What If You Do Have Enough Time?
A February ritual: Let's spend 5 minutes acting as if we're not drowning.
Welcome to Making Time. Each week, I share thoughts and ideas for making more time for yourself by building creative energy and establishing rituals and practices. This year, I’m also attempting The 2024 Slowdown, which you can do with me. If you’d like to follow along, you can subscribe for free.
We tell ourselves a lot of stories. They aren’t always entirely fictional stories, but many of them are.
Some are useful narratives that help us get through the day, give us confidence, or make hard things a little easier. But others are just the way we’re conditioned by the outside world.
One such story that I frequently tell myself is this: “I don’t have time.”
The Story Loop
Now, that story certainly feels true. I often commit myself to more than I can reasonably handle, and my daily to do list pretty consistently stretches beyond my capacity. Evidence points to a lack of time.
But I find that the story of “I don’t have time” is almost a reflexive reaction. I fear not being able to do everything I want (which is a lot), and so that “I don’t have time” story is a way to protect myself from that fear.
Instead, what actually happens is that I start to rush. And rushing makes me feel more stressed. Feeling stressed makes me feel that time is even more scarce. I’m in a story loop, where stress reinforces a negative idea, leading to more stress.
So how do I break that cycle? How do I learn to stop rushing, to become less invested in the “I don’t have time” story?
That’s what February’s Slowdown ritual is all about.
February’s Ritual: Break the Loop
This month, I am going to take one small step towards questioning that story by spending just a few more minutes a day intentionally not rushing, multi-tasking, or being efficient in any way.
If you’d like to join me in this, here’s how:
Choose a daily activity. It could be brushing your teeth, showering, doing the dishes, or having a meal (I chose eating breakfast).
When you do this activity, pay attention to your five senses. Just observe the sights, sounds, smells, feel, and taste while you do it. It’s ok if you start thinking about other things, but bring it back to the sense when you notice yourself drifting.
No multi-tasking. If, like me, you normally read or work while eating solo, put that aside for the month and just focus on what you’re doing for these few minutes each day.
This is a very simple mindfulness practice and while it’s helpful for becoming more present, what I really love about it is that it forces me out of the story loop of time scarcity.
When I tell myself, “I don’t have time for this! I have work to do!”, I really have to question: Really? I don’t have five minutes to eat quietly? Is that true?
And once I do it, my mind has calmed enough that I recognize that, actually, it felt quite good to just enjoy my breakfast, to notice the swirls of milk in my oatmeal, to taste the slight bitterness of the walnuts, to admire the bowl of clementines in front of me on the table, to listen to my dog snoring.
If rushing is a problem for you, give this a try this month. See if the story changes at all for you.
I’ll check in again at the end of the month to report back and see how it went for you too. In the meantime, let me know if this is something you’d like to try, and what daily activity you’ll choose.