Time Time Time . . .

September 13, 2023

Time, time, time
See what’s become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around
Leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

— Simon & Garfunkel (but I prefer the Bangles version #childofthe80s)

Lot of focus on TIME lately! And this has always been an interest of mine, so that’s fine with me. I started reading Jenny Odell’s Saving Time which is a more conceptual look, with emphasis on how humans have developed their own constructs and ideas around time vs nature’s unrelenting but much larger time scale.

Kae, Sarah, and Laura ( <– who I would consider a time expert) all made me think about time just as I was about to write this post.

Kae today (post link above) wrote about what she would do with unlimited time. One MAJOR theme was that she wanted to do things (hobbies, organizing, celebrating holidays etc) in a calm, non-rushed manner.

Kae and I are clearly a lot alike because . . . SAME. But I think neither of us are particularly willing to give up things on our schedules that prevent “slow and calm” leisure from happening very often! I absolutely adore the idea of anything slow and calm but in reality tend to fill up my calendar with . . . . stuff that feels important to me. Don’t get me wrong – I LIKE the stuff on there. Some of it is actually really fun! But slow and calm just does not describe my current experience of time.

That said, I generally don’t feel horribly rushed when I am going from activity to activity. I don’t feel rushed on my runs, for example. I don’t feel too rushed right now, even! So maybe I just need to pay more attention to how I am feeling while I am doing the things that feel important and less attention to what just really doesn’t fit.

(Also a fascinating question of what I would do with more ‘extra’ time. I did recently kind of want to play violin again after seeing someone play but I suspect I’d just work out more and try to write / create more. Yoga would be nice too. I would spend some more organizing. Also journaling and baking! Oh, and a weekly massage if this extra time came with an unlimited budget.)

Sarah talked about her mornings and I just about died when I saw she used PRECIOUS ALONE MORNING MINUTES to wipe down every bathroom. I am not knocking her – it clearly works for her, and I only feel a little bit self-conscious about the state of our sinks! This just literally never would have occurred to me. My morning time is totally selfish: I use it to read, do Headspace (just 5-10 min), plan the day, drink coffee (with collagen in it because this is something I do now), eat some carbs, and then usually run — lately for ~90 min or so.

(I get home at 7 drenched in sweat and am dressed/showered by 7:40 out the door with the kids. Josh helps a lot with getting them breakfast! But definitely no cleaning time in there.)

Anyway, this just fascinated me because I guess I had rigid notions about what early morning time is for and cleaning was just not on that list but so interesting to see it on someone else’s!

Laura has been running her time tracking challenge this week. Here is my detailed log for yesterday:

LOLOL yes, this was a full on time tracking FAIL!!!! Oops. At least I took good notes in my marathon nutrition course (was able to watch this while at work on my lunch break – yay!). I can tell you I answered a lot of work calls and picked A/G up from gymnastics at 7:25 but not much else. Today’s tracking is going better though:

And I DO like seeing what I am doing. But if you find the practice difficult know you are not alone. Kae recommended an alarm but I hate interruptions and I know I would hate that one too! I’d probably get indignant every time my own alarm went off and ignore it anyway (esp if I was running, in a patient room, putting a kid to bed, on a phone call, etc — at the time).

I have no grand conclusion about time in this post — I will leave those to Laura and Jenny! But all very interesting to think about.

Who else finds time tracking hard?

How rushed do you feel? I feel rushed getting the kids (and myself) out the door in the morning because it actually does matter (commute is much smoother and less stressful leaving at ~7:37 vs 7:45 for various reasons) but am not willing to shorten workout or sleep time so have accepted it. My other peak rush time is Sunday evenings – the list of things I want to do to prep for the week isn’t always so long but it can still sometimes feel like more than it is. Or maybe I just run out of energy for the week.


  • Reply Gina September 13, 2023 at 3:36 pm

    I know you already read/think a lot about time, but I thought this podcast from The Happiness Lab was interesting about “time famine”:

  • Reply Alyce September 13, 2023 at 5:53 pm

    One of the most luxurious things in life is not being in a rush while driving someplace. It always feels like such a treat.

  • Reply Ginna September 13, 2023 at 8:41 pm

    Hi Sarah! In regards to time… have you ever heard of The Minimal Mom on YouTube? She talks mostly about decluttering, but put out a video a few months ago called “The Myth of Being Behind” and it has quite literally changed my whole perspective on my to do list, planning, and feelings of my performance. I think you will enjoy it. I don’t know if she says it in this video or not, but has mentioned the phrase “it takes what it takes” and that little mantra has really helped me when I feel frustrated at my progress or someone else’s. I hope this helps!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns September 13, 2023 at 9:46 pm

    I only track my time once/year and I do it in excel and use kind of broad categories so I can use sumif formulas to analyze my time. So I don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. I want a general idea of how I track my time but it’s not super granular/accurate.

