Time Management

This column was published Sunday, February 10, 2019 in The Manhattan Mercury.


“Oh, time! The beautifier of the dead, adorer of the ruin, comforter and only healer when the heart hath bled. Time, the avenger.”

--Lord Byron

I wrote this column more than a week ago.

The words you’re reading now were strung together on a drizzly, foggy Groundhog Day morning in the relative quiet and solitude of the Manhattan Public Library, comfortably ensconced between the reference section and the administrative offices. I’m at that 4-top table on the second floor. There’s a massive floor-to-roof window facing south, affording a generous view of the parking lot and the comings and goings of Saturday morning library patrons.

I could really go for a cup of coffee but have learned through time and experience that the writing of newspaper columns and coffee shop din don’t mix, so I’ll trade the caffeine jones for the creativity that tends to flow in relative quiet, also learned through time and experience.

Outa the library by noon. 12:30 at the latest.

Outa the library by noon. 12:30 at the latest.

Under normal circumstances, I’d brew a pot of Strong Enough To Walk and write from the comfort of the overstuffed easy chair in the living room, but we have a guy doing some interior wall repair/painting and he likes to manage his time knocking out a few hours on Saturday mornings.

When she was a pup, our youngest dog chewed a few chunks of drywall and we finally grew weary of living in a house with a few chunks of chewed drywall. The work is part of a long-term plan, which ends with a move. That time arc starts with a dream and ends with living in the country. Somewhere along that arc, the wife-husband conversation will get real and we want to have the house ready to sell.

My wife’s been out of town on business most of the week and assuming no delays, wheels down at MHK is 1:43 p.m. It’s a little after 10 a.m. right now. Before airport spousal retrieval, in addition to writing this column, I have a couple of errands to run, and I visualize the clock.

The grocery list in my pocket reads, “coffee, coffee filters, Kleenexes and trash bags,” so before the airport, I’ll need to allot some time for speed-dating in the paper products aisle. Twenty minutes should do it.

My car looks as though muddy dogs have romped throughout, owing to the fact that muddy dogs have romped throughout. Start to finish, that’s a 30-minute cleanup. Working the clock backward, I’ll want to be at the airport at 1:30, give myself roughly an hour for the errands, which means I need to be done here at the library somewhere between noon and 12:30.

The deadline for this column is 5 p.m. Wednesday, but I have a day job, this column is a side gig and when I examine the calendar for the coming week, blocks of time available for creative column writing are non-existent.

Tomorrow, we’re in Miami County for a family baptism, then it’s home for the Chiefsless Super Bowl, so Sunday’s out.

By the time you’re reading this column, we’ll be weekending in Chicago, something we simply would not do, absent twice-daily direct flights from Manhattan. Without that convenience, the cost/benefit analysis of weekending in Chicago will always come down heavily on cost, light on benefit.

All things being equal, we land at 3:04 p.m., this afternoon. Then it’s back home (in 15 minutes) to manage another 168 hours. This week will feature the installation of new carpeting and all the time-driven logistics tacked on.

Part of the home improvement schtick is minimizing, so using Facebook Marketplace, I’ve attempted to part with some stuff. Thought I had a TV sold, until the buyer agreed to three separate times for pickup, only to miss all three. I don’t have time for these kinds of shenanigans, so I cut her loose and re-posted the TV.

Only then, did I contemplate the socio-economic status of those who buy their TVs and furniture on Facebook Marketplace. Next came thoughts about the lives led by haves and have-nots in our community and the fact that the haves have time management frames of reference and proficiencies that the have-nots simply have not.

What I perceived as poor time management skills, may not have existed at all. Then I felt crappy. Especially, since a mantra to which I try to adhere is, ‘do the next right thing, do the next thing right.’ I failed on the TV transaction.

Byron and his latter-day counterpart, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders, were wrong. “I thought that time was on my side, but now it’s time the avenger.” I don’t need to take vengeance or exact satisfaction from the clock. I do need to recognize not everyone sees it like I do.