Time and Presence
Do you know this feeling that the day is just racing by? You only want to do something very quickly and suddenly an eternity has passed…?
I know this feeling quite well. Up to now, I experienced it mostly when I did not feel like getting started with what had been scheduled for the day. For example, when I needed to go shopping real urgently but did not want to go out into the rain and, then I first worked on other things, instead. And suddenly it was short before closing time (in Germany the shops are closing usually at 8 PM) and the day was over.
In most cases it was not that I, for example, did some unimportant stuff instead of the shopping. I just brought forward other important things, first, so that I did not have to get out in the rain, immediately. And as a matter of fact those things should not have needed as much time as a whole day. It was as if a time eater would sit on my shoulder and eat up all of my time.
I thought that was strange and so I took a closer look into that phenomenon and started to observe myself in the relevant situations.
And I found something remarkable. The time eater always showed up when I was not completely in the Now. In the case of not-wanting-to-shop, example given, it was that I did turn towards other important things, first, but I did not pay my full attention to them. Instead, I thought about how to finally motivate myself for going shopping, all the time. My thoughts have been in the future instead of the Now, the present. Incidentally, the time eater also showed up when my thoughts have been in the past while I took care of my day’s work.
Then I experimented. I reminded myself over and over, again, to stay present with all that I did. – I first want to write the article before I clean the bathroom (or the other way round)? Fine. Then I keep my attention with the article as long as I am actually writing it and then turn my full attention towards the bathroom. I first want to answer my e-mails before I step out into the rain to go shopping? Fine. Then I keep my attention with the e-mails until I am ready for going shopping. And only then I turn my full attention to going shopping.
And suddenly I noticed some deceleration. Time slowed down to a comfortable pace and I could take care of everything that was scheduled, peacefully.
Until now I thought this insight is only referring to things that are to-do. But this week I realized that it is also referring to not-doing. This week I have such a phase when a whole lot of energy is streaming in and wants to be integrated. Then I often feel tired and need a lot of rest and breathing space. But at the start of the week I absolutely wanted to take care of a few things. So I sat down at the computer and said:
“Well, I may see how far I get. And when I get too tired I simply kick back.”
Alright, I eventually worked myself into that mode when you simply continue although you are much too tired and could work much more effectively after a little nap. But I was afraid that I would not be able to pick myself up, again, afterwards. So I simply continued to work. And suddenly the whole day was gone even though – according to the amount of work – it should not have been more than half a day.
The time eater was back!
At a closer look it became clear to me that I had been tired all the time. – It was this kind of tiredness that makes it hard to think and simply lets your eyes fall shut after a while. So I had not been present at all. If I had been, I would have allowed myself a little nap.
On the next day I took this insight to my heart. I still had to deal with this tiredness. So, in spite of being afraid of not getting everything done I allowed myself to sleep or to rest whenever I felt like it. When I did I actually have been gone very deeply, every time, for a half hour or so. But it felt much longer and replenishing, too. And in effect I got much more done on that day than even on a “normal” work day.
That makes me think about how unhealthy our working system often is structured, sometimes. Most of the time, as an employee you cannot allow yourself a midday nap and breathing space, even though it actually leads to doing the work more effectively – as well as to healthy manpower.
Do you know what I finally found out for myself?
In the present there is no time eater. As long as I am present I have all the time that I need and can always take care of everything peacefully. Only when my thoughts or feelings are in the future for too long (for example, because I am worrying) or in the past (for example because I am ashamed of something) the time eater is coming and reminds me that my power is Now, in the present and that this is where I belong.
How about you? Did you encounter a time eater, also? How are you dealing with such situations? Maybe you have a tip that you would like to share, here, with us?