    I pretty much always feel rushed. Work is super busy and then at home I am rushing to get a workout in before taking the boys to the library or farmers market, etc. I feel like I will have this rushed feeling for quite sometime… I really hope things quiet down a bit at work so I don’t feel like I am being run ragged!

  • Reply Coree September 14, 2023 at 5:27 am

    I think I’m decently regimented but also reliant on public transport, so I need to be decently chill about train delays/a missed bus, etc. I leave a bit earlier than necessary, so I don’t need to feel super rushed, and my schedule can accomodate 1 cancelled train, but not two. It’s harder on teaching days but hopefully the schedule works.

    People moan so much about delays but it’s just part of life and grumbling isn’t going to make the train go faster?

    I try not to rush about too much – I’m often on my bike/pedestrian and I feel like whenever I’m hurrying too much, I’m more likely to slip or have a close call? We’ve been waking T up a bit earlier (setting an alarm clock in his room) and it has reduced morning rushing a bit.

    • Reply KGC September 14, 2023 at 11:39 am

      It’s funny – delays out of my control (school bus, in my current life) don’t bother me because I agree – they’re just a part of life and complaining about them doesn’t do anything! But delays that I feel like I could or should control (getting out the door, packing up kid backpacks, etc) make me BANANAS and I hate how it feels. Pre-kid I was always early and it feels like that power has been snatched away! It is slowly getting better as my kids are getting older and need less oversight in getting themselves ready but I think we are still a year or two away from truly not feeling rushed.

  • Reply Jen September 14, 2023 at 6:31 am

    I felt very rushed all the time until my youngest was ~5. Then, the kids could be told to leave me alone while I finish a workout/read/make dinner etc. Before that, I could tell them but it didn’t really work.

  • Reply Grateful Kae September 14, 2023 at 9:55 am

    I guess I should clarify, it’s not exactly that I “always” feel rushed all the time really, either. It’s more of just this underlying sense that I have too many things competing for my time. I also feel that there are too many times when I try to sort of squeeze something into a probably too small window, which feels very different than if I am able to PLAN dedicated time for something. (e.g. I want to stop to buy some fall mums for my yard. But instead of having a big chunk of time for this to leisurely browse the options, I may opt to just swing past the garden center in the 10 minutes I have between soccer and driving somewhere else. I mean, I get the mums, I get it done, and it made sense to use that time if I was nearby anyway, etc. And it’s not THAT important to me to really prioritize it. But it just generally probably feels a little less pleasant this way than an alternative method.)

    I certainly can, and do, schedule things such that I won’t feel so rushed, but again, because my life is kind of “over full”, or at least it seems to be, there are just only so many slots that things can really go. Especially since a lot of my time is not fully in my control at this point (e.g. need to do a lot of driving kids, dealing with things for other people, or currently, having social plans/ family plans sort of thrust upon me in a way that I can’t fully control…). Taking more time for one thing inevitably means less time for something else.

    So using the mum example, yes, I could carve out a whole hour to browse the garden center. But I still HAVE to work and I still HAVE to drive to soccer and swim, so if I spend an hour at the garden center, well, then I’m probably not getting to the gym that afternoon too. Etc. I think if I had “nothing but time”, in my fantasy world, I wouldn’t have to make so many choices and trade-offs.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 14, 2023 at 10:19 am

      Totally get it! I thought it was a really fun and interesting thought experiment!

    • Reply omdg September 14, 2023 at 1:10 pm

      Yes, totally. For instance I was causing myself all this agita because I wanted to work out this morning, but between a 6:45 am meeting (ugh sometimes I wonder about my chosen profession) and a 9 am doctor’s appt, it really wasn’t going to happen unless I got up at 5. Which… I wanted to have a productive day with a rested brain, so I really needed the extra 90 min of sleep. Ultimately I just decided that a “real” workout wasn’t going to happen, and I’ll just go for a walk at 6 tonight hopefully with the dog and husband, and that will be nice too. Oh yes, and to make that happen, we will be skipping curriculum night (which I have literally never found useful in any way). Letting go can be really hard though.

  • Reply Kristie September 14, 2023 at 9:59 am

    The Google sheets version of Laura’s time tracker has worked well for me. I open it when I pull out my phone and update what happened in the last hour or so. I haven’t time tracked consistently before, and I’m interested to see what I learn this week. I’m not getting up as early as I usually do (I’m in the 4:30 wake up club, too!) since I’m recovering from a race, but I found I’ve stayed up later and haven’t gotten all of the extra sleep I want/need. Hopefully that awareness will led to action the rest of the week!

  • Reply Daria September 16, 2023 at 7:44 am

    I do not feel rushed even on my busiest days. Maybe that is why I wake up at 4am… To have that time to myself. Even last week when my partner was away on business, and I was alone with two small kids, I felt like I did not rush. We were out of the door at a good time, even with a few “buffer” minutes to look up at morning sky and make funny faces with dried apricots and blueberries. Again, that is probably because I am up at 4 and down by 8pm.
    I detest the feeling of hurry and will do anything to avoid it. Usually that means preparing beforehand.

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