Busy is my new four-letter word

im-wasting-time-thinking-about-much-much-time-ive-wasted

I deserve a sticker, dammit. I actually finished a chapter without anyone holding that big carrot of a deadline in front of me. My goal to finish a chapter a month has been accelerated due to a variety of things, so no time for dilly dallying.

The thing is that I’ve started to recognize that I’m a time-waster. Hugely. When I actually take a look at how long it took me to write that last chapter, it was probably only about 15-20 hours. I read this article today in the New York Times by a woman who writes books about time management and how she logged her actual time – sleep, work, leisure, etc. Of course, my first thought is, “where did she find time to log her hours?”

By logging her life, she concludes that “busy people” lie to themselves (and others) a lot. She would tell people that she worked 50 or so hours a week, but the log showed that in reality she worked only 37 hours. We all do this. As I wrote about earlier we like to be perceived as busier than everyone else. It’s ennobling and makes a great excuse for not doing anything else, or for not connecting with people, or being present in the lives of others. Or maybe it’s just bragging – we are a seriously messed up species.

But the simple fact is that we aren’t nearly as “busy” as we think and say we are. A typical writing day for me involves a two-hour walk with my dog first. Then I drive to my writing space, make tea, have lunch, look out the window, pour some more tea, read the previous day’s work, re-read some research, and then write about 200-300 words. Time for a break! I’ll play some Scrabble games, check out Facebook, text a few people, maybe do some yoga. Back to work! I’ll write another 300 or so words. Geez! It’s 4 p.m. Better get home and get dinner started. And this, my friends, is why it took me a month to write 6,000 words.

So, I’m going to take a good, hard look at how I spend my days. Maybe not “log” everything, I mean who has time for that? Ammiright? 😉  But at least pay attention to the time I’m wasting. Life’s short and there are books to be written, friends to visit, family to connect with, and things to experience. By creating a narrative for your life that you’re too busy, you only succeed in convincing yourself that you really are too busy, effectively depriving only you of moments that might make this whole circus worth getting up for. Now, back to work.

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