Time - 6 minute units vs self care

We are 'human beings' not 'human doings' after all...

Billable hours. How can you account (and charge) for every 6 minutes of your existence? Obviously I mean at work. In the legal profession one unit of time is 6 minutes. So the hour is split into 10 units for time recording purposes - which is evidence we have been working and making the firm money. This method is so ingrained that I still use units to assess time spent even in non legal professional work.

It can become an integral part of assessing how you value both yourself and what you do. Not least as it may be a point of discussion in any appraisal or annual review. If you are not able to justify your time that must mean you wasted it…

And then this leaks into non-work time. Finding it difficult to just sit and do nothing at home? Finding you need to justify why it would make you more productive if you did take that walk outside in the fresh air? Ever have a panicked feeling when you notice just how much of the day has gone and your brain quickly scans what you’ve done so far to try and calm you down?

Oh yes, I have spent more than my share of days off trying to enforce the damn things with myself.
How oxymoronic: forcing relaxation!

It's true there is much research that sleep, relaxation, walks, etc are all good for our brains, thinking ability, and productivity, and yes if that’s the only way at the moment that you can allow yourself the much needed down time then go for it - justify away!

But it does beg the question - do we really need to have a science backed justification to value your down time? Or has something gone a bit wonky and need to change?


So, lets work this out...


I am exhausted/I have the whole afternoon to myself/I want to make the most of this time

Mind worm:

What will I have to show for my time? I am just being lazy. What will I say when my other half comes back and asks "so what have you done?" ? How can I even think of wasting my time doing something just for me when I have so much to do, so much I should be doing?

Past stories:

'So and so' teacher once called me lazy when I was at school. I can't even remember who it was that once questioned my commitment. I need to prove them wrong. I am not lazy or uncommited. I need to prove that to myself (all the time and forever). I need to get it done or the shit will hit the fan again.

I get praise, recognition, and/or appreciation when I get stuff done for them. I don't want to let anyone or myself down.

Mind reading:

What would they say if they knew, especially when I go on about how busy I am and I work longer hours than they would like me to? What about my friends that I never have time to see? 'So and so' never feels like they need time off so why do I?

Predicting the future:

Well if I sit on my arse all afternoon reading or go for a walk then I will never get that job finished and I will have no-one to blame but myself and I will end up behind, stressed, and beating myself up. If I just get it done first THEN I will have time to do that for me…

First, let's subtract the shit:

Let those thoughts go… don’t panic you haven't lost them or anything important. Just for a few minutes imagine none of those thoughts to be true - allow them to float on. Now just take a second to work out how that feels.

Magic wand time:
Given the space you have just created in your brain, ask your body what it needs from you. Ask yourself what you could do to meet this need. Use the magic wand (as in, 'if anything was possible') to help you.

Given there is no real failure (unless we really want to see it that way so we can more heartily beat ourselves up), and there are only opportunities to learn, tweak, and grow, why not try doing whatever you just thought of?

And then see what happens? Whether it is a nap/walk for an hour before you then start on that task to see whether it does actually help you be more focused and productive? Maybe it makes you less irritable when you interact with others later?

Test it to see whether the research and your body is right in its suggestion for you in that moment. If not, you still have made progress because now you know more, and next time that will help guide you to try something else :0)