My action partner started our call bemoaning time management. She’s not a complainer, so I took note of her angst around the issue.

I blurted out sympathetically, “Time management is a muscle, not a gift!”

Only because she paused the conversation, and thanked me for saying that, did I realize its value.

No one is born managing their 24 hours. If you’re good at it, it’s because you’ve spent time figuring out what works for you, found systems that support your punctuality, implemented them (this is key!) and been rewarded for your blossoming skill set: early birds get their choice of worms.

I started taking time management courses in the 80’s, learned how to block out my days, invested in tracking devices, and began choosing how to spend this limited resource we’re all given in equal shares. I built in time for meditation, family, fun, as well as meetings, planning time, and nose-to-the-grindstone hours. Everything was there in writing – before google calendar was invented – and It worked.

Make sure you fit in your three most important tasks (rocks) into your day. The smaller rocks, pebbles, sand and water can all fit in around them.

There were memorable quotes – “Do the worst first” — and visuals – Stephen Covey’s three rocks in a clear cylinder – to remind me when I’d slip up. Saving an important writing task till the end of the day rarely worked. Mark Twain said, “If you have to eat a lot of frogs, start with the biggest one.”

Later in our conversation I mentioned how annoyed I was that my food order, scheduled to arrive between 2-5pm, had not arrived within that timeframe. Rather, Fresh Direct sent a robocall at 5:10pm saying it would arrive in the next 60 minutes. At 6:20pm I cancelled the order. I wasn’t desperate, and knew I could pick up the most needed items at markets nearby. I related to my action partner that waiting beyond a designated time slot “does something inside me I don’t like.” It’s the feeling of being out of control that I work hard to avoid. Others find that coming into an empty room because they’re early is intolerable. This is deep stuff, and there’s surely a good reason I’m so uncomfortable and distressed when I have to wait.

A walking buddy of mine described it as having a door between you and “them,” with the doorknob is on their side. Is anyone OK with that?

Anyhoo…Given today’s milieu of minimal traffic and opened schedules, getting to a zoom meeting, a phone appointment or a socially-distanced walk in the park, there are rare excuses for not being there when you said you would. What have you noticed about you and time during the quarantine?

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