There’s No Real Rush

The inspiration for this post has come from the realization that I have not posted on here for almost 5 weeks! I cannot be a hypocrite and claim I “have not had the time,” since I have written a post on this very excuse. I will admit that I have had the time but 4AM has simply not been a priority. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit.

The past few weeks have been filled with various lessons and realizations from the events I had prioritized over writing for 4AM. The one lesson I had learned was in the area of patience.

I have had various job responsibilities over the past few weeks that made me feel like I was living extended work weeks. In reality, I had probably been putting in an average amount of work time, but something made this time feel more consuming and more stressful than previous weeks.

Have I had more tasks to accomplish? Yes. Have I been spending less time at home? Yes. But, were these the true culprits of my angst?

I concluded although things have been a bit busier for me in recent weeks, the tasks themselves have not been the cause of my anxieties. Conversely, I have been the cause, not the events themselves.

We all have times in our lives where some weeks are more chaotic than others, but how we perceive these events is truly what determines our emotional state, not the event itself.

For myself, I recognized that it was not the increase in tasks or the extra driving or the additional money required of me over the past few weeks. It was a problem of my own perception of expectation vs. reality.

I expected these tasks to move along quickly with little additional time, effort or money being spend in the interim. Instead, a transaction that I expected to be completed over the weekend, for example, took 3 weeks to finally see completion, with additional time, effort and money required along the way. Of course, this had been a great disappointment to me, since the reality of the situation did not come close to what I had been expecting all along. My constant dwelling on the frustration of having this transaction constantly delayed was the cause of this anxiety.

Now, was it the actual incomplete task that had caused this anxiety? Was it the parties involved that had caused me to feel a consistent urge to look at my phone and email in hopes we could get a response to close the transaction more quickly?

NOPE.

The only thing or person causing this anxiety was me. In theory, we all have the ability to respond to the urge to check phone or email, for example, but in the moment, such control had gone out the window and full submission to the impulse had commenced.

This inability to react and appropriately respond to these tasks then would lead to another anxiety about being on my phone around my family and loved ones, and the vicious cycle continues.

The big learning lesson here is preventing this cycle or being able to break it through a change in our behavior when reacting to a given event.

Big picture, I had been rushing myself to complete this transaction, when in reality, the nature of the situation would have taken 3 weeks regardless of the way I had responded to it. I could have waited an additional hour to check my phone and emails. I could have waiting for the next day to respond to an inquiry. I could have shut off my phone for an entire day, and this transaction would have taken 3 weeks.

This was a big learning lesson of patience for me. I had been so consumed with wanting to finish quickly as possible, I was distracted from what was really important to me. I realized no one is expecting an immediate response from me, as I would not expect from them. I realized trying to get things done quicker and expecting tasks to be moving faster will only result in anxious behavior.

I hope this lesson of patience will serve me going forward when responding to tasks and time management.

When you feel yourself becoming anxious about a task, do not blame the task itself, but question what the true cause of your anxiety is? The bad news is, it’s most likely you. But, the good news it, it’s most likely you. You have the power to react to your circumstance. Take responsibility so you can take control and change it.

 

 

 

It’s Not “Not Having the Time”; It’s “Not Being a Priority”

How many times do we exclaim, “I just don’t have the time!” However, what we really mean to say is “This is not a priority I am willing to make time for.” Whether or not it is for valid reason, we prioritize time for the things at the top of our list and as a result other tasks fall on the back burner.

A classic example is “I don’t have time to go to the gym.” Now, maybe you don’t because you have to work early in the morning, you have to be up for the baby after work, you have to go to work and work through your lunch break, etc. so it is impossible to get to the gym. Ok, of course these are valid excuses as to why you may not be able to go, but this really just means the gym is not a priority, not that you don’t have the time. You know you can make the time for a task such as this but you choose not to because you can make use of that time for a more important task. And, there should be nothing to feel bad about because of that!

By viewing this common exclamation in this perspective, it allows for us to reflect on the way we are using our time and if we are in fact using it for our top priorities or if we are using it to watch another season of Game of Thrones. Applying this perspective to our everyday can help us be more productive with our time.

A personal example I can think of for myself is “Not having the time to make cold calls for real estate leads” at my part-time job as an agent. It is something I say often, but is this really true?

Well, I wake up around 4:00-5:00 am on a typical day, go to the gym, do a morning routine, go to my 7am-5pm job, take a 30 minute lunch break in the day and get out at 5pm.

Though most of my day is occupied at my job, it is still not that I “don’t have the time,” it is because my job is currently taking priority over my need to cold calls. Furthermore, after work at 5pm, I have this time until about 8pm free to make cold calls. However, I also have friends and family I want to spend time with after work. So what is the priority? To make the calls or to spend time with family and friends? This is the type of question we are really asking ourselves when we claim we “don’t have time.”

Think about how you use your time throughout the day to improve the way you are prioritizing for tasks.

 

Ask yourself:

What is most important for me to make time for today?

The Meaning Regardless of Answer:

I need to make time for X, and at the cost of not making time for X.

 

Perhaps you can improve the way you are prioritizing time, or maybe you can simply accept that you are using your time for priorities, but just inevitable at the expense of another non-priority task.

Not Sweating the Small Stuff

“The attention you give to action should be proportionate to its worth”- Marcus Aurelius

As we spin our wheels throughout the day, we can become overwhelmed by life in general. We rush to work, rush to school, and rush to make it to the post office before it closes. How much does all of this running around and energy spent on these worries mean at the end of the day? Did it mean you were going to lose your job if you were 5 minutes late? Did it mean you would flunk class if you missed the beginning part of a lecture? And would the post office not open again tomorrow or the next day or the next?

How much time do we spend on tasks that truly do not matter? And, furthermore, how much worrying do we do when we do not complete these tasks with perfection?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Think about what is truly important to you in life. Then think about how much attention you give to these important things or people relative to the attention you give to trivial annoyances or tasks.

“The attention you give to action should be proportionate to its worth.” Marcus Aurelius is encouraging us to stop for a minute and observe our actions. I do not think that Marcus Aurelius is telling us to necessarily quit giving time to the tasks we do not enjoy doing, otherwise, many of us would no longer have a job and some of us may never shower again. Ew…

Anyway, what I believe Marcus Aurelius is trying to convey here is the importance of prioritization. There will always be tasks and jobs we do not wish to give time and attention to but it is our obligation. Still, the time and energy spent on these tasks should be lesser relative to the attention we give to what we define to be most important to us in life.

In my life, I can become frustrated with having the wrong size shoes delivered, having 18 of the 20 cold calls go to voicemail, or being stuck in traffic when I am already running late. Events I am sure all of us can relate to being consumed by in one why or another.

However, these small frustrations are worthless in the grand scheme of what is important to me in life. Big picture, do they get in the way of my family, my health and my relationships with my partner and friends? Possibly at a given time, but not in the long-run. Soooo, why sweat it? The reality is that you can return the shoes and get your money back, people will eventually pick up the phone and you will ultimately get to where you need to be even if it is late.

We are reminded that time is our only non-renewable resource, so why choose to spend it so frivolously?

Focus on the three things that are most important to you in life. What can you do differently to spend more time on what is important and less time on that of lesser importance?

Stop for a moment when you observe a feeling of worry. Then ask, why am I worried? And, finally, ask yourself, how important is this worry in my life? If this angst is not regarding the three things you listed to be most important in your life, FORGET IT. It is not worth it to sweat the small stuff.