By: Prianca Naik
It is quickly consumed by a voracious void when you are in a hurry. It stops when tragedy strikes. It disappears in the blink of an eye when your daughter suddenly graduates from high school and just yesterday it feels as though you brought her home from the hospital. It is warped, whacky, and wild. Time, that is. I began to pay close attention to said time after the birth of my son. First, I lived in four hour segments while nursing him at home. Then of course, time was nebulous as days turned into nights and nights into days. Soon, three months were gone and I was jolted back to work. Each day he would look older and cuter with a novel ability and suddenly, time became so precious.
I remember when my father and I got into an awful accident during which our 1992 Mazda MPV slipped on black ice in a Buffalo, New York blizzard and rolled over twice down into a ravine between two highways. As we skid into the ravine, my dad said, “Oh s#*t!” and time froze. I remember it stopped and, in that split second, I thought I was going to die. As we took the first circular tumble, time sped up again and after the second, we emerged upright and intact.
Like an X15 aircraft, time flies right by before you can even process its journey. This usually happens in the best or the more trying of times. Think about the last time you blew through several seasons of Game of Thrones in a matter of a day. Where did that day go? In contrast, maybe there is a rapidly approaching deadline for the complicated brief you have to submit to your senior partner who does not necessarily believe in you. You harrowingly chip away, take an instagram break, and it is now 5:18pm when you thought it was only 2:30.
Buddha pointed out that “the trouble is, you think you have time.” When I was young, I took time for granted as many of us do. I wanted to speed it up to be an adolescent and ride my bike to pick up hot fries or peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream from the local bodega a few blocks from my house. As a teenager, I could not wait to get out of the house and finally get to college. In college, I looked forward to turning twenty-one so I could join the seniors at the Landing where all the fun sorority and fraternity parties took place in St. Louis. And then I aspired to become doctor. Next of course came marriage, and then, the best part of all, my son! It was only when he came into my life that I finally wanted to slow down time.
Along with my desire to inhibit the progression of time came my aspiration of better managing it. I dove head first into Laura Vanderkam’s musings. She suggests tracking your time for one week. Well of course, putting my behaviors, schedule, and habits under a self-imposed microscope was anxiety-provoking. I thought about time tracking for a couple of weeks before I actually did.
To my surprise, I found that I was wasting much less time than I had presumed. However, to be fair, take into account that I knew I was under audit and perhaps on my best behavior. I also discovered that I worked less actual hours than I perceived which led me to the conclusion that I needed to spend less time planning my work day; because spending a disproportionate amount of time planning was clearly superfluous. Like Laura Vanderkam so astutely observes, time is flexible and will accommodate your needs. In fact, you probably have more time than you think. Be grateful for the time you do have, treat it like a loved one, and pay attention to it closely and see what you find.