Recently, I heard a radio commercial for sheets, and, if I’m to believe the company’s spokesman, there’s something about his company’s sheets that will save some of our most valuable intangible, time.
During the 60-second spot, the spokesman told me there were special markings on the fitted sheet to differentiate the length from width, thereby making it quicker to put the sheet on the mattress.
I laughed, thinking, hmmm, what kind of time am I really saving here? After all, I’ve put enough fitted sheets on mattresses to know that if they don’t fit in one direction, there’s really only one other way they can, something I can execute in, say, ten seconds max.
The commercial reminded me of what I see just before Lady Jane and I ride our bikes. I have an app on my phone called Pacer, which tracks all sorts of interesting data about our rides. When I press the center circle before pushing off to start the tracking, a countdown begins with a message at the bottom of the phone screen that says, “Skip countdown.” Wow, someone else is interested in helping me save time? That really would be great if the countdown were longer than what it really is, which 3…2…1.
So, hypothetically if I purchased those special sheets and started my Pacer app without the countdown for a ride on the same day, I can bank a total of thirteen seconds. Certainly, an extra thirteen seconds to get other things done in my day is hardly the same feeling I get in the fall when we all grab that extra hour with which to do what we want or even the feeling in the spring when we all spring ahead and lose that hour but, in doing so, also gain that extra hour of daylight to enjoy the outside before the curtain is drawn on another day.
Now, I’ve always been a pretty good time-saving guy, although I’m not real sure what I could put my finger on when it comes to what specific extra items I’ve gotten done with the saved time.
As a kid, I always laid out my clothes for the next day before hopping into bed. Of course, in the summer especially, they were the same clothes I’d just peeled off a few hours earlier, if I thought I could slip by Mom to start playing outside pretty much all day back in my early 1960s. Now, in those play-all-day, stress-free days, I suppose I really didn’t need to be too concerned about saving time to get more important things done, given the shortness of my important-things list, but perhaps I felt I should get in the habit of trying to save time for when I became an adult.
Once I did reach my adulthood, beginning with my first year in my first Perry High School classroom after Miami University officials handed me a diploma on an early June day back in ’73 and gently nudged me toward Oxford’s city limits. Suddenly, with lesson plans and stacks of papers to grade and other teaching-related duties, saving time suddenly became far more important to me.
The day I set aside for time-saving preparations was Sunday as I anticipated another full week in the classroom. As for my sartorial presentation, I took the time to line up in the closet five days’ worth of outfits- five shirts, five ties, five pairs of slacks so that I could just go on down the closet line early each morning and grab what was next in order to get to school early enough to get work done long before the kids arrived. This aligning of the clothes actually continued for all 32 years in which I taught. The further down the teaching road I got, the more work I had, so I felt even saving a few minutes could get me to the front steps of Memorial High School in St. Marys by 5:15 rather than 5:30 a.m. for the work I wanted to accomplish before the 8 a.m. beginning-of-the-day announcements.
Additionally, Sundays also found me in the kitchen making all five of my brown-bag lunches for the week and jamming them in the fridge lined up for quick early-morning grabbing. In my final and busiest few years, these would be lunches eaten in my classroom so I could work as I ate, that is until I began consorting with Jane in my final couple of years and eating lunch with her next door in her classroom. Hey, I was, without question, a workaholic, but I could be swayed to take a little time off mid-day when a beautiful lady was involved! Much to Jane’s amusement, because the bags were pressed back on the fridge shelf, the sandwiches I extracted often were flattened considerably and resembled something that would make many a true sandwich lover weep.
And, of course, throughout my adult life, those shaving and showering rituals have always been executed before bedtime. After all, as a 40-plus-hour worker even in my 68th year and newspaper work to do before I head out the door to the full-time job, saving time for me is still vitally important.
Overall, in our quest to save some time, I suppose, it’s a question of learning where to save time by letting some of the insignificant items in life go to free up more time for what really matters.
In other words, using the words of Peter Turla, president of the National Time Management Institute, “Don’t get sidetracked stomping on ants when you have elephants to feed.”
And, of course, it takes time to feed those pachyderms!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.