My husband has a special gift. I think actually think half of the people in the world may have it: He can stretch time.
For me, time is very rigid. It comes in hour and minute blocks. There is only so much time, and activities take presumptuously the same amount every time. Eating: 10-20 minutes. Brushing teeth, 2 minutes. Showering and getting ready 25-35 minutes.
But somehow for Ryan, time is abundant. There’s always enough time. We always seem to arrive with “perfect timing!” even if we’re ten minutes late. Because actually, “perfect timing!” means that we arrived at the same time our friend showed up, or right as the food got there, or right when we could help someone bring in their luggage.
I think, that’s what relativity is, if I were to ask Einstein.
But in my mentality of there's-only-24-hours-in-a-day, I’ve found that there are several activities that truly expand my time. And so here they are: for my half of the population. :)
Exchange 20 minutes, Get 2 hours
Some kind of cardio exercise for 20 minutes to an hour gives you energy, enthusiasm, mental clarity that outlasts your time five times over. Here’s how:
- My sleep becomes deeper. So I wake up more immediate and vibrant. While it may take a week or two to adjust to tougher workout schedules, once the routine hits, you’ll find you won’t have to sleep as long or be tired throughout the day.
- My mind is clearer. The mental and emotional cleansing that comes from exercise is, almost supernatural, meaning I can’t explain it but it’s so real you can’t deny it. The process of shaking up your body shakes up the junk in your mind and releases it. You sort through relational problems, work challenges, and whatever else often in the short amount of time. When I need some creativity for work, I go for a walk or jog. Saves me time and energy sitting on my couch!
REVIEWING YOUR UPCOMING WEEK
Exchange 15 minutes, Get at least one evening extra
Okay, it does not matter if you are a minute-to-minute planner or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants operator. Sitting down for 15 minutes on Sunday to look at your upcoming week’s events will seriously transform your life. Whether you need to get a gift for a party, prep for a work deadline, or give extra love to a relationship: all of your inner-desires can come true during this Sunday forecast time with your iCal.
Some may just review dates and write down goals or tasks. Others may get out the three different calendars, sit with the family and align priorities.
Whatever extent it is, it’s worth your time.
I’ve spent 1-2 hours before, making my schedule crystal clear, because I knew I was to enter a hectic week, and I knew how to avoid all the panic, worry, and frustration ahead. Peace of mind for a whole week is almost priceless. And believe me, you'll find a few extra hours you didn't know you have if not whole evenings!
Exchange 10 minutes, Get at least 45 minutes
Not all prayer is stretchable, but there is a kind that can get you your minutes (and hours back). First of all, it’s not about rehearsed words or mumbling something before dinner. I find the best is going into a room without any distractions and getting quiet. Then actually using your mouth to share all the things on your mind or heart, all the worried concerns over your stability or happiness, all the wishes you’re working for, and any pain about others.
Getting it all out is only the first part. The second part is sitting and listening, being quiet, loving yourself, and listening for an answer. Sometime you hear it, sometimes you don’t. But either way, the practice of lifting your burdens is so powerful. Why?
Because it helps you to assume solutions. It also helps you stop what you are doing. Realize the doors you are pushing (shoving) that are not opening. And start paying attention to the open windows.
Post quiet time, you can usually have a quieter mind, a new solution to try out, and a positive outlook on life that gives you more joy and productivity.
Exchange 30 seconds regularly, Get open doors
This one is crazy because it’s hard to measure in time. But it's like the seeds you plant in spring that pop up in abundance in harvest. The more you do it, in every activity and opportunity you have, the more you'll see bend back toward you.
Don't wait til you need something to say thanks. It's too late then. Try 30 seconds every hour throughout the day.
To be honest, you don't even need to speak it aloud. Try coming into your office and say silently, ‘Thank you for providing me with a place to use my skills’ - it changes your mind and perspective on everything. When you look at your relationships and tell them ‘Thank you for being there for me.’ Over time, your job fulfills you more (even if it doesn’t seem like it should be very fulfilling), and you’ll find your relationships do even more of what you love.
It not only helps your perspective become rosy and open, but opportunities themselves will come to you. So, I don’t know how to measure it, but it’s a time saver over time!
WRITING YOUR THOUGHTS
Exchange 10 minutes, Get 2 hours back.
The craziest thing happened last year when I made a habit to write in my journal every day, even if it was just one sentence. When I had nothing to say I'd decide I'd just write out my schedule for the day. I didn’t think I had any worries or concerns, but as soon as I saw what I wrote, I could read through the lines, and I saw what was holding me back, what I was avoiding.
The power of journaling is that as soon as your thought are outside yourself, you can give advice like a good friend. You don’t get wrapped up as much in the issue itself. Honestly it became so much of a routine, when I missed it, I felt like I was missing time with an old friend.
Now when I find my mind getting fuzzy, I reach for the journal. It helps me get out the blocks stuffing up my mind. And allows me to reprioritize my thinking - which has saved me almost whole days of work. Sometimes I find the one thing I was working on for the day was unnecessary. I realized I needed to od something totally different. Lifesaver!
So try one of these out this week! See if you can adopt a new stretchable time habit. And see what the outcome is.
Do you have another stretchable habit that gives you more time and happiness? Please share!