. So it really comes down to time.
I suspect this might be what meditation is for. Not what I originally thought the goal was: To see if I can sit still. No! It’s experiencing what it’s like to not be too hard on yourself and stay focused. Letting go of Unnecessary Reminders so easily that the Cringeworthy Outfit of ’94 doesn’t even show up to haunt you while you’re trying to get other things done. Maybe you can even look back on it, fondly, later. (Nope, still working on that one.)
If your time is cluttered, your whole outlook might feel like you’re sitting in traffic, linearly fighting time. But if you declutter your time by starting with moving on from those waste-of-time thoughts, your time will expand, deepen, and be a much nicer ride.