“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.”
“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s 5:38 and I was supposed to start writing at 5:30. Eight minutes may not seem like a lot, but if I only have 40 minutes, it is a huge amount of time. I’m really trying to change my life, but I can only do that but changing the way I use my time. Well, that’s not the only way. I also have to change my attitudes, my beliefs about my abilities and my belief in the possibility of my success.
Still, time management is crucial. That, along with my health, is my greatest resource. Here are some common sayings about time:
· Where did the time go?
· Time waits for no man.
I am amazed how much I can get done in the space of a few short minutes…or how little. It all depends on how I use those minutes. Staying focused is a huge struggle for me. I don’t think most people realize how much effort goes into just sitting here and writing and not looking at Facebook or playing a game or getting up to do something else that is not writing. Sometimes every sentence is an accomplishment for me because each one represents a tiny victory. My mind says, “You got that one written. Can you do the next one?”
Sometimes, because of my ADHD, a blog that should take only a half hour or less can take up to two hours. I have to fight my distractibility constantly. And, as I said, sometimes I have to fight it with each sentence. By the way, even inspiration is no help here. I still get sidetracked sometimes. The only thing, the only thing that works is to write each sentence, one at a time until I am done. Sometimes though, each sentence is torture. Well, no. Each sentence, as I said, is a victory. The torture is the constant, unrelenting temptation to be distracted.
The other day I was telling my class that some teachers believe that the most effective learning should be fun while other teachers believe it should be hard work, almost drudgery. The truth is that it is both. While I’m writing these very sentences, I am having fun. There’s a sense of power and strength in what I’m doing. I feel better about myself and about life in general. Order, self-control and discipline are created. At the same time, it’s a battle. I’m fighting to stay focused.
I’m fighting for my life.
I don’t mean to put too dramatic a spin on it, but that’s exactly what I’m doing when I begin my work. I’m fighting for my life. I’m not fighting for my mortality. That is not up to me. I’m fighting for my vitality, for my possibilities, for my meaning. I’m fighting to make the quality of my life better. I’m fighting for the right to look in the mirror and feel good about the person I see. I’m fighting for the ability to not feel inferior around others. Not managing my time has never been good for my self-esteem.
Throughout my grade school and middle school years, I constantly wasted time. This resulted in me not getting my homework done and this made my life hell on earth. I almost failed the 1st and 4th grades. When I was in 7th grade my stress levels were huge. I often couldn’t sleep. I would lie in bed and then with a jolt realize that I had work due the next day that I had known about for a week. I would pound the bed or shake or try to rock myself to sleep. What I wouldn’t do though was the simplest thing that would have eliminated all my stress and self-loathing: I wouldn’t get up and do my work.
This went on for day after day. I don’t remember what activities I did that I thought were more fun than doing my work. Whatever they were, they weren’t enjoyable enough to end my stress or self-esteem issues. All of my procrastination made my life miserable at home and at school. My only solace was comic books and one horrible day even those were taken from me.
This was easily one of the worst years of my life and it was completely preventable. Even at 12 years old, even with my extreme hyperactivity and immaturity, I knew that all I had to do was finish my work. When I had finally figured that out, it was after being punished, denied privileges and losing one of the few things that gave me happiness at that time.
The worst part of it is that penalties of any kind are rarely an effective inducement to change behavior. Even hating myself, which I did often, was not enough to help me grow. More effective is seeing the benefits of doing the work. But even that’s not always enough. Yes, momentum can be built when I see the results of a job well done, but what is really required for change and personal growth is always and only one thing: the decision to do what is necessary. And, as I’ve said, sometimes I have to make that decision with every single sentence and in every moment.
I have to literally Get Started and Keep Going with each moment. In this way, I honor God, the world, my family and friends, and myself with the gifts that have been entrusted to me.