Making Time

Yesterday, I posted about how a character in my favorite Steinbeck novel discovers the secret pleasure of slowing down.

This post from Caterina about how she makes more time in her life has me thinking. I love her suggestion of sleeping in two shifts:

“Researchers have discovered that in pre-industrial times, people slept in two shifts, waking in the middle of the night for some solitude, conversations with another person, wondering, or wandering. Then they’d go back to sleep for another stretch. I have been doing this lately, and have been able to get 2-3 hours of uninterrupted creative work done in the middle of the night.”

I’ve had a similar experience with naps.

What do you do to make more time for yourself, or at least to feel less rushed?

12 thoughts on “Making Time

  1. I love the two-shift night! I find that if I go to bed with my child at 7:30, then I can get a few hours of priority time in the middle of the night.

    The only way I can make time for myself is to not put myself 5th or 6th on the priority list. It feels selfish, which is strange, as I was blissfully without a serious relationship from ages 28-38. My needs were at the top of all my lists. I find that I often apologize to others for making time for myself. That has to end. It sets a bad example.

    Any reading for pleasure immediately takes me out of my world of infinite lists. It doesn’t suck my soul like bad tv (though there’s nothing wrong with the occasional soul-sucking – I don’t judge.). I just have to remember to pick up the book at the end of the day and put down the spreadsheet.


  2. I have 3 kids (5,3 and 1) and constantly pick up, wipe up etc. They were not learning to do things for themselves as I was spending all my time and energy doing it for them. A month ago I started just letting them do things. Making their beds, wiping the table, sweeping up, sorting laundry. Obviously the older 2 do more than the younger one, but even the 1 year old can put toys away. Making sure they have bins and shelves they can put things away and knowing it’s more important for them to learn the skill than have it look perfect has saved me tons of time. I don’t sit and read while they clean of course (although it’s an idea!!), but when the house is in order I feel at least calm enough to start focusing on those hobbies. It’s seriously made a huge difference in everyone here feeling empowered, helpful, and part of this family team.


  3. I have experienced something similar over the past few weeks. I have been in Thailand (normally in SF), and the time change has messed with my sleep schedule. Being wide awake at 3am local time started as a mild annoyance, but I have turned it into productive and focused work time in the middle of the night. I wish I could say it was a part of my plan, but I have to call this one a happy accident.


  4. I am very guarded of my time, so I almost never ever overcommit (e.g., I don’t take on commitments that will make me resentful). And I’m with Jocelyn–I learned early on to enlist, er, involve my kids in daily responsibilities as soon as they are able. (As an aside, I highly recommend Wendy Mogel’s “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee,” which talks about giving kids tasks in their early years.) In addition to having responsible children, now 14 and 9, it is so liberating not to feel like I am constantly picking up after their messes or making their lunches or cleaning their rooms, etc. And most importantly, they need to learn to do those things for themselves if they are ever to become self-sufficient and invested in their own lives.

    Many years ago I left high-paying law firm work because I value my time over money any day.


  5. A few years ago I had mono, and while I was still able to go to work each day, I’d have to come home and go right to bed for 3-4 hours…I couldn’t even think about eating anything I was so tired! Then I’d wake up for a couple of hours, then sleep for 3-4 more hours. Rinse & repeat. And it was wonderful! A little weird at first but I found that I was still getting enough sleep (even though it was way more than I’d normally need) and I’d do things like put in a load of laundry or do the dishes when I had the energy rather than when I thought I “had” to.


  6. Since having my daughter two.5 years ago I often wonder what on earth i did with all the time i had before she arrived. Days taken to make a decision….lollying around and getting absolutely nothing done. I feel like i could have ruled the world if i had any concept of time management. Now i can get more done during a nap that i ever accomplished in hours back then. I also noticed i never have time for me anymore. and those are the trade-off and that’s how it works and it won’t always be like this, but i needed a little somethn somethn, so i started to wake up at 6am. my husband gets up at 7 and my daughter at 7:30, so i have one fully hour to roam around a perfectly quiet house. write, read, drink leisurely coffee. it’s a short time, but it’s fulfilling.


  7. Recently, I realized that waking up with only 1 and a half hours before work was making my 14-hour days all the more stressed and frazzled! I had barely enough time to shower and get ready. AND the later I leave the house for my commute, the heavier (and stressful) traffic is! Then I come home at night (to a house full of roomates) exhausted and yearning for alone time. I now wake up 45 minutes earlier to turn on music, enjoy a shower and relax a little with a coffee before I leave the house. Starting the day in peace really sets a good tone for a long day.


  8. The two-shift idea sounds very interesting! I’d love to give it a try and see if I still feel well-rested in the morning. Currently I make more time for myself by waking up in the morning before everyoe else does and taking my time getting ready for the day.


  9. I make lists! And I write the things I want to do for FUN on the lists! Then I am making time for them.

    But I still feel rushed, so maybe it doesn’t work.


  10. i LOVE this idea of the middle of the night solitude for work, reading, me time. as a new mama i never feel like i have enough quiet time. some mornings i wake up an hour before everyone else and head to the studio while enjoying my coffee as the sun comes up and the birds are chirping. the middle of the night “break”….maybe when my daughter starts school :O)
    thanks for the thoughtful post!!


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