Lessons Learned #15 – Out of Time

It’s Thursday and time for a look back on the week. By sharing my “lessons learned” I hope to illustrate the power of this daily practice of gentle self-observation. Please join in and share your own insights from your week in the comments.

This Time Disciple has been doing a lot of learning this week. And the lessons have been about how I relate to time differently depending on the kind of work my mind is most occupied with.

I’ve been exploring and becoming more aware of the language I use with time. For a while it was all about being careful how I used money language with time (spend, free, spare, etc.).

Now it’s all language about feeling out of sync – “I’m so behind!” and “I really need to get caught up!” and “Wow, how did last week just disappear!”

It’s about not feeling in my proper place, where I belong, where I should be. And it’s about not feeling present.

I already know the notions of behind and catch up are the result of my own constructs – illusions. I made the plan and have the power to change the plan. With a few alterations  – abracadabra – I’m no longer behind.

But this not feeling present thing? That has me discombobulated.

Apparently, when my mind is engaged in deep problem solving, it alters my sense of time, my awareness of its passing. I’m not “here” to notice it. I’m “there” working out solutions.

I’m not talking about flow here. I’m not describing an afternoon blissfully lost in a creative groove.

I’m talking about a suspension of rhythm altogether.

And I think – maybe – this suspension is deliberate. I cannot take action while questioning which action to take. What I’m feeling is what I’m subconsciously doing on purpose.

What actually has been out of sync is acknowledging what I want and need to do for myself – accepting that I need a time out, the sort of time out in which I can remain present – and what I think I should be doing instead.

Darn those shoulds.

It keeps coming down to shoulds, listening, and giving myself room to move.


3 Responses to “Lessons Learned #15 – Out of Time”

  1. 1 JoVE March 27, 2009 at 7:18 am

    As I understand it, losing track of time will involved in creative work is normal. My homeschoolers who have right-brained kids crowd (and some of them have VERY r-b kids) talk about this a lot. their kids just don’t do clock time very well.

    Does knowing that clocks and calendars and measuring and disciplining time are relatively recent conventions help at all? Is there a way to think about how you organize your time, and your plan, that does not make as strict use of those modern disciplines? I know some of what we do has to fit with other people’s notions of time (and thus the discipline of clocks and calendars) but maybe all of it doesn’t.

    I think Charlie Gilkey plays with this a bit in his planners.

  2. 2 Cairene March 27, 2009 at 8:14 am


    “losing track of time will involved in creative work is normal”

    Of course – happens all the time. I’m used to it and plan for it, mostly because I like it – a lot. It’s as important to me as REM sleep and never a source of guilt.

    That’s what I call “flow” and why I made the distinction. This thing isn’t flow. When I’m in flow, decisions come very easily and are a pleasure to wrassle with even when they don’t. It’s all very intuitive and fun and generally produces good stuff. And I feel very present when I’m in flow.

    This “suspension” I’m feeling is a space where decisions don’t come with any clarity. There’s a lot of wrassling that’s not so fun. And it’s slow. And apparently I can’t do it and so much as chew gum at the same time. It’s a space in which I question direction and there’s no going forward without moving through the problem I’m trying to solve. It’s not so much distracting as preoccupying – thus the sense of not being present. (I could even argue the loss of presence is a desire to get some distance and perspective on the problem.)

    It wouldn’t be a big deal except for needing/wanting to stay present for my clients and others in my life. I can’t exactly “check out” without consequence. So what I’m reaching for here is some way to create a kind of space for such moments (because they do come along from time to time – they are predictable in that way) that doesn’t result in isolation. Because a) I don’t like the consequences and b) the isolation doesn’t really help the problem solving.

    What I’m wanting to learn is how to create suspension without isolation, a time-out *with* presence (which I can intuit as possible, if not clearly visualize just yet. Do know this much: the answer lies in communication).

  3. 3 JoVE March 27, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Hmmm. That is a sticky problem.

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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



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