Making time for live music in my home, courtesy of houseguests, Brian and Amy. Photo by Shannon Bailey.

I am The Poster Girl for Productivity, yet until this summer, I’ve felt that I wasn’t productive enough. I stressed myself so terribly much, too.   I would finish a list of 200 things in a weekend and fall in bed exhausted on Sunday night and say aloud, “I didn’t get everything done that I planned–I’m such a failure!”

Maybe that comes from the way my dad used to tell me I wasn’t “fit for nothing” and the way my mom was always so busy, proving her value through neverending jobs and responsibilities that were seldom rewarded.  I don’t know.   Unfortunately, it’s something I’ve passed along to my kids, who refer to the “P-word” with great disdain.  Now I’m trying to undo it.

It occurred to me early this year that I routinely say “I don’t have time to—” or “I never have enough time.” This isn’t anything new.  But I decided to do something about it because I am positive I have been saying this since I was 25 or younger, and if I felt I didn’t have enough time at 25, then surely I have less time now that I’m in my 40’s, right?

Yet I realized yesterday when I walked leisurely about my back yard and plopped into the hammock that I was suddenly, for the first time in my life, NOT in a rush.  It was truly the oddest feeling!  But while swinging in my hammock, I thought about the changes I’ve made this year and how those changes and insights have affected my idea of time–and no, I didn’t invent that time machine I’ve been requisitioning for 20 years so I could get everything done in one day’s time.

  1. I made a conscious effort to stop staying “I don’t have enough time.” Why reinforce it?
  2. I realized that I’ve already been living in a time-machine of my own making–extreme overproduction–for decades.  Imagine that to get your work done, you climb into a time machine and go back and finish everything you left unfinished because there weren’t enough hours in the day.  So you come back to the present and only 5 minutes have passed but your body’s aged 5 hours.  You may manage to cram more stuff into one day, but you haven’t made time for life.
  3. I railed against my religious upbringing and decided that enjoying my Present here on Earth is not sloth, not a sin, and is–in my view–something Deity would revel in seeing me relish.
  4. I stopped subscribing to the overload of blogs and podcasts on “how to be productive” or “how to manage your time” because productivitis seems to be a disease that needs to be fed with all these tools and techniques that need even more tools to manage them with.

Thank you for reading!  The complete version of this article is now included in Give Your Life Direction.


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