Where Does Time Go?

Beach vacations are once again just pleasant memories in tabletop photo albums. Leaves are changing from lush vibrant green to hints of yellow and orange. The thermometer has made several dips to the 50’s. Late summer fog has settled into the valleys and pastures, sometimes obscuring morning commutes to work. Yellow school buses carrying sleepy children with oversized backpacks have once again appeared on streets and roadways. Football season and tailgating parties have returned. Time stands still for no one, not even in our most pleasurable moments when we wish so desperately that it would.   Where does time go?

It has been weeks since I put pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard) to write. The only excuse I have is that life just got in my way for a brief season. There have been hurdles of discouragement in the form of hackers and hosting company changes that really caused me to question whether I should publicly share any portion of my life online at all.   That is the way it goes when you step out of your comfort zone and try to build a website or a business. It is like being the tallest object on a level terrain in the midst of a thunderstorm. You just have to weather the storm and be grounded when the lightning strikes come. The sun is shining now and I’m still standing. It is time to move on. After all, time waits for no one.  With this entry, I will not write to please the SEO gods of blogging who score my efforts for the masses and set search engines grinding.

My summer has been occupied by my usual nursing duties at work (of course), a nursing conference, a first-ever family reunion, and a multitude of road trips that were not all for pleasure. I pride myself in my determination to make lemonade out of lemons and finding ways to incorporate fun into any journey.   Like most people, I have often felt pulled in a dozen directions at once, trying my best to prioritize time and resources. Where does the time go?   For that matter, where does a lifetime go? How do we budget our time for the greatest impact?

As for me, much of my priority time this summer has been spent with family and family-related activities, which were my moments of greatest pleasure and hearty laughter.   I also made myself available during times when a couple of my family members needed support as they were dealing with health issues and surgery.

So what about “me time?” The distinction of “me time” can get really fuzzy because it is hard to separate the things I want to do apart from things I want or need to do with and for those I love. I don’t feel at all cheated because my free time hasn’t solely been focused on solo activities.   However, writing is very much a solo activity and that is the thing I have missed.   Although I took a brief hiatus from writing, it was for a brief season and I am once again back with fingers to keyboard.

As the shadows of leaves dancing in the late summer breeze bring my wall to life with the setting sun, I leave you to ponder the same question: Where does time go? How can we best hang on to and capitalize on the time we are given for a season, especially when it is a pleasurable season?  I’d love to hear from you.

Pam Baker, RN


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Do you know where the time thieves are in your life?  Watching TV one hour per night (local and National/World news) will cost me 21,900 min. a year whereas time spent on Facebook (checking newsfeed to see what others are doing and posting to my personal FB page) will rob me of an easy 43,800 minutes a year (2 hours a day).  

Do you know what is stealing your time?

Do you know what is stealing your time?

As I write this blog, it is “time” to confess that I am one of those people who struggles with time management.  Like money, there never seems to be enough of it.  Some say time is money.   However, all the money in the world will not buy another minute of time to add to your life.  The older I get, the more fleeting time becomes, so I am keenly aware that I need to be managing it wisely to accomplish my personal, professional, business and spiritual goals.

By simple calculation there are 526,000 minutes in any given year.  I’m forevermore saying I don’t have time to do the things I need to do to build my business or to invest in relationships with people.  Young or old, rich or poor, famous or infamous, successful or unsuccessful, (Lord willing) we each get allotted the same number of minutes each year.

Of those 526,000 minutes, I surmise that if I sleep the recommended 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, I will have used 174,720 minutes just lying there sleeping.  I know this seems like a frivolous waste of time, but our bodies really need it for rest, restoration, and for peak mental and physical function. Those who lose sleep end up mentally sluggish, with memory loss, headaches, and a variety of other problems.  Therefore, there’s no stealing from sleep on an ongoing basis that won’t “cost” you in terms of health problems in the long run.

If you already have a full time job, an additional 124,800 of those allotted minutes will be spent working (not counting time off for holidays).  Commuting to work will cost me 11,700 (45 min./day/5 days/52 wks.) That leaves me to determine what I’m doing with the other 216,000 minutes in the year that are unaccounted for to this point.

Talking on the phone is now considered “old school” communication thanks to Social Media, yet it is almost a requirement at work.  Some people don’t want to have a phone conversation once they’re home, yet let’s estimate 60 min/day x 365 day per year for 21,900 minutes.

How does one track the amount of time spent texting or chatting on instant messenger?  Is it even possible? Depending on the age group, I’m betting the time invested is significant as it often replaces verbal communication even when two texters are sitting in close proximity to one another.

