What if I told you that time was just a concept? The hours of the day and days of the week and so on and so forth created by humans – much like us – in a period when organisation was needed and basic society coming together. How does that make you feel? It dissipates the sense of urgency, doesn’t it? It eradicates the belief that by ‘x’ hour in the day we should be doing one thing and by ‘y’ another. It brings us back freedom.
Now, I know how things work; I know the rules: in this day and age, sticking to times and scheduling your day are indeed paramount to getting your work done. You can’t plan meetings if you don’t arrange a time to meet; you can’t set a deadline for your team if you don’t have an hour and a day to which to refer. However, it is essential to our joy and relaxation to – ironically – schedule in ‘time’ that isn’t rigid.
What does this do if we allow ourselves to be free, operating according to the sun and circadian rhythms, rather than man-made laws? This allows us to sit in the driver’s seat of our own life and decide what feels good. It is incredible how infrequently we follow our inner guidance system, going by logical thought and expectations over what we need in each new moment. In case you haven’t realized it yet, if you’re a relatively normal, healthy human, your body will give you all the signs and signals you need to get through life in one piece. Think about it: you know when you’re hungry, when you’re tired, when you’re scared and need to seek shelter. You could wake up at the next sunrise tomorrow, and simply listen to what your soul is asking for. The likelihood is that allowing yourself to be guided by what you desire is what will draw our your highest creativity, rather than suppressing what wants to flourish because of preconceived ideas about the kinds of activities that should be going on at that particular time of day.
You’ll notice that when I’ve written ‘should’ above, it is in italics. I do this because to me there is a tandem link between time and working to someone else’s expectations. When we do this, we lose our own inner power by living by another’s idea about the kind of time allocations you should be setting. Only you know what is best for you. We each have our own circadian rhythms, individual to our own well-being. If we tune into those, we’re on to a winner.
You will know whether you’re a morning rooster or a night owl. Most people tend to prefer a particular time of the day. If we allow ourselves to tune into that and live unrestricted by the clock face, we are respecting our personal circadian rhythm and doing what feels good when it feels good.
So what is the key to being happy, reducing anxiety, feeling as free as a bird? Understanding the concept of time and seeing how it can help you in your productivity and working with others, but remembering that it is just that: a concept. Here’s how to put this into practice:
1. Find your ideal sleep pattern: According to the Harvard Medical School, an average adult needs 7.5-8.5 (!) hours of sleep a night to function optimally. It is best if you can find your ideal sleeping schedule: try taking a “sleep vacation” where you take several days to sleep as much as you like, and see where you “settle.” You can also keep a sleep diary to record when and how long you sleep, and how that affects your mood, focus, and energy the next day.
2. Pay attention to your energy, mood, and hunger levels throughout the day: How hungry do you feel throughout the day? Are you hungry immediately upon waking or not until noon? Does your energy dip at 4 p.m. or at 9 p.m.? What time of the day do you feel happiest or calmest–or most anxious? The more you understand how you feel throughout the day, the more you can accommodate your own needs. For instance, if you’re not hungry at the designated lunch hour, have it later. If your energy levels naturally dip in mid-afternoon, take a refreshing walk instead of plowing through at your desk or whiling away scrolling through social media.
3. Tell people about your schedule preferences: One of the best ways to honor your own time is to let others know how you feel at certain times of the day. It can be something small, like letting your partner know that you feel rushed in the morning and that s/he can help you out by giving you some space–or conversely, that you need rest and quiet before s/he does. Depending on your work environment you might also be able to ask for a flexible schedule. Would you prefer to come in an hour early or an hour later than others, but do the same amount of hours at the office? These questions may seem “bold”–but you don’t know what they’ll say until you ask!
4. Give yourself reminders that your time is yours: If you feel like you just don’t have enough time, or that your schedule is driving you, give yourself a quiet moment to remind yourself that you should be controlling your time, not the other way around.
Also by Kat: 6 Ways to Create a Work Sanctuary
5 Liberating Ways to Reduce Consumption
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Photo: Brooke Cagle via Unsplash: Kat Kennedy