On a recent business trip, I noticed something while waiting to de-plane. Several people were doing this and I’m surprised that I didn’t notice this before now. Several people were constantly checking their watches. Checking the time. I couldn’t help but think “Why?” What is the value in doing this ? Things aren’t going to happen any faster if you are checking your watch every 5 seconds. The world won’t speed up just because you need to be off the plane and doing something different.
I know we all have places to see, things to do, people to meet, etc… I get it ! However, if you look at your watch and know what time it is… then what is the value in checking your watch within the next 10-30 seconds. Ok, I’ll admit this is likely a nervous behaviour, and one that I’ve likely displayed from time to time. So going back to the airport/plane situation, usually the delays that are completely out of your control or out of the control of the person immediately beside you. And trust me… getting upset about it; that’ll just net you nothing. Actually that’s incorrect getting upset about it will likely get you ridiculed. Well, maybe not openly, but certainly later after you get off the plane…. but I digress.
So what is the value of checking your watch several times within the same minute. I know that I’ve studied my watch a few times, but only to plan things out. Usually to figure out things like… ok, so I’m here right now, it’ll take me X amount of time to do this, then X for that, add time to do this task, and so at approximately this time, I should be available to do whatever. For example, I’m on the plane, we just landed, 10-15 minutes to taxi in, another 10 minutes to de-plane, I’m at gate X, it’ll take me 5 minutes to walk over to this area, so I should be there in approx. 30 minutes, give or take. I don’t really do this to make sure that every minute is accounted for. Instead, I do this more as a game, and to see how accurate I can be. A mindless little game to help distract me from being ridiculed.
So let me ask you this. Is this a habit that you do too? Are you a slave to the clock ? In my work, I’m always looking at the clock. Let me rephrase, not looking at it in hopes that time would pass. But more to be aware of what time it is, as there are the ever present meetings, and deadlines that I’m expected to adhere to. However, when I am not at work, I should probably make efforts to not pay attention to the clock. One thing I have noticed, is that I do have a tough time switching off. What I mean by that is that even though I’m no longer at work, I still look at the world around me through the eyes of someone who looks at business and processes. Its probably much like anyone sells tires will likely always look at the tires on your car first before anything else.
I think the place I’d like to get to is where the clock has little or no meaning. For example, I always get a laugh out of retired people. They talk about this or that, and the activities on certain days or what they need to get done by a certain time, etc… My line back is usually, “Isn’t every day a Saturday ?” I think this is a state I would like to get to. And I don’t mean once I retire. This is a state of mind where, you get to plan out the things you want to do, just like it was a Saturday. If you want to sleep in and then read the newspaper and have a coffee in your housecoat and fuzzy slippers, you can do that. Or if you want to go out for an early morning run or yoga class, and then enjoy the rest of the morning doing the things you like doing… then that’s what a Saturday should be. I would like to see this state sooner than later. I think that being a slave to the clock and to someone else’s deadlines are highly overrated. I’m not saying you should be lazy all day and do nothing. Instead I’m saying, go out and do the things that are important to you, First. To give you an example, there is a book called the Wealthy Barber, ever read it ? The primary lesson I took away from this book was this; determine what amount it is that you are going to save, then think of that as a bill, a bill to yourself, to pay yourself. The only criteria with the bill to yourself is that you pay yourself first. Then that way you ensure you are actually saving. See a pattern here ? No ? in other words, take care of yourself, first ! And that means taking the time you need for yourself, First ! It really bothers me to hear people talk about the things they want to do and that they are waiting to do those in retirement. My Grandfather retired at 65 and by 67 he was dead. Do you think he did the things he thought he should have done in his retirement. Unlikely !
I think from here on in… outside of work… I will initiate a personal challenge. Try to figure out how to live a day without worrying about what time it is. Next step, not look at a clock for a day. Want to give it a try with me ?
Stay tuned, this could get interesting…