Loose time

I have a loose relationship with time.

For example, getting places on time.  I can’t do it to save my life*.  There’s this joke in my family that there’s time, and then there’s Olmsted Time.  My dad was an hour late to his own wedding.  No question he was standing my mom up–they’d had breakfast together!  He was just late.  I’m late to things I want to go to, like dinner with people I love.  Whatever I’m doing now is right in front of me, and the other thing is farther away.

Then there’s estimating how long something will take me.  I know it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.  So why does it take all day?  What are those other things that come up?  Is it just that it takes me an hour to get into the right headspace to actually accomplish anything?  Is it that I’m interrupted too much?  Do I just not focus well enough?  Probably all of the above.  I know other people can’t plan around me if I can’t tell them how long I’m going to take to finish, but how do I estimate accurately without way overestimating?

I am most productive** when I’m right up to the wire, need to be finished by the end of today and now it’s 7pm.  Don’t even get me started on deadlines in college.  I almost never wrote a paper earlier than the night before it was due.  (But they came out good.)

Mornings are the bane of my existence.  I hate waking up out of a comfy sleep.  I hate having to go be functional first thing in the morning.  Why can’t I just sleep some more?  Or read in bed?  Have a relaxing breakfast?

Evenings are the opposite.  I can stay up later and later, regardless of when I woke up or how tired I am.  If I took a nap today?  Not likely to go to bed on time.  If I stayed at work late?  I still want to have my relaxing time at home before sleeping (since sleeping leads to waking, and waking leads to Eep I’m already late for work!).  And I’m most creative on too little sleep, too much caffeine, and/or not enough food.  Why?  Because my brain hates me.

In order to work a normal day job, I need to be at work at a reasonable hour in the morning.  I even see the benefit of it, when I manage to be there early.  I get way more done in the morning, it’s amazing!  But my bed was so much more amazing.

The positive sides to my fleeting acquaintance with time: I focus on what’s going on right now.  I get shit done on a tight deadline, and it comes out good.  And I’m creative when I push the boundaries of good-for-my-health.

But I don’t want all of my deadlines to be that short, it gets exhausting and has negative effects on my personal life.  And incidentally, self-imposed deadlines?  Not at all motivating.

Why do I still feel like I’m failing all the time?

* Slight exaggeration, merely because I allot myself ridiculous amounts of time when it really matters.  But I can’t live that way.

** For some definition of productive.  This only works with things that matter.  Fake deadlines don’t do it for me.  And truly interesting things get done regardless of deadlines.

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Liza Olmsted

Software QA Manager Emerita, Co-founder & Acquiring Editor at Thinking Ink Press, fiber artist, writer, hiker, cat mattress. ND. she/they, aspec.

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