Bending & Folding Time and Space In a Non-Physics Sort of Way Part 2

So in my last post, I explored some ways to save time that address the daily routines of life.  In this post, I'm going to look at other facets of life where I have re-oriented time to work for me.

I've talked about them before, but it needs to be reiterated.  Audiobooks are singularly an excellent means of reclaiming time.  This works on two levels.  The first is clearly that one is getting to read books, he or she wouldn't have otherwise been able to while engaged in sometime (e.g. chores).  Second, it exposes one to a potential wealth of knowledge that a person can use to inform one's life.  Many of the changes I have made to save time have been gleaned from the learning I experienced while listening to audiobooks and doing other things (commuting, chores, running errands).  While it can take some time to figure out what kind of listener you are (that is what genres, types of narrators, and what environments work best for you), it can open up much more opportunity to learn and explore things while otherwise engaged.

Coordinating Tasks

Many people make their "to-do" lists before leaving the house.  A key to any to-do list is to rank them according to distance.  If I'm going out on 4-5 errands, I spend the extra two minutes figuring out which one is closest to each next task so that I spend the least amount of time driving/walking/bicycling.  Without a doubt, I can save a half hour or more in strategically moving from place to place.

Synergy

However, it's more than that.  Aggressively integrating audiobooks into my life also represents one of the core features I've worked hard to instill in my life.  Synergy.  When I was in undergrad at Salem State, the history department chair was Dr. Dane Morrison.  I had known this word before him but would always associate this word with him after college.  Over the course of several years, I witnessed him give this speech to incoming history majors about making their life synergistic.  I had heard this before from my father--though he never used that word.  But ultimately, both him and Dr. Morrison advocated for finding ways to make life overlap.  This was a lesson I took to heart and still look to do today at ever vantage point.  Audiobooks best represent my attempt to apply continued learning and experience even when doing things that don't necessarily demand serious cognitive demand.  It's a means of reclaiming time.

Synergy for me has meant blending interests in ways that maximize outcomes and frees up other time.  A good example of this was when I was a lifeguard.  For my high school senior year and all through college, I was a lifeguard.  But I worked largely at pools that were 5 feet deep in the deep end that either were adults only (health clubs) or required adults to be present with each child (apartment complexes).  There were a great many hours when the pool was either unoccupied or minimally occupied.  This afforded me lots of hours to do reading, writing, and homework.  Even if I worked thirty hours a week, at least half of it was free time in which I got my school work finished.  This meant  with my free time, I didn't have to worry about my homework or getting caught up.  I was often ahead.  This followed suit in grad school where I began working overnight at residential programs.  I was being paid to stay up all night and to check on the residents regularly.  One way to keep me engaged or busy through the night was to always have homework to do for grad school--which there always was--and to get grading done for the classes I taught.  Again, while working overnights messed with my schedule, I also had more free time to readjust because my "work time" also coupled as my school time.
"Time is an illusion; lunchtime, doubly so."  Douglas Adams.
Choosing Time
My friends knock me for being notoriously early, especially if it requires commuting to places that are far away or require driving during busy traffic.  There's been a handful of conferences south of Boston (I live North of Boston) that I have attended in the last year.  Each would start around 8am or 9am.  This pretty much meant that I would get caught in slow moving, almost torturous (were it not for audiobooks in the car) stop-and-go traffic.  This sounds supremely wasteful of my time.  Instead, I usually opt to get up and out of the house by 5:30AM.  This puts me well on the other side of Boston before the first hint of traffic.  I may arrive early but this gives me the opportunity to find a coffee shop and do some work or read.  I sometimes even just go for a walk and enjoy the morning.  I'm able to relax, knowing I've made it to my destination and can reclaim time that I would have otherwise spent in driving.  That's the bigger lesson here is to look for opportunities wherein you can do the same thing in less time.          

Coupled with this is to always make sure wherever you go, you something to occupy free time.  I'm rarely without a book  or something to read (especially now with a smartphone and the Amazon Kindle app).  I usually have pen and pad (or just a note-taking app).  That is, I always prepared to entertain myself if there is foreseen (sitting in the doctor's office) or unforeseen gaps in the regularly scheduled program.

Time vs. Cost
For about a year and a half, I paid for cleaning services (from a great company, Green Clean Salem) in my apartment.  I did this because time was at a premium and it was cheaper for me to purchase these services than it would have been to do the cleaning myself.  Weighing time and cost isn't just about considering what you should pay someone to do something--it's about realizing how much time it would take you to do the same thing and the cost to you weighed against the cost and speed with which a professional could do the same thing.  In this instance, I chose the professional.

Time and cost are a tricky formula that often become an ongoing assessment.  I look at the different services I pay for (and those that I do myself) and am regularly asking "do I pay for that or do I do that?"  A good example is my usage of Netflix.  I've gone from high usage with three or more discs to only one disc--I supplement this with use of my library, requesting films from my Netflix DVD list (the ones you can't watch instantly).  Doing so has reduced my spending on Netflix and helped support my library system.  Equally useful is that I work next to my school's library, so the time is largely just the time it takes to request the DVD.

Saying Yes, Saying No
Time is the ultimate commodity that we trade.  That "time" comes in different forms--being physically present (say for a hug) or emotional present (to listen to someone--online, on the phone, or face to face) or doing something (for ourselves or others).  The biggest way to save time and give yourself more of it is to genuinely reflect about what you enjoy and what you don't, what you need to do and what you don't.  Don't waste time agreeing to things you don't want or need to do.  Learn to know yourself well enough to do those things that are of reasonable importance to you and shed the rest.  I'm not a sports fan and thus, do much to avoid going to sporting events, watching sports on TV, and engaging in sports talk with friends and colleagues.  Sure, it puts me out of conversations at times, but on the whole, it has given me more time to do the things I really enjoy...like write on this blog.



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