The Quality vs Quantity of Time

Holy shit I only have three hours until I have to leave for work.

Sound familiar? That panic about all that needs to be done and could get done. Spending so much time thinking about what you should do that you’ve wasted 10 precious minutes of your morning or afternoon.

The knot in my stomach, the shallow breathing, the sitting around not really doing much of anything because I’m too paralyzed by my own over analysis of what to do and what can get done in 3 hours to do any of it.

There are the side hustles that we can hunker into, laundry to fold, potential yoga practices looming ahead, and also breakfast. What about taking time to write? Can I multi-task and paint my toes and let them dry while I punch out an article?

My to-do list is never ending, spread out amongst at least 5 different pieces of paper and notebooks, and often I try to just keep it in my head instead of a more reasonable place like my laptop notes. It’s overwhelming not in the sense of tasks, but just of always trying to prioritize. Of not numbing myself to the tasks that I still have to do that have been there for a while; it’s hard not to get used to waiting on something.

But in the midst of all this, these small timespans – that should be for relaxing, starting the day slow, finding the balance before going to work – start to become deadlines. If I start work at noon I have to get ready at 11:30, and give myself at least 3 minutes to bike to work. I have 2 hours and 16 minutes from writing this currently to fill time slots.

30 minutes of yoga + the 5 minutes to diddle daddle and set up : 35 mins
17 minutes to make breakfast and 7 minutes to eat it : 24 mins
13 minutes to write and 4 mins to edit the rest if this article : 17 mins
8 minutes to fold the rest of my laundry and 2 to put it away : 10 mins

This all takes an hour and 26 minutes so far.

So that means I can shower, meditate, do my morning pages, and maybe also enjoy a cup of tea.

I don’t as a rule plan my mornings out like this, because sometimes looking at how long things really take can be overwhelming. But in instances of 3 hours it really helps to give me a realistic idea so that I can do things. Knowing that I do have the time.

Often, my panic is what makes me unproductive. I get stuck in thought patterns and realms that send me reeling for 10 minutes and then getting back on track is challenging. I get too caught up in what I feel like doing or trying to remember what my list is instead of following my tried and true routines that make me feel good and productive for the rest of the day. I try to do too much to offset other days that I’m busy instead of just enjoying the time I have and end up being perpetually burnt out in some combo of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion.

It seems that life these days is busy in a way that is bigger than us. It is all encompassing in society and seeps into our personal lives and perceptions. The stress from not letting ourselves relax doesn’t end up making us more productive. We don’t need to speed up, we need to slow down. Bring quality back into our lives, instead of quantity – especially in our tasks.

Written by Forest Greenwell


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