Lying on my bed in my student flat staring at the ceiling I felt unbearably stressed. No, I hadn’t just come from a tense boardroom meeting, I had no relatives on deaths doorstep and my exams were a good few months away.
I was flummoxed at where this agitation had come from and I knew it wasn’t the first time I’d felt stressed for, well, not good reason.
Then it hit me. An epiphany, a revaluation, a moment of clarity I’d never experienced before. It was my way of thinking! I’d always known that I hated having a schedule but I never realised why, until now. My university timetable had been running my life!
It wasn’t that I had an excessive amount of lectures to be in, or that I was being given a heavy workload. I’d simply processed my timetable in my head as being my daily routine. Everything I did would fit around my timetable. I would wake up in the morning for uni like an extra in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, get ready, go to Uni, come back, eat, set my alarm for Uni and sleep. I’m not going to lie, there is some partying in there but on a students budget it’s fairly modest.
I wasn’t filling my spare time with anything productive. Adding to my CV that I’m a highly committed person because I got through the entire box set of Gossip Girl in less than a month is hardly going to impress anybody. Although…that is 5324 minutes, which is 88.73 hours; sad but true.
That’s not to say that we should be filling our time trying to fluff out our CV’s. Instead we should be doing more productive things for ourselves. For me, it could be something as small as painting my nails, or having a cup of tea at a later hour than usual; when ordinarily I’d avoid it out of fear of the caffeine affecting me waking up in the morning. I didn’t want these thoughts governing my behaviour anymore.
Phil Zimbardo notes in his book The Time Paradox that people who live in the present are a lot happier than those who are always stuck thinking in the past, or in my case, always living for a better future.
That’s not to say we should all get drunk, smoke up and go in pursuit of STI’s. We can sacrifice some time to be “productive” but we shouldn’t let it ruin our happiness in the long run. We need to strike that balance and maintain it.
It’s hard to take a step back when you feel busy and allow yourself time to think. I’m so glad that I did! It’s a mental exercise reevaluating your perspective on time but it’s something that controls your behaviour in day to day life.
I think it’s worth doing, before we become slaves to the clock.