Time

9 Months Later…

No.  Nobody is pregnant (which… actually is too bad in some ways.)  It’s been a long time since my last post, and a lot has happened.  I ended up having to stop my paid writing gig because I frankly couldn’t keep up with the deadlines in addition to my full-time job. Meanwhile, I bought a house, which any of you who are homeowners know is essentially a full-time job of its own… and it came with a number of expenses that I didn’t count on (despite my outlining a budget in advance.)  It was a serious financial struggle, but it’s gotten better and I’m slowly digging my way out.

There’s also been a total solar eclipse (which I was not able to make the totality for…) and more recently we were hit by Hurricane Irma.  It was a monster storm that I’m certain you saw on the news and it was impressively strong even when it hit Orlando.  With that said though, what we got was nothing compared to the coasts and the Caribbean before that.  Some in Irma’s path were literally destroyed, but in contrast, the worst experience we had was power loss.  That’s not to downplay the heat though, a lack of air conditioning on 90+ degree days (and nights!) will wear on you.  By night three (of six) the heat was draining, stifling, and had a major effect on our sleep quality.  Combine that with the fact my house gets running water from an electric pump in my well, and you can imagine it was an unpleasant week.  It also amounted to a lot of small, unexpected costs, but I have to say the Chinese take-out that was open when literally nothing else was (even Waffle House!) were the real MVPs.

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Irma was just a little rainstorm…

Socially… well… I don’t know.  I’m not isolated, I have some new friends, and I’m seeing more of people whom I’ve grown close to over many years.  But I’ve also lost some people.  Not specifically as a result of them outright leaving, but more a matter of my becoming a lower priority in their life.  I’ve mentioned before that it frustrates me when somebody speaks the world of you but doesn’t back those words up with action.  Eventually, you just have to face the fact that they simply don’t want to admit how little you mean to them now.  It’s not a matter of meanness or intention, more a matter of priority.  Some people aren’t as good at admitting they are selfish as I am.  Regardless, I’m not lonely, and I don’t think I’m going to be anytime soon… even if I still feel like finding “the one” is probably not realistic anymore.

Work and the house have been all-encompassing.  I’ve been (kinda) lazy and haven’t really done any sort of dedicated workout since I last posted. That is, until tonight when I decided to see if I could still push out a respectable 5k after not running for a year.  (Spoiler alert: I can.)  But I need to do a lot better.  My friend Leslie has returned from Japan and one of her first executive orders was signing us up for the Spartan Race come February.  For those not familiar it’s a 5k (roughly) but it’s 3+ miles of insane obstacles, so I’m going to need a lot more stamina than a 5k, especially if I’m going to help the others on my team.  It won’t hurt to tone up a bit either, my laziness hasn’t made me fat, but definitely fluffier than I prefer to be.

I’m going to re-apply myself here.  I’ll be house-sitting for my boss over the next two weeks, so I’ll have some time.  I’m in a place now where writing makes sense for sorting out my thoughts and sharing.  I also have an article I’ve been saving from my paid gig.  It was requested, but then decided it was too racy for our audience, so I asked the editors if I could publish it on my own site and was given the rights to it.  Check it out, I think you’ll find it pretty enlightening.  If all goes as planned I’ll have it posted tomorrow.  Until then, welcome back and thanks for reading.  Stay tuned…

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Stay tuned!

 

 

 

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The Value Of Time

When I begin this it was 11:47 PM Friday night and a hot cup of coffee sat in front of me.  I made the mistake of leaning back and dozed away close to ninety minutes.  Later, despite my best efforts, about halfway through writing this (I’ve update this intro,) I closed my eyes again and woke up to four AM.  It is now Tuesday…  As you can see the juggling act of my recent routine has been challenging.  My social life is picking up, many exciting plans have been made, and a number of friends from the past are resurfacing in my life.  On top of that, when I *do* get time at home to work on my (recently resurfaced) photography, play some video games, clean, or write… a log overdue blog post, my body immediately decides to instead use that time to shut down the moment I relax (as it did once again the last few nights…)

Generally speaking this is not a complaint.  The things that are occupying my time are all blessings, and very few professional situations in my recent past have been as respectful of my time as the one I have now.  However, this instantly falling asleep business is troublesome.  I have to watch my willpower, especially on days I run or work out (I’ve returned to consistency there as well) or reclining for a moment will lead to waking up several hours later with nothing to be done beyond returning to bed.  This and my extremely heavy calendar have had me thinking a lot about time.

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That took me three paragraphs to explain….

You’re fortunate, actually, that I ended up passing out, because what I had originally written here was a bunch of sleepy, semi-scientific and philosophical muttering about how time doesn’t actually exist and blah blah blah…  Instead I’m going to focus on the point:  No matter who you are, or where you come from, time is one of the most important concepts in your life.  Young or old, rich or poor, there is nothing we take for granted more than the ever-fleeting instrument we use to measure change, and we often forget that sometimes change doesn’t follow the routine, and your time might be up at any… time.

