Monday, January 28, 2019

The Myth of "Just Five Minutes"

Monday continues to be a real humdinger of a day. For my health, I start my day slowly. Yes, really - for my health. I do better with a slow start. But once I've had my morning bit of quiet, all bets are off for just what I'll get done for the day. There's always so much to cram in.

As it is still January, and people are still committed to beginning the year with new habits and goals, I've been seeing/hearing/reading a whole lot about prioritizing time and giving just five or ten or twenty minutes to some worthy endeavor. This is often followed by the phrase "no excuses," as if we can all find that much time to devote to something similar.


I hate to burst the bubble of all those people who are encouraging me to  better myself, but sometimes I do not have five minutes. Or ten minutes. Or twenty minutes. Some days, like today, it's 11pm, and I have had no free time in my day since I ditched the coffee cup and started in on my list. I thought I would have time, but I didn't. My kids needed things that took time and lap space. Sometimes my whole body is involved in parenting, and there is nothing else I can do at all. Today, I got the necessary things done, but nothing extra.

So I'm not really interested in adding any other commitments to my days. It's never just five minutes, and even if it were, there are only so many five minute intervals of time within a day. It seems like there would be an endless amount, but alas, no. All those small blocks of time add up, and I don't have enough of them as it is. When I do have more time than I anticipate having, I like to be able to decide then and there how I will use it. I don't want life to be so full that every day is like today, with nothing leftover at the end of it.

Despite all the talk of self care that's floating around these days, leaving time unaccounted for in the day is still often frowned upon. I know this. It is a powerful thing to have other people displaying their very good habits and encouraging others to do the same. It can feel like I am not doing enough, not making enough effort. But feelings are not facts, and we must each determine what actually works in our own lives. For me, what works is accepting that I don't have any unused bits of time to give right now. If you have five minutes (or more - lucky you!) each day for something new, go for it! But if, like me, you have a greater need for margins on the page of your life than you do for more to write into the story, that's ok, too. 

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