Last Monday (July 10), I started my brand new full-time job! Yes, it’s true! I’m now the Operations Manager for Alluvium, a industrial software company (that’s the short version). I’m very excited because I still get to work remotely, but if I’m ever in the NYC area, as I’ve been for the last month, I’m able to work from my office. Pretty sweet gig overall.
So for my first day, besides getting to visit the World Trade Center Observation Deck, I also rode the train into Brooklyn to work at the office (we’ve actually already moved our office to Manhattan, but that’s a different story). In the afternoon, on my way back out of Brooklyn into Grand Central Station, as I sat in the subway, I noticed a unique-looking ad (pictured above). It’s for a mattress company (I think), but each panel depicted a drawn busy scene (he one above is a city). In the panel above, “Find More Hours in the Day” is sketched on a banner.
My first instinct was to roll my eyes–I disdain the whole “do more” lifestyle where people try to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their day and try to hack life. As a recovering perfectionist and someone who literally has to work hard to keep life feeling “balanced,” this type of thinking is red flag territory for me. I’ve burnt myself out on that lifestyle before and I take a more nuanced approach to life these days.
But the message resonated with me so I started thinking about “Find More Hours in the Day” in another way. What if by paying attention and being present in my life… in our lives, we could literally find more hours in the day?
What if we started paying attention to…
- Those countless minutes and uncounted hours spent endlessly scrolling on phones
- The time spent watching TV mindlessly
- The effort we expend to dislike/think bad thoughts about other people
- The mental energy we waste actively avoiding the little things that just need to be done
What if we each took back all the time we spend each day doing theses things–how many more hours could we find?
When I started thinking about it in this way–hey it was a 40 minute subway ride!–I realized that we each could find at least a couple more hours in each day, minimum. Instead of filling the “empty” hours of our days with mindless activities, what if we became more deliberate in what we did, said, and thought?
Then, what if we kept paying attention all day and all night long? Would we find things we don’t like or are scared of? Probably, but in rooting out and dealing with those issues, we can find even more time in our days. We can find more peace and energy, eventually, too, by honing our attention.
The key here, to all of this, is not being frightened of the silence and the empty time. It’s one of those things that can build character and internal strength. Believe it or not, we’re each better off spending five minutes sitting in silence, being present, than spending five minutes “educating” ourselves on the latest crisis du jour. Not that we don’t have real problems all around us, but getting swept up in the breathless whirlwind does most of us more harm than good each day.
BALANCE. That’s the key. MODERATION. An admirable goal. PAYING ATTENTION. Oh yeah, you got it–crucial!
So how can we each find more hours in the day? I say by paying attention and being present. That’s how Jeremy and I have been living these days, and it’s not always easy in the short term, but it always has paid off big time in the medium to longer term for us. We’re both happier and doing better than we ever have been before. We chalk that up, most of all, to being mindful and present in our lives.