With that in mind, and as an Executive / Personal Assistant, the importance of prioritizing and managing my professional and personal time is absolutely key.  Professionally, I can compartmentalize and prioritize the large chunk of that time over my personal time. That’s the easy part.  But it’s not that simple either, because if I do that consistently as I have in the past, I will lose the balance that is kept in check by my social life and pursuing my own interests.  If said balance is lost, discontentment and eventual misery follow.  Fortunately in my my current position, my Executive is pretty respectful of my time and the stress level is relatively low.  This allows me the freedom to maintain that balance and pursue my interests… even if it’s a little slow and I have to fight to stay awake.  Admittedly my current (grown-up) priority of sleep probably isn’t helping, but I like to think I’m healthier and happier overall as a result.

Enough about my slow-progressing interests though, that’s only one important aspect of where my important time is spent and for the majority of my readers it probably doesn’t apply.  What should, and does apply for all of us though is in regards to our social time.  As I fight to maintain the balance I’ve elaborated above, I find that literally minutes of my time can be the difference between accomplishing something I wanted today, or not.  The easiest way to be most efficient with that would be to lock myself up in my cave of an apartment and just spend days or weeks (when not working) getting shit done.  Writing, processing photos, cleaning house, gym / running, and taking breaks to get into my sorely neglected MMO would all fall directly into place.  I have done that, and I like doing that, but no man is an island (as they say) and I admit that I get a greater sense of personal satisfaction from my interactions with friends, new and old.

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The Philosopher

Friendship and social life are complicated though.  For one, they can (certainly not always) get financially expensive.  But more importantly different levels of friendship require different levels of time investment.  Key here is that we all have to remember that this is a two-way street.  You know how invaluable your time is to you, so you have to assume it is just as invaluable to whomever is with you.  And they are choosing to spend that time with you.  That’s the core of what that phrase means; to spend time, because that time cannot be repaid.  Ideally, time spent should be an investment from which both parties receive something greater than the time invested. But sometimes (often) we suck at that because we don’t think about the value of everyone’s time.  It takes a level of awareness to think “Hey, this super busy person who could be doing any number of things right now is choosing to engage me instead.”

With all that said, it’s exhausting to even think about being aware of every waking moment of your life.  It is also not reasonable or even healthy to do so.  Relaxation is also time well spent, and if your brain is completely engaged at all times, you are not going to be able to relax.  As with all things there has to be a balance and I think with a few guidelines you can find that balance:

1. Recognize and appreciate time spent on/with you.  Don’t question whether or not you are “worth it” to them, that is their decision.  As long as you want it, accept it and appreciate it.  I think people can subconsciously tell when they are appreciated and you’ll find that your interactions are generally more positive as a result.

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In that moment, she realized the time had been wasted…

2. Only spend personal time on people when you want to.  Ideally the people you spend time with should help, relax, or somehow enrich your life while you do the same for them.  This isn’t just about romantic situations either, I’ve had a couple cups of coffee with old friends recently that were extremely worthwhile.  If you walk away from the interaction with a good memory, a revelation, feeling rejuvenated, or wearing a smile, I say that’s time well spent.

The flip-side of that is spending time with people because they tried to make you feel guilty, or you feel some level of obligation to them… and that should be avoided.  Perhaps if they have done you important favors in the past, you owe it to them to show up and repay the favor, but consolidate that to whatever is needed to appropriately repay them and then get out.  Beyond repayment of a personal debt, don’t let the issues of others cause you to spend time you don’t have or don’t want to give on them.  Doing so will only make you resent them and damage your existing relationship.  Just as people can sense when they are appreciated, often they can sense when they are not wanted.  Do yourself and them a favor, and be strong enough to say no when you don’t want to spend your valuable time.    

3. Minimize your professional time spent on someplace that tears you down or makes you feel “stuck”.  I realize (and have first-hand experience) that sometimes we have to do whatever we can to get by.  But that needs to be as temporary as possible.  My recent stint as an Uber driver was actually really fun at times, but on a deeper level it was having a profound effect on my general state of mind, my confidence, and my attitude.  The only thing that kept me hopeful was the search and development of new opportunities.  So, if you’re doing what you have to do, don’t quit the search for something better, even if takes months or years.

As far as the people go, work is obviously a little different, you’re investing time for money and sometimes people come with it, but you can minimize the time spent with them to whatever is absolutely necessary.

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Some of my “Me Time”

4. When planning your time, be certain to allow “me time”.  I said above that no person is an island.  Well the opposite is true too.  Even the most extroverted person needs time to themselves.  Hopefully you have people with whom you can pursue your mutual interests, but even if that’s the case, you will want time to yourself to think about how it benefits you in the long-term.  Your plan, your goals, your dreams.  Take time to put everything you are doing and want to do in perspective and make them happen.  Even those who are married or in a serious long-term relationship need time to themselves to process and figure everything out as individuals.  Once that’s in perspective, it’s much easier to share those things with our friends and family.

The point of all this is, nothing in this world is more valuable than the moments we are given.  It is up to us to make the most of those moments… actually it’s up to us to simply make those moments.  But it doesn’t need to be a constant labor, it’s more a matter of reminding yourself periodically to appreciate the time that others spend on you, and in turn make sure the people you’re spending your time on are worth it (including, of course, yourself!)  By doing this you can moderate/filter your busy life and make the most your moments.