COLUMN: The quest for a little more time

Hours keep adding up, one at a time, until the result is a full calendar and a busy life

I spent a portion of my weekend setting the clocks in my house as we switched from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time.

My computer and phone adjusted to the time change automatically, but the other clocks around the house — the ones on the stove, the microwave, the coffee maker, the thermostat, my alarm clock and a few others — all had to be set manually.

Changing these clocks reminded me once again how much my life is governed by time, and these days, I don’t have enough time for all the things I’d like to accomplish.

By itself, the one-hour switch early Sunday morning isn’t enough to keep me from achieving my goals, because one hour alone isn’t a lot of time.

A single hour is a little more than four per cent of a day, or around one-seventh of one per cent of a month.

Over the course of a lifetime or even a single year, one hour seems like a trivial amount.

And yet, hours keep adding up, one at a time, until the result is a full calendar and a busy life. Sometimes it seems a little too busy.

In addition to my work here at the Summerland Review, I’m also involved in a number of other activities. I’m on a few boards and committees and I have taken on several other projects.

In my study at home, I’ve got a sizeable stack of paperwork I need to sort through. None of it is time-sensitive, but it still needs to be processed.

There are also a few minor home renovations and repairs on my list. They don’t have to be done immediately, but I still need to get to them.

And the list of books and articles on my reading list is huge. I’d need many months to read through them all.

Each of these things takes time.

For a board meeting or a committee meeting, I need to block out two to three hours for the meeting itself, and another two to three hours to prepare. The same holds true for other projects. I need enough time to accomplish the things that are important to me.

Every couple of years, when the workload seems too heavy, I’ll drop something off my list of commitments. But soon afterward, something else will come in to fill its place.

What I’m experiencing isn’t anything unusual. Of the working people I know, each one could tell a similar story. Each one is involved with volunteer commitments, professional development or significant personal projects. Those things are in addition to working full-time hours or longer.

It’s not easy to keep up with these many demands, and most if not all of us feel the pressure of trying to fit a lot into a limited amount of time.

The time constraints can feel stressful, especially since there’s no way for me to add more hours into my days.

But it could be worse.

A few years ago, one person I knew told me how he would wake up each morning and count down the hours until bedtime. He said he had nothing to fill his days.

What he described is something I don’t understand and something I don’t ever want to experience.

Given the choice between boredom and being a bit too busy, I’d rather keep my full schedule — even if it seems overwhelming at times.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.