“The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” -Moliere
In the past, I haven’t been a very patient person. And why not be: We live in a world of instant coffee, five-minute microwave dinners, one-hour photos. Pizza will arrive in thirty minutes, or it’s free. Go, go, go, the world tells us. So we move.
One trick I learned recently from the writings of now departed life expert Richard Carlson is to schedule an extra 20 minutes for everything. From classes to appointments to meetings, I make sure I appoint +20 minutes into my planner.
At first, this felt counterproductive. After all, if you have three classes, two meetings, and a gym appointment, that’s two hours. Considering you only spend 16 hours awake, that’s a good 12.5% of your day. You’re crazy, my ultra type-A readers must be thinking.
Yet hear me out. After a few days, I felt I had more time to spend studying, writing blog posts, and exercising. I actually felt the quality of my work improve. Without always concentrating on getting this done so I could get to that, I could focus on the task at hand more completely.
Something wonderful happened, too. I realized I was a lot more relaxed when I was arriving to classes and appointments early. I no longer felt anxious or hurried in the car. I started to finally be able to have a few of those Zen moments Oprah always talks about. I noticed the beauty of the trees behind the billboards. I took a few long overdue deep breaths. And, most importantly, I felt more able to devote myself to listening, to being fully present in each moment.
Is this a work in progress? You bet. Since I started doing this, I am also more inclined to notice small details: a chip in my manicure, shoes piled up on the floor, that sort of thing. Yet the increase in focus, concentration, and overall well-being I’ve experienced makes me want to shout from the rooftops for you to try it. It’s an amazing thing, when you realize you have all the time in the world, if only you stop filling every second with activity.
If you liked this post, you would probably like some of my favorite books:
- The Day that Turns Your Life Around, by Jim Rohn.
- Finding Your North Star, by Martha Beck.
- The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, by Jack Canfield
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – and It’s All Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson
- The Best Advice I Ever Got – Lessons from Extraordinary Lives, by Katie Couric