It’s a bewildering phenomenon to me how the busier we are and the less time we have to get things done, the more productive we actually tend to be. When we start a new day with a completely open, flexible schedule, and a list of obligations we need to get done, we seem to be far less likely to do much of anything at all with that free time, let alone the important things of top priority. Why has this bizarre fact suddenly become so clear? Because now that I am officially graduated and have all the time in the world to accomplish my goals, I have chosen instead to devote my time to watching Netflix and draining my bank account on fruitless expenditures. Not that I don’t consider “It’s always sunny in philidelphia” marathons and binge drinking with friends worthy pastimes, I must admit they are not conducive to my completion of more essential tasks- such as paying taxes, grocery shopping, sleeping, keeping diligently in touch with friends and family- and oh, discovering what in God’s name I want to do with my life.
When I was in school taking 15 units a semester, working 2 (sometimes 3) jobs at a time, exercising daily, and participating in various extracurriculars, I looked forward to the graduated life as a time for self reflection, realizing and pursuing career goals, and developing non school- related hobbies, since I would no longer be so busy earning my degree. Yet, looking back now I realize I did FAR more of those things when I was actually in school; when I was scrapping through each day with barely a second to flicker my eyes upon a television screen in passing, let alone indulge in marathons. In those times I ran marathons, not watched them. I would rise early, go to sleep late, hit the grind all day long, and even squeeze in a (literally) intoxicating social life in the margins. Yes, when I had absolutely no free time to speak of, I STILL managed to take care of everything I needed to do, and dream up ambitions to do more.
Analyzing why this puzzling dynamic exists has led me to formulate a theory, which I will call the “momentum” theory. This theory is as follows: when we are extremely busy, fighting for survival, under pressure, and moving forward, we will continue to gain momentum and accelerate in this positive direction. It is the moment we stop, we turn on the t.v., we graduate school, we finish the marathon, we allow ourselves to sleep in, we skip the gym because we’re tired, we pass up an opportunity waiting for the next one, that we lose momentum and lose productivity. Once the momentum is gone, we have no power left to move us forward. Just as a car moves slowly when accelerating from a complete stop, once we have lost our momentum forward we have to work even harder to get back to the speed we were at before.
So how do we fix this situation? How do we sludge through the quicksand of inactivity and stagnancy, of wasting time and procrastinating, of waiting until tomorrow to get things done, or until we have watched just ONE more episode of Workaholics? Step one: Leave the house. Force yourself to change out of your robe and pajamas the moment you wake up. Start your day productively, get your momentum started RIGHT AWAY. Once you have taken care of one errand, you will feel motivated to undertake the next. The feeling of accomplishment will elevate your spirits and inspire you to do more. Your energy and confidence will increase, and so will your urgency to optimize your hours. Going from place to place, you will see things that will inspire you more, encounter experiences and people who will broaden your horizons. Your high momentum will enable you to deftly and quickly switch gears, transition from one thing to the next, and have a go-getter attitude that will win you opportunities and success.
It’s a fact: when we are busy, we thrive. In the span of one day, an efficient individual can accomplish what would take an inefficient one a week. So, make yourself busy. Stop hating errands, and don’t consider any of your time “free time”. Give your time purpose. It doesn’t have to be spent doing something mundane, boring, stressful or in one way or another unpleasant. But once time is considered open and unassigned, it becomes wasted. Make lists, itineraries, agendas- have goals. If you’re like me and are done with school, in a transition period in your life, and have spans of time with which to do whatever you please, don’t waste it. Build forward momentum, and keep gaining speed towards your goals. The moment you put on the breaks, you’re going to waste time, fuel, and motivation getting the wheels spinning again. So pick up the speed, and pick up the slack my friends!