Time to grow

My relationship with time is complicated (honestly, it can be a bit ridiculous). When I have to spend time doing something that doesn’t create value or move things forward, I tend to look on that time as a waste. It drives me nuts. Up until the beginning of 2019, commuting to and from work fell into that waste category. Spending 30-35 minutes in traffic each day would get me stressed if I wasn’t in the office by a certain time. Plus I’d dedicate way too much energy on things like the optimal lane to be in, the drivers I thought had suffered a head injury, and calculating how long before I’d be at my desk. It seems so silly now when I write that out.

Let me now introduce a bias I’d been carrying around: I don’t like audiobooks. For years I’d held onto this notion and had only ever listened to one audiobook. I believed that the physical act of reading let me better absorb the material, that only in print could I easily re-read a paragraph or refer back by flipping to a page. When it came to books, I was rooted in a fixed mindset – closed off to change and not willing to get into uncomfortable territory of what could be. Fortunately that all changed, and it took me confronting my bias head on and making the conscious choice to get uncomfortable.

Back to the topic of time, something I had been grappling with was not dedicating enough time to reading. I love reading but the amount I spent doing it had fallen dramatically and I knew I wanted to change that. So I decided to run an experiment when I came back from my time off over the holidays: I would try to use my time commuting to listen to audiobooks. My hypothesis was this would change my view on the time spent to and from work and would address my desire to spend more time reading.

What an incredible success! I played with the setup in my car a bit to find the right experience and have become hooked. In the first three weeks of being back at work, I’d read (listened to?) two audiobooks and have started a third. I haven’t read this much in such a short span in years and it feels amazing. I don’t stress about traffic or delays nearly as much and am actively reading books instead of looking at them on the shelf with disappointment.

One more case that proves small changes add up to a big impact. And the biggest barrier in all of this? Me carrying around a fixed mindset about audiobooks. A great reminder that there’s always somewhere in our lives where we can spend some time to grow.

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