In Between Time
Time is money! That’s the refrain from the business world heard innumerable times. In fact, time is more than money, more valuable that is. No matter how much money you have, no matter how fast you accumulate it (and we know many who have billions of dollars), you actually cannot make more time for yourself.
That’s right, Elon, Steve (sadly), Jeff and Warren, all have had the same opportunity with time as you and me. They’ve used their time in ways that have created interesting products, services and wealth as a result (I know the argument about time being money here). My question to you today is how are you using your time?
I’m not talking exactly about Saturday afternoon, or your vacation week. What about the fractions of time that exist throughout our days that seem to, unfortunately for many, be wasted? We waste time like we have lots of time to waste. In fact, we can’t know how much time we have on Earth and a lot of that time is spent ‘in between’ planned activity. I’d like you to come away with a new appreciation for the pockets of time that get eaten up “in between time”.
In between time is the minutes and hours that go by, while we are awake that we don’t take advantage of fully. Boarding your flight, for instance is delayed 20 minutes. Perhaps there’s a few minutes in the car while you wait for your child to come out of school. You go to the coffee shop and the lineup is longer than expected. These are all examples of “in between time” that can be used to build a more joyful and happy life. Many do not think about this time and how to use it in this way.
Instead, there are many ways people manage these situations today. Right now, lots of people simply grumble inside about the wait. Or perhaps use a time waster like ‘Candy Crush’ (do people still play that?) Some have their mind wonder or focus needlessly on a worry or issue that’s upcoming, or scanning email they’ve already checked. In short, the time is not used with intention.
I’d like to share an alternative and proactive, intentional approach for using this time as we choose. That is, to anticipate that these pockets of time will occur and be ready with various strategies to add to our life with it, not be bothered or irritated by the ‘loss’ of time.
When you realize you are in control of your time, you take back the power to do something about it.
The first thing to do is recognize that this time exists and will occur on a regular basis. Like having a spare tire in your car, it’s important to be prepared in advance of the event with an action plan. I know the phrase ‘action plan’ brings up images of boardrooms and meetings for some! You can use the same planning process you use at work or the errand run for having joyful in between time! In my last article on “How to Manage Setbacks”
I talked about recognizing the problem and sounding the alarm. Similarly, with in between time, once you have recognized it will happen, and can recognize when it’s happening, you can sound the alarm for yourself and take action!
So now what? I was first in line at the car wash, and now there’s something wrong with the machine and I am stuck here. I recognize the in between time is happening, how am I supposed to find joy in this moment? I’m going to be late!
Before getting into example suggestions for activity, I’d like first to highlight your ability to assess what you can control and what you can’t. If you really are stuck, it is what it is, as some say. There really is no point in wishing you could be somewhere else. The phrase I learned a long time ago that’s helped me here is:
I would prefer not to be in this situation (traffic, delay, etc.) right now, but it’s not such a big deal and I can handle it.
I have a few “go to” activities that I use to bring joy to any in between time I have. I’ll share with you here, and if you have things you like to do, I welcome you to share over on my Facebook Page @keithshawCHPC or in the comments section. Some of the activities you can do while stuck in traffic, others you can’t. Some you can do in an airplane seat, others you can’t. I encourage you to use your imagination and creativity to discover the things you can do to brighten your own day or the day of those around you.
And that’s my first activity, recognition and connection. Yesterday I was in line at the gas station waiting to pay (for my healthy zero calorie drink of course) and the debit machine connection went down. Actually I only learned that after about 5 minutes of staring at the service counter and clerk when he decided to tell the growing throng of customers in the small store the origin of the issue.
While I was in line, before ultimately abandoning my purchase, I sent a text to my best mate, asking him how his week was. Maybe you are awesome at saying thank you and letting people know how much you appreciate them. I am always working on being better here and I have a trigger during ‘in between time’ to think of someone I need to connect with and say thank you.
My second suggestion is not an activity at all but a mindset and that is one of presence. So often we lose moments that are part of our here and now worried about the future or ruminating on the past. It’s easy to fill time, especially time that we did not plan to have, with excess thought about things that don’t require that level of time and attention. Simply take a few breaths (start with 3 deep breaths), settle into your body and take time to acknowledge the detail around you that you would have otherwise missed. I’m fortunate to have all 5 of my primary senses, sight, touch, smell, sound, and taste. Perhaps not all come into play in all situations (not sure that tasting anything at the airport gate or doctor’s office is a good idea!), but after the breath, for those wanting structure to focus an otherwise irritated state of mind, focus your mind on the senses and acknowledge what they are communicating.
I’ll end by suggesting finally a gratitude check in. With few exceptions, if you are reading this, the situations of ‘in between time’ that you encounter are neither good nor bad (thinking makes it so). Having gratitude for the factors in your life that are going well, however simple, is a powerful way to help recognise the peace and safety that most of us enjoy. I have spent much of my career supporting people with illness in the pharmacy, and trained intensively in a hospital where people were sick with a variety of ailments so vast, I do not want to mention an example, for fear of giving you one more thing to worry about.
Some are spiritual and others are religious, in whatever way you want, be sure to take time to have gratitude for the simple things that are going right in your life. For me, I am thankful everyday that my family is healthy, that I am able to serve people with my leadership and coaching skills and that I live in a community of safety, opportunity and support.
“In between time” is inevitable. If you are one of the majority that feels their blood boiling or frustration coming into your mind when the unanticipated occurs, keep the above message in mind and send a friendly text to your partner/friend. Take a moment to observe your surroundings (and breathe), and be thankful your where you are and not burdened with a more serious situation. Life is short, and I want you to live fully, including those minutes and hours that occur in between planned activity!
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