“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” ~Henry David Thoreau
Last week my younger brother visited me for five days. To ensure I could spend as much time with as possible, I worked extra hard during the weekend before he arrived.
It amazed me to realize how much I could accomplish when I had a strong motivation to be efficient.
During the week, I put in a couple of hours in the mornings to handle pressing issues, and then spent the afternoons and evenings going out with him. Once again, I was surprised to realize just how much free time could be available to me if I consciously chose to be more effective while working.
This made me think of Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
I realized then that I’d given myself more time than necessary for work, and as a result, I ended up spending a lot of time procrastinating and entertaining myself online.
How might things change for me, I wondered, if I chose to commit to more social and recreational activities, made them priorities, and then once again had a strong motivation to finish work more quickly?
I realize not everyone has flexibility in their work schedules, but I suspect we could all create more time for ourselves if we had a strong incentive to cut out the choices that don’t align with our strongest desires and intentions.
Maybe it’s blog hopping, or zoning out in front of the TV, or my personal favorite, searching the web for things you may want to do. If there’s one thing that’s consumed my time the most, it’s researching how I actually want to spend it.
I believe what John Lennon said is true: Time that you enjoyed wasting was not wasted. And I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with using technology if we’ve consciously chosen to do it.
However, we owe it to ourselves to get out in the world and explore different possibilities—to be playful, to be curious, to be engaged, to be.
Perhaps it would be much easier to do that if we asked ourselves: How can I be more effective? What am I currently doing that I can minimize? And how can I start using the time I’ve created in a way that will excite and inspire me?
Photo by h.koppdelaney