“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss.
I have a really messed up relationship with time.
It’s okay, the first step is to admit you have a problem. I’m pretty sure this problem is a result of my job as a project manager. My projects last anywhere from 3 months to 12 months, but I would say the length of a typical project is about 5 months. I look at the timeline for a 5 month project and always think, “we are going to run out of time.” In between meetings, travel, emails and squinting at the screen…the weeks melt away and before you know it, the 5th month is here and I always find myself in full-on scramble mode. Now, I will say…it always gets done…but this type of work cycle has really affected my relationship with time. If my boss said to me “Hey, we’ve got three months to get this done” I start to privately hyperventilate and squeak out “Okay…sure!” when I am actually thinking “THREEMONTHSISNOTHING!!!” Now, I realize the projects I run are complicated, with many moving parts…and I typically have 2-5 running concurrently. However, I realized that my concept of ‘project time’ had begun to creep into my personal life when I had the following two thoughts:
Thought #1. We’ve only got three months in Europe, which means we aren’t going to be able to see anything.
Thought #2. Our trip is only three months away, that’s not enough time to prepare.
Believe it or not, I only realized that the above statements are not only untrue, but ridiculous, after waking from a recent dream.
<insert dream sequence music and wibbly screen transition here>
Me, my best friend and a god-awful harpy that I worked with years ago, have just arrived in Europe. My best friend is one of the sweetest people on the planet, however, dream-BFF was being incredibly disagreeable for some reason and The Harpy refused to wait for us and purposely rolled over my feet with her horrendous zebra-striped rolley suitcase. It was the first stop on our Europe itinerary and we were being jostled about on a railway platform. Someone had stolen my guidebook, which contained the only copy of our itinerary and I couldn’t remember the next place we had to go, or any of the other cities we had planned to visit. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to buy a guidebook in English and that we were basically screwed…destined to spend the next 3 months in utter misery. I distinctly remember thinking “oh my god, I have to deal with this for 3 more months. That is FOREVER.”
Then I woke up.
For whatever reason, contemplating 3 months of utter misery made me realize that 3 months is a LONG TIME. I write this 3 months before we are scheduled to leave for Europe, which coincidentally, is the same amount of time we have to explore that beautiful continent. I am going to be working furiously on three projects, right up to the wire and then jump on a plane. The months that follow that flight will be exciting, exhausting, frustrating, and will fly by…but not as fast as I think.
It’s time to re-wire my brain in preparation for this trip. If I don’t start switching wires now, my brain may explode at the sudden lack of deadlines.
Here’s to my brain not exploding. Hopefully, John isn’t planning on buying a zebra-striped backpack.