Is Transition Time Eating Up Your Day?
Does anyone else find that a really huge and annoying percentage of the day seems to take place not actually doing things, but getting ready to do things and tidying back up after the things have been done?
"Going to the gym," for example, may consist of working out for an hour or so, but is that how much time you need to budget for it?
No, of course not! Not unless you work as a personal trainer or have a home gym and happen to spend all day in your gym clothes, ready to go at any moment. Oh, and you'd also need to manage to work out vigorously without perspiring.
Depending on your routine, "going to the gym" could also consist of finding your car keys or bus pass, collecting all your gear, getting out the front door and remembering you've forgotten something, starting all over again, driving, finding parking, waiting in line at the front desk, chatting with friends, changing into workout clothes, using the restroom, working out (which could also including waiting for machines or class to start or whatever), going back to the locker room, trying to remember which day locker you put your stuff in, stripping off your sweaty clothes, showering, drying your hair, applying deodorant/lotion/sunscreen/make-up or whatever you tend to slather on yourself, putting on your clothes again, getting back into your car... and then, finally, getting ready to do the next thing.
Don't You Hate It When You Realize
You've Forgotten Something Important?
Photo by NataliaEnvy
You've Forgotten Something Important?
Photo by NataliaEnvy
And yet, some folks stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that life is like this. They are surprised, every single time, when things take so much longer that they should. How come the day is over already and so many things didn't get done?
It's my theory that people who tend to be lead healthy, balanced, productive, yet stress-free lives are often really good at mastering transitions.
Alas, I am not one of those people.
I would further hypothesize that there are at least two important components to mastering transitions, both of which I suck at. But if you, unlike me, actually want to work on these two things, perhaps you can be one of those Successful, Balanced, Healthy, Stress-Free Productive People!
1. Prepare Ahead or Improvise?
Some people are natural "prepare ahead" types; others may have to try to teach themselves this skill. Pack your gym bag the night before your workout! Make a list of things you need to pick up after work! Have a single place to keep your keys so you don't put them down all over the house and then forget where! Think through meal planning, shop for days/weeks/months in advance, cut things up for the week ahead, make extra portions to freeze for later, and have lots of matching food storage containers that are not warped and actually have tops!
There are people out there who actually do all this stuff, consistently, and you rarely see them at work all wild-haired because they forgot to bring a brush to the gym, or guiltily scarfing sad vending machine items because they didn't manage to pack a healthy lunch.
Those of us who wait until we're hungry for dinner and then stare into the refrigerator and realize we need to go shopping unless we want to make a meal out of microwave popcorn and canned tuna and raisins? And then three hours later we're back from the store and actually finally eating something and wondering if the dishes will just this once agree to do themselves because, damn it, it's bed time already?
We're the ones who don't tend to get stuff checked off our "to do" lists very often. (Not that we're very good about making them in the first place).
2. Philosophical or Frantic?
Whether you prepare well or not, there's a certain amount of transition time that everyone has to go through. We need to gather things up, we need to get ourselves places, we must wait in lines and endure delays and deal with things that break at the wrong time or people that don't do what we want them to.
Some people take a very Zen* approach to everyday transitions. Life is life! Might as well enjoy each precious moment! So what if those moments are piling up and you're stuck in a long line at the grocery store and the cash register does something funny but the clerk doesn't know how to fix it and the supervisor is busy elsewhere and no one is opening another checkstand and a little boy is screaming Mommy Mommy Mommy Lookit Me Lookit Me over and over and over but Mommy is still not Lookitting?
Smile! It is what it is. You'll be out of there soon enough. We'll all be "outta here" soon enough.
Anyway, others of us are not so Zen. We get frustrated and make ourselves miserable; we rush and so we forget things; we get anxious and frantic and fumbly so we drop things and lose things and break things. We try to extract revenge on obstinate inanimate objects or, better yet, find culpable humans to blame when things go wrong. We rage and fume and fret and worry, which doesn't get us through our transitions any faster or more happily. Yet to change our approach? That would mean effort!
Perhaps some day I'll join the Stress-Free Healthy Balanced Productive People Crowd, and life will seem like it's all Doing! and not so much the Getting Ready and Cleaning Up!
But then it just wouldn't be Cranky Fitness, would it?
How about you folks, are you all Prepared and Zen, or do you struggle with all the extra crap that gets in the way of Doing?
*Like many health and personal development bloggers, I often invoke "Zen" principles without having any idea what Zen is about, liking the sound of it but being too lazy to educate myself. Actual Zen people--feel free to make tsking noises, if you Zen folk are allowed to do things like that.