Christmas Day, 1970.
My parents gave me my first watch. It was a Timex wristwatch and other than my baseball mitt, it was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen. It was life-changing. It had a wide, leather band. I put it on and held my wrist to my ear: tick…tick…tick…ooooh!
I used it to keep track of how long it took to drive to the store with my mom. I timed how fast I could run a block with my boots on in the snow (from Ellis Avenue to May Street). Oh yeah, I was fast! My Timex told me so. It told me how many minutes I had left before I had to start walking to school. We were inseparable until early summer when I had lost the watch. For months I kept thinking I remembered where it was and then run to check. Nope. Ah, but it was a beauty. The first of many and my introduction to the goodness of time.
Today I own 17 watches. None are extravagant. Each has its own sound. Some I can hear the movement only if I turn it over and put the caseback to my ear: tick…tick…tick…beautiful! Yeah, that sound of time moving ahead. Nothing can stop it. It’s mesmerizing.
I fell in love with time. We’ve remained good friends for over 48 years. That Christmas Day, Time and I made a pact. We decided we’d take care of one another. When I was sick or upset, the sound of Time passing from an old windup clock my dad had on a shelf in the living room kept my mind occupied. It’s steady, rhythmic sound put me to sleep during my worst nights. That clock didn’t “tick.” It spoke using two syllables: chick-it…chick-it…chick-it…aaaah. I’ve reciprocated our affection by complimenting Time, telling others to “have a good Time,” or by trying not to “waste” Time. I’ve spent a lot of Time learning to not be anxious about what Time it is. This is where the relationship has been, well, involved.
Balance is one of the great keys to happiness. I’ve gotten much better at finding Time to relax and not have to look at a clock. But I’ve remained relentless at being where I said I would be at the agreed upon Time. For years it was a cause for a lot of anxiety. But with proper preparation, getting there “on time” requires little effort these days. For those like me who enjoy being early (on Time) and find happiness in not having to rush to an event, rush to work, or to an appointment, I’m sure you’ve been relating to my connection to Time. For those who feel that Time is an enemy, hang on.
Does this sound like you?
- Friends give you fake start Times in order to get you there on Time?
- The family constantly reminds you to “not be late.”
- You hear yourself saying often “I don’t have Time.”
- Consistently feeling stressed while driving to “get there on Time.”
- You get angry because people “start without you.”
- When it’s Time to go, your family says your name often in frustration and with stretching syllables…SteeEEEEEeeeeve!
Dear People – it’s not Time, it’s you. I know Time. Time wants to be on your side. You have all the Time you need. Your flight leaves at 6:15pm. Your movie starts at 7:10pm. You said you’d pick up your date at 8:00pm. Coffee with your friends is at 7:30am. Time has been set. Now it’s up to you. Your use or misuse of Time says a lot about you. Let me help you get there on Time.
Practice setting your daily goals the day before. Before going to sleep, review tomorrows schedule. Preparation creates freedom. Write down anything you’ll need to remember for tomorrows meetings and travel. Write down (I use a notebook and pen) your goals for the next day. By reviewing your schedule and setting your daily goals the night before, when you wake up – through the haze of those first few morning moments – you’ll have confidence that you already know the direction you’re going.
Practice Doing It Now. Those thoughts when you “have to remember something” are for a reason. So when you have the thought – DO IT NOW! Every chance you get. It takes practice, but you’ll love to DO IT NOW after you see the growth in your relationship with Time. Remember, every chance you get. More…Before you go to sleep and after you’ve reviewed your schedule, stage your essentials- do it now! Car keys, coffee pot timer on, clothes (I have a clothes valet Wendy gave me for my birthday years ago. It’s fantastic! All my clothes for the next day are staged there.) 5-10 minutes of PM preparation time will help your relationship with Time in the AM.
Practice saying “No” to low-value ideas. You’ve likely heard this for the thousandth time. Because it’s true. Whether the idea is yours or someone else’s, if you get that sinking feeling, say “No.” It’s okay. Say No. It’s okay, take a deep breath. Time to change the old habit of saying Yes to too much. Practice. Right now! Repeat after me: “That sounds like fun. Maybe next time. I have to say no.” Now say this: “I’ll have to respectfully decline. You know I’d help if I could.” Time will thank you. You’ll have more of it and less stress and anxiousness.
Practice working counterclockwise. Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi said: “If you’re five minutes early, you’re already ten minutes late.” I prefer “If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re early, you’re right on time.” Regardless, here is the formula for less stress and getting there on Time.
- You must prepare. 1) know how many minutes it takes you to “get ready.” Shower, clothes, other prep. 2) Know how long it will take to get to the event. 3) will you have to find parking? 4) what other things have to happen from the Time you leave to when you arrive? Preparation is essential. The formula will not work without it.
- Begin with the Time you want to arrive (remember your arrival Time is NOT the scheduled start Time. Build in 10 minutes or more BEFORE the scheduled start Time.)
- Start Time (remember – YOUR start Time is 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start Time) minus parking Time (10min standard). Minus travel Time (include stops?) Minus preparation Time equals On Time!
EXAMPLE: I’m going to a baseball game in Grand Rapids. Ballgame begins at 1:10pm (I MUST be there for the first pitch!). This means MY start Time is 1:00pm. I want to be in my seat at 1:00pm. (Keep working backward). That means I’ll be parking the car at 12:50pm. It’s 30 minutes to the ballpark. That means I’ll need to leave home at 12:20pm but add 5 minutes extra for traffic. Now I’m leaving home at 12:15pm. I will need 45 minutes to shower and prepare. That means I start “getting ready” no later than 11:30am. Now run your formula clockwise to double check. Begin with – 11:30am get ready. Leave at 12:15pm. Arrive at the ballpark at 12:50pm. Park, enter stadium, find seat – 1:00pm. Enjoy the crowd, first pitch – 1:10pm. No stress. Yes, freedom.
Now try it for a project at work or something that needs a deadline at home. Once you’ve done 7-21 Times you’ll have it!
Dear People – Caring for Time is not just the right thing, it’s the only thing. Consult your bible. What you will find is the encouragement to take care of Time. You will find encouragement to get things done. Ephesians 5:16: Making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Colossians 4:5: Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. There are many.
I challenge you to find any scripture, or any self-improvement book or guide or any well respected motivational guru that says “it’s okay to ignore Time. Don’t worry about Time – it doesn’t matter.” “It’s okay to get things done late.” “It’s fine to not be there on Time.” “Don’t worry about keeping others waiting.” “Count on your family to make up early and false start times, Time is their problem, not yours.” “The stress of rushing from place to place and having to apologize for being late is good for you, it’s healthy.” Nope. You won’t find it. You won’t find anyone with a winning attitudes saying any of those things. Anywhere. Because they’re not true.
Take one more deep breath with me…because all of that is just for starters. You see, the use of Time to develop your talent, hone your skill, love people, earn a living, care for your children and your family is very important. You have a dream? What is your Timeframe for getting it done? You have a vision? What Time will you get started? Don’t make Time your enemy. Make procrastination and mediocrity your enemies. Take your dreams and use the formula above. Set the completion date, work counterclockwise the different steps involved until you are at TODAY. And start your clock for getting your dream done. Start the Time today.
Today you are ready to unlock a new freedom in your life. Practice starts today. It’s a process, it’s a process, it’s a process (~Moneyball 2011). And if I were you – I’d start with buying a watch. Tick…tick…tick…uh huh!
Here is a great song about my friend, Time: