Time – Our Most Precious Commodity

25 Aug

wordle in color for the blog

Lately I’ve been feeling as though there simply isn’t enough time in the day.  Why can’t a day be twice as long?  Okay, yes I get the science behind “time” and that I can’t just change the fundamental structure of the universe.  But I’ve been finding myself in a predicament that its just not humanly possible to be in three places at one time, or answering more than 2 calls and an email all at the same exact same moment.

We’ve all heard the saying, “time is money… invest it wisely”.   I’ve always kept it there in the back of my mind.  And sure, I’ve gotten really busy at work or a major deadline is looming – and there that saying was in the back of my mind to keep me focused & on-point.  But never like it is today, or this week, or next week for that matter.  Lately it’s been like my life is set at overdrive and I have to keep the race car on the track and prevent it from crashing.  Yet, I’m completely challenged by the fact that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things required to keep the race car on the track.  You know what I mean… make the impossible somehow possible.  Most of us have been there at least once.

For those that can’t relate to the race car analogy.  It’s like I’ve been hit with Tsunami wave of stuff requiring my attention – and everyone wants answers & solutions now or 10 minutes ago.  Emails flow in at a rate of 1 per minute.  I’m on a conference call and by the time its over I have 3 voice mails from people that need to be called back, and 20 more emails that need to be answered.  And I’m already 10 minutes late to the next meeting.  The weekend comes… and well my mind is never “quiet” from work.  I need the weekend to think through challenges and come-up with solutions that I can make happen during the week.  Then there are those sacred vacations.  Yes, sacred vacations – when my mind finally goes quiet and starts to dream & live in the beauty of the moment.

I know that I am not the first person to find themselves in this place.  If we can’t figure out how to get more than 24 hours out of a day then how can we do all that we need to do and do it well?  At times, the information flows at a speed that I can’t even filter out whats important and what needs my most immediate attention.  Its not always this “bad”… there are those rare days, once every couple of months, that I can actually spend a whole day working on a paper or a project.  I treasure those days.  Its like a day of peace.  I love it.  On these days I can go for a run in the morning and not feel guilty about it.

In the midst of this major dilemma I am having over time – and my lack of ability to get more than 24 hours out of a day.  I’m finding a lot of my “time” is spent dealing with politics – navigating power & money hungry DC players.  I make my very best attempt to influence things in the background so that the right thing happens for the right reason with not direct benefit to myself personally.  Its a twisted battle of good versus evil, but in this little microcosm that defines my professional life.  Do I really have time for these battles?  No, but I try to pick and choose them wisely.  I’m not always wise though in these decision, I still have a lot to learn.

As I reflect on this conundrum on time, I think about the broader context of how finite time really is.  On Tuesday I felt the grumbling begin and then my office began to shake – it was an earthquake alright.  As I biked home that evening, I stopped at a red light in front of the World Bank building and the sound of their alerting system gave me goosebumps… the sound reverberated through the streets of downtown Washington DC, “There has been a region-wide earthquake, everyone must evacuate the building.”  The World Bank building did not collapse, but this moment meant so much more.  It reminded us (and me) about the fundamental limitations of time.  All this time we invest day-in and day-out in creating & building this “infrastructure”, or however you characterize the fruits of your labour, could somehow become completely meaningless history in a matter of seconds.

I’ve come to the conclusion that time truly is the most precious commodity.  And unlike other commodities, time is the one commodity that you can’t get more of.  I need more days of “peace”, where the information flow & task lists are manageable.  Where my professional life is balanced with my personal needs.  Guess that is my goal for the next 5 years of my life.

Color photo of a musician in Madrid, Spain

I wonder what advice this musician from Madrid would share about time?

One Response to “Time – Our Most Precious Commodity”

  1. Mummy August 25, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    Love this one 🙂 The musician would tell you ” Don’t worry, be happy”

    Love, Mummy

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