Take Back Your Time

October 22, 2010

"Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."
 ~Carl Sandburg

Did you know that we in the U.S. work more hours than any other industrialized nation? In fact, we work more hours than medieval peasants!

This Sunday, Oct. 24, marks the seventh annual Take Back Your Time Day. This movement, which grew out of the voluntary simplicity movement, is a “major U.S./Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment,” according to the movement’s official Web site, http://www.timeday.org/. (The date of Oct. 24 is significant: it falls nine weeks before the end of the year, and symbolizes the fact that Americans now work an average of nine full weeks more per year than Western Europeans.)

Time for contemplation and awe

Time Day organizers encourage both personal efforts and local and national legislation to help people win back their time. If you want to learn more, you can visit their Web site, read the official handbook, check out Take Back Your Time’s channel on YouTube, or read my SheKnows.com article.

No matter what your paid work situation, it’s good to evaluate periodically how you spend your time, and whether or not you’re using it wisely. As a freelancer as well as a mother, I find that even though I don’t go to an office 40+ hours a week, work has a way of filling my hours and days. My paid and unpaid work and personal life tend to bleed into each other. Sometimes I have to adjust how much time I’m spending at the barn with Tank or with friends socializing (ahem) and how much time I spend keeping the house running or meeting writing deadlines, even and especially self-imposed ones. Sometimes we have to take back our time not from someone or something outside of ourselves, but from our own habits. I think it may be time for a reevaluation of how I spend my time.

Time to explore the natural world

Whether or not you work full time for pay, I’m pretty sure you work hard at whatever you do. So this Sunday, take back your time—spend a few hours with your family or friends, alone doing something you enjoy—or even doing absolutely nothing. Be mindful and deliberate about what you’re doing, or not doing, and see how that feels. I plan to spend the afternoon on my lanai, with a good book and my journal so I can write out what’s going on, what’s working and what isn’t—I’m going to take back my time.

What about you? How have you been spending your time? How do you want to spend it? How can you take back your time?

Time well spent

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  1. This sounds like a wonderful "idea," but the reality of it seems.....out of reach to me, right now. Maybe because of the week I've had or because of the deadlines racing towards me with unerring relentlessness.

    Regardless, if one doesn't try, then nothing changes!

  2. What a great post! My time is all too often spent by others (because of my allowing) and things I have planned that seemed do-able at the time.

    Someone once told me to "beware of distant elephants." In other words, the elephants seem small because they are in the distance (the future), but they are still elephants (big, unwieldy and unpredictable projects or events) that will eventually come home to you.

    Unfortunately for me, sometimes the elephants come disguised as cute teeney kittens!

    I may not be able to take back some time this Sunday, but I plan to build in a bit more "me" time for the future so I can spend my coin more wisely.

  3. Laure--you're one of the hardest-working people I know, and you've just had a run of bad luck with things going wrong. You also have a way of seeing where you've gotten out of balance and swinging back the other way. There are certainly times when things run out of control, but I have confidence that you'll soon be feeling better about your time.

  4. Elizabeth--I love the "elephants" analogy! How true! And sometimes those teeny kittens can get to you, too, when there are enough of them! That's my problem--feeling torn between multiple things I want and need to do, none of which is overwhelming in and of itself.

  5. I have to take back time from myself! I don't have a lot of responsibilities at home anymore and don't work outside my home. I tend to not do anything because I am always waiting to see what my husband is going to do; when are we eating, doing our daily crosswords and so on. I really need to just get some projects started and work on them rather than wait on his call for this or that. It's not his fault (except he feels entitled to my immediate attention at any time) but mine so I really need to think about this one.

  6. Timaree--each stage in life has its own challenges, doesn't it? I have a good deal of control over my schedule, too, and I find that I spend a lot of time waiting for something to happen, rather than seizing the day, so to speak. Or doing piddly little things instead of really tackling what needs to be done. Good luck reevaluating!

  7. Thanks for sharing the info and for suggesting a personal checkpoint.

  8. You're welcome, Claire. Sometimes a little check in is necessary, is it not?

  9. After getting that quick kick in the rear, I got busy. I've mentioned your blogpost here. and share a necklace I just made because of the very good reminder!

  10. Timaree--Glad you found the post helpful. I checked out your necklace and it's lovely. Good use of time!