I recently talked about Killing Time Thieves but today I became aware of another time thief: pre-wasting time.
I worked on a couple of projects this morning, then ran on the treadmill for 25 minutes. When I got out of the shower, I found myself thinking 'by the time I eat a late lunch and watch Neighbours, it's going to be 3:30pm. That's pretty much the whole day gone.' But wait — I don't go to bed until 10:30pm at the earliest. That's 7 hours — longer than I had been awake!
I was ready to write off the whole day before it was half over. I was pre-wasting time.
Sure, it's harder to concentrate when my parents and brother come home from work. But it also means there are other people to keep an eye on my very naughty puppy. There's no reason why I shouldn't get things done in the evenings, especially as I'm often more alert, yet I tend not to plan my work for the evenings.
Perhaps it's just laziness, but I think it's more complicated. When scheduling work, it's easier to imagine filling the long, blank spaces in your day — even with lots of things — than it is to imagine getting work done in the gap between walking the dogs and cooking dinner. Yet this time is just as valuable as time during the day,
I find it easier when I have deadlines to meet; I grab all the time I can, even if it's 10 minutes here and there. I know from experience that using chunks of time in the evening can be productive, yet I only think of using it when I'm under pressure. I could create pressure by Powering Through, but I need a longer term solution. I need to change my attitude.
Pre-wasting time can lead to more than a lost evening of work: how many of us write off goals because we think we'll never achieve them or it's too late in our lives? I used to think I was too old to go to university — at the grand old age of 22! In my defence, I was very depressed at the time. I was also very wrong.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that although life is short, there's plenty of time left. Mindfulness is a great aid for reminding yourself to live in the moment. I've been dabbling with it for a while now and saw this great post today, which has mindfulness exercises that are easy for anyone to use.
So whether you're in danger of pre-wasting your day, your week or the rest of your life — stop!
You have time and how you use it is up to you. You may not see how you can achieve your goals in the hour between the kids going to bed and the 10 o' clock news, but you can. By the way, I went to university at 24 and loved it so much that I stayed on to do my MA — and I wasn't the oldest on either of my courses. As for tonight... I have a story that needs drafting and some reading to do and some organising I'd like to complete — wish me luck!