So…I’ve been spending a lot of time in the car lately. One of my clients is about a two hour and 20 minute drive (round trip) from the office. For a number of months now I have been making this drive a couple of times each week, and my biggest dilemma has been, “How do I make the most of this time, in the car, by myself?”
The first couple of weeks, I listened to music. A lot. I signed up for an unlimited music subscription and played all my favorite songs over and over…and over. After about a month I realized it wasn’t a long-term solution and I was starting to detest some of what used to be my favorite songs. In my quest to make the most of this time, I found the wonderful world of podcasts. I’m in my 40’s so it takes me a little longer to catch on to all things “technology,” but a number of people I know listen to podcasts so I thought I’d give it a try. I started out listening to soccer podcasts which eventually evolved into other sports podcasts. I then started adding more topics like church, self-help, celebrity interviews, real life stories, etc.
So! Much! Information!!!
I don’t want to complain as there were some good nuggets I found listening to some of these, but I again started thinking of other ways to fill this space of time. (I’ll admit that watching a movie crossed my mind. If I could just download the movie ahead of time so I don’t go over on my data plan, and mount the phone on the dashboard where I could see it, I could…ok, don’t judge. It was a quick thought, I never would have gone through with it.) Then it hit me, why am I trying to fill this time? What is at my core telling me I must fill every second with something stimulating? I had an Oprah “ah-ha moment.” I have been given a quiet space and I’m not taking advantage of it. Instead, I’m trying to fill it with something…anything.
It has become so easy to fill up our time with meaningless things that add no value to our lives. Marketing, social media, TV and on-demand, cell phones, iPads, iPods, gaming devices, radio…the list goes on and on. Society tells us that we aren’t productive if we don’t fill every waking second with something stimulating. Information is continuously put in front of us, and we believe we need to process it as quickly as possible to make room for more information. It’s like information gluttony. Don’t get me wrong, I think we are blessed beyond measure and I’m thankful every day for the freedoms we get to experience in America. But, at some point it is okay, and healthy, to find some quiet space to get away from all the craziness and information that’s thrown our way.
As with anything, I believe in balance. I’m not saying that I’ve stopped listening to podcasts altogether nor do I sit in my car for 6 hours a week in silence. But I have come to a place where I enjoy shutting it off for the last 30 minutes of my drive to enjoy the opportunity to sit in almost complete silence. For others, this may be a challenge.
The point is, what are you filling your time with and how are you using the valuable time you have? Whether its 30 minutes in the car, your lunch break once a week, or a 20 minute walk in the evening, it’s okay to separate yourself from electronics. We are gifted with a finite number of days and hours. How are we using that time?