Sixty Seconds

“Forgetting what’s important should never be easy.” JSM

-Filed Away-

Each time I’m asked to attend an event, go out with friends or join a social activity, I need consistent reminders; and I feel terrible about it. Always have, always will.

I have to write details down in two different easily noticeable locations; be it a calendar hanging from the wall or a piece of scrap paper taped to my desk, and then as a fail safe I’ll set a digital reminder, alarm, or notification for a back up.

My hours, days, and weeks are a blur. A non-stop flow of time. One day bleeds into the next, to the next, to the next, routine, robotic (yes… I do have fun. My universe is anything but boring) and be as efficient as I can manage.

-Flashback-

When in a senior position at a facility I helped operate for a number of years, we once had a staff meeting. The topic of conversation, was time.

The statement from the General Manager was simple. “Close your eyes and I’ll let you know when sixty seconds is up.”

Each member of the group closed their eyes, the room silenced, and when the minute was finally clicked on the stopwatch, “Now open your eyes. Did it seem like a long time?”

The staff members blinked away the dark, smiled at one another around the table, and the cross dialogue started promptly.

“That took forever. Maddening. So boring. That was a really long time. I almost fell asleep. Wow, even counting in my head was super long. Uggg, the light hurts my eyes. Why the hell did we have to do this?”

The reply was work related and right to the point. If one minute seemed like an eternity, boring and bordering on the verge of madness, a full minute of monotonous tedium, imagine what can be completed during that time.

Sixty seconds.

I jumped on that theory and ran with it as hard as I could.

I timed each and every work related task I had at that facility. I timed how long it would take to vacuum each carpet in the building working at best possible speed, bagging up all the trash, driving to the bank for deposits and needed coins, counter cleaning, back room stocking, machinery usage, to mixing a Margarita. Everything was timed. I knew I only needed nine minutes to mop the building from front to back, eight minutes to cash out my drawer, three to assist a new customer…

My work life centered around minutes and usage of time.

The information garnished from that staff meeting was invaluable to me.

Because I understood the timing and the length of time to complete a task, delegating to the staff was simplified. “Please do this for me. It’ll take three minutes total, and shave time off for the other project(s).”

In sixty seconds I was able to preform a multitude of chores simultaneously. Stocking drinks, condiments and refilling the napkins–sixty seconds. Spinning the combination and opening the floor safe and making change–sixty seconds. Pouring the perfect pitcher of soda–less than sixty seconds.

Time became important to me, and in the here and now, my personal life isn’t any different.

I know I need two minutes to fill the washer and six minutes to fold the laundry–four if only towels and hand cloths. Five to seven minutes to take out my dog–depending on how finicky she’s feeling or if it’s raining outside she may take longer. Eight to eleven minutes to do the dishes–depending on what I find in my kid’s rooms after the fact, and nine minutes to vacuum the floors upstairs and down and sweep up the clumps of dog hair hiding in corners. I try to multitask and ensure all the food items in our meals are timed to be completed in unison, and tidy the kitchen up while I’m waiting.

I try. It’s not a perfect system or routine, but I try. Having variables, mostly unforeseen, will create situations where monkey wrenches are thrown into the works unexpectedly, but I adjust my time accordingly, assimilate the new information and continue.

Since re-adopting that mentality, I’ve come to appreciate time more, as I get older. The second I arrive at the homestead from work, the kids routine is managed and homework done, chow is cooked, I’ve completed all my requirements, chores are finished for the day and everything was accomplished in less than ninety minutes to include the grocery shopping, my free time becomes unlimited. Until the moment I can’t keep my eyes open any more, that is.

In essence, from five forty five (sometimes longer depending on the variables) in the afternoon, until just shy of midnight, is free time for me. Even more so when I have the house to myself. Weekends and holidays? The sky’s the limit.

It wasn’t always like that however. What I call “Capturing Time” is a re-adopted philosophy. Capturing Time was a way of life at work, because of it’s productivity value. The philosophy wasn’t ever brought into personal life.

At the house I once paid a mortgage, in the old life, I sat and rested during my time off. Less than productive. What needed to be done was all I wanted to do. Let’s call it the bare minimum.

Many years ago.

Today however, I work twelve hour days, every day, and I force myself to take time off. I work in the office at the job for eight hours, and I sit at the home computer for four. Those four hours are divvied up between a variety of subjects. A balance.

Depending on the mood, situation and variables, it’s been two or three hours sometimes when needed.

I’ve worked (almost) every day for five years. I haven’t had a “vacation” in almost six. I’ve had extended weekends here and there, personal days and sick time used, but no week long getaways in going on six long years. If I’m not working in the job office, I’m working at the home.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A vacation will come someday and it will be glorious time.

triumph

Until that time though, I’ll keep on trucking.

I was asked many years ago, if I had sixty seconds to run inside my burning home and grab one item of importance, what would it be?

Only sixty seconds.

The answer is my filing cabinet. It may be constructed of heavy wood and weighs eighty pounds, but it’s on wheels and I could roll it to the door if needed. The two drawer filing cabinet holds my life: Memory sticks, class photos of the kiddos, their drawings from infancy, three ring binders from the early old life, family photos from the days of childhood, important documents, tax information and heaps more material. Unfortunately, the contents have never had an order or filing system applied. Everything within was just shoved inside and, if nothing else, merely considered safe.

In the third month on the Island, opening up the bottom drawer and sifting through the inside, I knew I was looking for something specific. I know I wrote it down. Where?… somewhere… that’s where. That old, raggity beaten up dream journal? Oh man, that’s probably long gone by now. Ten moves in fourteen years? Yeah… that’s long gone. Did you file the pages elsewhere? Is it in here? What’s in this?

I pulled out a binder from my stint of college English and filtered through the old pages. Paper clipped together, at the back of the pile was a bundle of torn papers and the ink seemed faded to the point of illegible.

I set the binder down and dug into the cabinet further.

Over the next hour I had the wheeled box emptied out, dusted and cleaned, and everything that was once inside, had been organized and spread across the floor in neat stacks.

Books discovered that demanded addition to my small library. Paycheck stubs long forgotten jammed in a back corner wrapped in a rubber band. Binders stuffed and crammed with wrinkled and ancient sketches, doodles, notations, quotes and substance induced poetry. Three beaten up, spiral bound, journal-like notebooks with the pens still attached, clipped to the cover, sat in a stack in their own corner, and I added to a separate individual pile all my tax filings and financial paperwork.

I stood up and surveyed the large diverse rainbow shape decorating my floor. I needed to prioritize.

Returning to my work desk I retrieved my manila folders. I labeled them accordingly and initiated the new and improved filing system.

The bliss I felt continued to expand, and I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. Discovering ancient artifacts of an old existence. Items that should’ve never been forgotten.

At 8:57, a quick rap on the glass door, and Shelby went crazy.

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