Chasing the Minute Hand

Time flies, they say.

Does it? You had better believe it. They also say that it’s only when you’re having fun.

Does it? Nope.

There’s no rule that says you have to be having a good time and then look up at the clock and gasp. The story of my life is slogging through an algebra lesson and realizing that I’ve just wasted half the day. I always think, there has to be a better way to do this.

But wait, there is! It’s called time management.

Growing up, I had a mirror on the inside of my closet door. When my sister used to share my room, she had a paper taped to that mirror. On it were the following tips (minus my commentary) that she had copied from a book. Unfortunately, she can’t remember what book that was (sisters), but I would like to acknowledge that they are not mine. I’m only sharing what they mean to me and my experience on how to use them.

  1. Plan in detail ( achieve more).

-Use a planner. Write down every little thing you know you need to do, then put a check box beside it. I’ve found that checking just one box is very satisfying.

2. Deal with today. (“Number every day as your last day.” -St. Augustine)

  • What you are today is what you are becoming.
  • You are today what you have been becoming.
  • Every day is a little life, and our whole life is but a day repeated.

-Don’t worry yourself all the more by lying in bed counting all the things you have to do the next day. Instead, count the blessings you’ve had today. It gets the focus off yourself and your problems.

3. Value each minute.

-I’ll be on a mission to get something done. It could be as simple as cleaning house or researching something. Then I’ll stumble over a good book, or something online, that’s really interesting. It takes me a while to get bored of it, and when I am, I gasp when I see the clock. I’d think, “I just wasted twenty minutes! If I’d just gotten that thing done, I would’ve had more time later for something I actually wanted to do.

4. Keep moving.

-This is hardest to remember in the morning. In that moment after you silence the alarm and stumble out of bed all foggy-eyed, the first thing on your mind should be Don’t you dare sit down or close your eyes. That bed never looks more inviting, nor deceiving!

5. Develop a routine.

-Dad always used to emphasize this. But you’ve got to keep the routine simple, or it defeats the purpose of keeping you moving on the next thing. It takes way too long! Short and concise are the best for everything.

6. Use a timer for everything.

-I learned this first-hand growing up! That microwave timer was used dozens of times each day. Of course, this tip goes hand in hand with a lot of the ones I just mentioned. Every time you look at that clock or timer, you remember how much you need to hurry.

7. Ask the “half-the-time” question.

-This really never clicked in my mind until recently. It’s really very simple: Is there a better way to do this? Am I making this too complicated? Of course, this doesn’t mean you take shortcuts. The job should be thorough, even if it does take a while. But sometimes we overlook how simple something is when we’re sweating and puffing and pulling our hair out over something irrelevant or unimportant.

8. Do the worst first.

-It does help! No matter how much your innards don’t wanna pull out that calculus, or grade those papers, or clean out that car, once you get it done, the satisfaction you feel will power enough inertia to drive through everything else on that to-do list. If you really get dragged down, though, split it up into sections and keep coming back to it. That way, it won’t feel like such a big looming task.

9. Say no. 

-She said that party was a blast. But I just had to say no. If I hadn’t done ______ (fill in the blank)… it would have been waaaaay worse, but oooh – how it hurt.

10. Begin the night before.

-Yes, I know the feeling all too well. It’s the book on the bedside table or the movie coming out. But you know it can easily wait for another day or two until you can actually relax. It’s worth the sacrifice for every saved minute.

Try sticking the list of tips (not my commentaries!) on your mirror or fridge. I’m only beginning to remember them. It’s hard not to let time just pass you by, don’t get me wrong. But just try it for a while. If there’s a piece of advice I’ve missed, or something you found real helpful, let me know! I’m always game for feedback.

Look at that time! It’s just flown while I’ve been writing this post. You know the saying, time flies while you’re having fun. But don’t let it fly away from you – you’ll definitely regret it.

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4 thoughts on “Chasing the Minute Hand

  1. I am constantly trying to develop a routine. But I like your advice about keeping it simple, else it become to difficult to follow. I am notorious for trying to develop too many good habits at once! I also really like the comment “you are today what you have been becoming.” Good thoughts, I need to post this on my mirror.

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    1. In my case, most of the routines I have you could call “rituals.” I have a lot of things to wrap up before bed at night, and it gets pretty crazy! I have to either condense it, skip it, or go faster. Thanks for the feedback!

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  2. Excellent thoughts and commentary! I like to think of it in terms of a Sense of Urgency rather than just hurrying. Hurry can lead to mistakes that take more time in the long run.

    One extra tip I’ve learned (as one who values my hours in bed) is to do something that’s easy and enjoyable like reading a blog post or page of a book before getting out of bed. Even the often criticized habit of checking my phone will do. The goal is to give myself a pain free excuse to wake up. 5 or 10 minutes later, my brain is alert enough to make getting out of bed easier.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback! Although I’m not one for clichés, the saying “haste makes waste” goes hand in hand with your comment. If we try to get things done at a careless breakneck speed, we usually waste more time by going back to fix our mistakes. Thanks for your extra tip! Although in my case, reading a book in bed in the morning won’t be a good idea! 🙂

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