COLUMN: Worrying about time wasted energy

I try not to spend too much energy worrying about time.

I try not to spend too much energy worrying about time.

Seems an odd approach, for someone as deadline-oriented as I am, but regardless of what I’m doing, whether it’s work or play or volunteer, it’s a safe bet I don’t have enough time. So why worry about it?

I gave up wearing a watch shortly after I started working full-time in the news business because I was constantly checking it to see how much time I had left.

Would I get this story filed in time? Could I make it to my next assignment? Would I have enough time afterward to get the story written before deadline?

I was becoming a slave to my watch and it wasn’t pleasant.

Of course, unstrapping the watch from my wrist hardly freed me from the time constraints, and the prevalence of clocks everywhere – on walls, computers, phones – means that time is always looming.

The move was more symbolic than anything, but the physical removal of a timepiece served to free my mental space at least a little.

Time continues to rule my world.

At work, there are multiple deadlines every day at the News Bulletin and it’s crucial they’re all met. After work I’m typically rushing (I did mention there’s never enough time, right?) to one of several volunteer involvements, or if I’m lucky, to meet friends for a mountain bike ride.

Oddly enough, I’m rarely late for anything.

It’s a rare day indeed when the news department misses a deadline and when it comes to life outside of work, I’m punctual to the point of ridiculous.

That’s a trait inherited from my dad – for my high school graduation, he was suited up and ready to go while I was still lounging in pyjamas. He wound up puttering around outside the acreage, still in the suit, for a couple hours before it was finally time to leave.

Alas, I’ve come to accept that characteristic also.

And there’s good use for the few minutes spent waiting for others to arrive – it’s perfect for relaxing and refocusing on whatever is ahead.

Given my experience with the occasions I’ve actually been late, it’s a far better use of time.

Others might do well to at least try forcing themselves to get to their destinations early and see how it affects their productivity, performance and general outlook. Rather than squeezing time management, loosen it.

It works well for me, perhaps because I do my best work under a tight deadline, but perhaps also because giving myself more time on the front end of a project or meeting or bike ride enables me to be better prepared mentally from the get-go, meaning meeting the deadline isn’t as challenging.

It’s something to think about this weekend as we change our clocks back to Standard Time, at 2 a.m. Sunday (Nov. 6), which some people see as getting a bonus hour in their lives.

A recent Angus Reid poll asked people across the country what they would do with an extra hour each week. Roughly half of those surveyed indicated they’d do the expected – catch up on sleep, do household chores or errands, and spend time with family or friends.

Hardly a surprise in those results. That’s what I’d do too.

Interestingly though, the survey showed only five per cent would devote the extra hour to community service.

I find that particularly interesting because my community involvement dramatically increased in recent years and I’m reaping the rewards – a great new network of friends, a better sense of self and fulfillment in my life and, ironically, less stress about time constraints.

For me, the reality is that if you let go of the worry about time, you somehow find more of it available.