Editor’s Note: Ticking Time

Headshot: Marisa Palmieri
Headshot: Marisa Palmieri

Busyness is a way of life for many of us. Ask someone how they’re doing, and there’s a good chance he or she will reply, “Busy!”

I’m constantly amazed by the landscape and lawn care business owners I’ve met who are running their companies, coaching kids’ sports teams, engaging with civic organizations, spending time on hobbies and more. I wonder how many of them do it, don’t appear to be frazzled and yet make room for a call with an editor of a trade magazine. Many of them seem to have all the time in the world.

People like this are the exception. In fact, according to a 2015 Gallup survey on time stress, 61 percent of people who are employed say they don’t have time to do the things they want to do. The figure was also six in 10 for people who have children at home.

When it comes to time management, a cliché comes to mind. As most parents have been told a time or two, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

Doesn’t that feel like the truth? And wouldn’t it be nice if you could find a way to slow down time to make it feel like more of your time is spent off the clock?

That’s the premise of Laura Vanderkam’s book “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done.” Her approach isn’t like a typical productivity book where the author simply shares what works for herself. She is a proponent of tracking your time in half hour increments and has been doing it for years, so she can’t simply make the excuse that she’s too busy to do X, Y or Z.

Vanderkam is clearly a numbers person, calculating how many weeks she is likely to have left on this earth based on life expectancy data.

“If I live to age 83.4, I have just 45 more times to see the flowers bloom in the spring, and I will shuffle off this mortal coil precisely as they bloom that 45th time,” wrote the author, who was born in 1978.

This horticulture example made me think of our readers—most of whom are men with a shorter life expectancy than her—who are well in tune with the ebbs and flows of growing seasons.

In preparation for her book, Vanderkam conducted a time diary study by recruiting 900 people who are employed and have children at home. She surveyed them about their perception of time—whether they felt like they had enough time for the things they wanted to do.

The results from the people who do believe they have enough time are interesting and instructive. These people:

  • Are mindful of their time, accept ownership for it and also reflect on their lives;
  • Are adventurous, seeking rich experiences that create memories;
  • Edit out things that don’t add value to their lives—like constant phone checks;
  • Know how to linger in the present;
  • Spend their resources to maximize happiness and can cope with unpleasantness;
  • Let go of perfection and seek steady progress; and
  • Spend quality time with friends and family.

I recommend this book to anyone looking to feel more fulfilled and less frantic, which surveys show are the majority of us these days.

Marisa Palmieri

Marisa Palmieri

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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