God only knows how much wasted time is spent checking, responding to and deleting email messages. Even at work, some would rather dash off a quick email, risking misinterpretation of message tone rather than step away from their desks and speak to the other party face-to-face. (The retract and delete feature was a stroke of utter genius by a person who understood the repercussions of miscommunication.)

Distressing as it is to think about, I currently have over 11,000 messages looming in only ONE of my personal email inboxes, most of which are likely spam (despite all the filters, blocking and junk folders).   I recognize the process of sorting through and deleting or deciding to save or print can also be the time thieves.  I can only hope this primary email address will eventually implode and save me the trouble of trying to figure out how to delete it altogether.   Fortunately I have additional email addresses that are less out of control, but only because I haven’t given them out to others or used them as methods of contacting me.  Bottom line?  If someone really needs to contact me, they should probably just pick up the phone and call.  (By the way, I’m not great at checking voice messages either.)

If any of you have close friends or family members who are on their computers throughout the day, checking email, then forwarding messages with a fury to everybody they know (with all their friends’ email addresses visible), then you can appreciate my reluctance to give out new email addresses.  We should enroll these people in Spammers Anonymous (if there isn’t such an organization, there should be) for a SA 12-step program where they’ll get daily inspirational tips on how to break the cycle of spamming addiction (which they would do doubt forward to each of us daily as well).

For those who are on Facebook (like FB alone isn’t a major time thief), there are all those incessant reguests to play games that are the time thieves that hook many (but not me). Unfortunately I have found no good way to block these people trying to lure me in to wasting even more time with them while playing on APPS involving fruit and barnyard animals. I have a lifetime record of having played a grand total of 3 games of Scrabble with an anonymous fellow in China who beat me mercilessly every time we played.   I had no idea he was playing with an online guide that helped him beat me.  There’s no sport in beating somebody with an unabridged dictionary at your fingertips!

Consider that if you spent only ONE minute a day playing games, that’s 365 min/year and you won’t be one bit wiser or richer in the process.  Playing games is not to be confused with personal development!  It is simply a way to pass time and time is getting past each of us quickly enough already.

I honestly have no idea how much time I spend doing the following essential tasks:

  • Reading
  • Shopping
  • Preparing meals
  • Caring for pets
  • Doing laundry
  • Cleaning house
  • Paying bills
  • Visiting with family
  • Visiting with friends

TV can become huge time thief.  I no long subscribe to cable TV.  If I’m going to watch a program on TV, it needs to be commercial free.  I also feel better about watching TV if I can multi-task and be working actively on another project at the same time.  My mother was a soap opera addict.  Everything she didn’t centered on being home or free at the time her two soap operas came on every day.   She spent precious minutes out of the 52 short years she lived watching other people living fictitious lives on TV rather than the reality of living her own life.

I am reminded of my years as a visiting nurse in other’s homes.  Patients and their families sat spellbound in front of conjured “reality” TV shows, viewing the explosive exploits of “baby mamma drama” and slowly rotting their own brains in the process.   I can almost feel my IQ drop 30 points when I hear the loud voices and “bleap” “bleap” of the censored language of these same programs being viewed in the recreation room of the institution where I now work.

In conclusion, it is not the HOURS that get away from us in our lives.  Rather it is the MINUTES that turn into hours during which we have accomplished nothing toward our goals or personal development that should cause each of us to begin to take personal inventory.   Could you trim off an hour a day you’re wasting and invest it more wisely in growing your own business, learning a new skill, accomplishing a task, performing a fitness activity for your health, or developing a personal relationship?  Each of us has one lifetime to spend.  Not all lifetimes are equal.  We have no idea how many minutes that life will contain from first breath to last.  Therefore, to maximize our potential, we must first maximize how we budget the time each of us is given. What about you?

  • Have you evaluated how you invest your time?
  • Do you make lists of priorities and check off tasks?
  • Do you have a list of personal goals?
  • Do you know how to set goals? Are you able to check off which of those goals you accomplish on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis?
  • Do you have time management tips that you could share that would help others?
  • How much time do you allot daily toward your building your business?
  • How much time do you invest in building relationships with others (as well as your spouse)?
  • How much time do you invest in your spiritual growth (such as going to church, Bible study group, or studying your Bible?
  • Are you living a distracted life, not fully focused on the moment because of your personal time thieves?
  • If you cut your time thieves and invested more wisely, how much richer would you be in all areas of your life?

This blog is not about making each of us feel bad about our misadventures, but rather a reality check to help us recognize how we could budget our time to reach our maximum potential.   I have room for growth.  What about you?  Can you identify the time thieves in your life?

Pam Baker, RN









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