I was looking at my calendar the other day. It’s really full. I’m totally okay with it being that way. After all, it’s my own fault. Last year I decided to ramp up on a few things – more teaching, more speaking gigs. We went full throttle on producing another season of our TV series. We took on new client projects. I got back into performing music, and took a bigger interest in fitness.

It’s no wonder there aren’t very many blank spots on my calendar.

At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the look of my calendar. My anxiety level rose as I realized that, for the next month, I had something on my calendar pretty well every single day. Not all work – but there was going to be something commanding my time and attention at some point, every single day. I felt exhausted just looking at it.

But then I noticed something.

In between all of those calendar entries was space. Sometimes an inch of space. Sometimes two. Sometimes, if I was lucky, there were 3 or 4 inches.

Inches of time.

These inches of time were empty. That meant they were mine, to do with as I please. Watch a movie. Call my Mom. Cook. Eat a meal with my husband. Sleep. Veg out.

Every day, I had things on my calendar that I had committed to do. But every day, I also had inches of time.

We live in a society where time is often dictated for us. We’re supposed to work 8 hours a day, have 8 hours a day to spend doing leisure activities, and sleep 8 hours a night. On the weekends we get 16 hours a day for leisure and 8 hours a night for sleep.

That model has never really worked for me. Usually it starts to fall apart at the sleep part. I try for 8 hours a night and succeed most nights. Sometimes I get 6. Other times I get 10 or 11, if my body decides it needs it.

I don’t work 8 hours a day. Sometimes I work 4. Sometimes 17. Rarely 8.

I enjoy the flexibility that my career choice affords me. I am not inclined to give it up. But along with that choice comes the knowledge that I will be putting in more hours at times than the prescribed 8 a day. And that sometimes I’ll get more sleep, and sometimes I’ll get less. And that sometimes I’ll have lots of time for family and friends, and other times I may not.

But I will always have inches of time.

Yesterday I had no inches. I jumped from one task to the next until I literally fell into bed at 10pm. Today, I have enough inches that I can sit here in this coffee shop and write some blog posts. I can sip my tea and look out the window. I can chat on the phone. Later, I have to work. But after that, I have another inch or two of time before I go to bed.

We are all so busy, so swamped, that we forget, that even as much as we have to do in a day, month, year, that we will always have those inches of time in our schedule.

How are you going to use your inches?

[photo credit: Johnny Boy on Flickr]

3 Responses

  1. Fun, introspective read here Suze. Ya made me think, and I enjoyed it. Like you, the whole 8/8/8 ratio ain’t my thing. I sacrifice on the sleep part to get more out of the other two. And like you, I enjoy my life, which is a beautiful thing to say.

    Much thanks


  2. Comment to your post is difficult.
    Real inches of time? Just time for myself? To relax?
    For me the real relax is reading, sip some tea as you, call or write to friends. The difficult part is to do without feeling guilty. I grew up with the time to somehow exploit the time for something useful, productive. Even if I know that relax is useful, I still feel guilty. I try to use free time for my passion: food, food history and blog.
    Your post reminds me of the work that I’ve to do on not feeling guilty to dedicate time to myself.

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