Monday, January 26, 2009

Just a Minute ....

How many times a day do you say, “Just a minute?” Do you say it to your co-workers, children or spouse? And, honestly, how long is that minute? Really? How often do we say, “just a minute” and really mean it?

One day, just for fun, I set the timer on my oven for “1 minute” to see what I could get done in those 60 seconds. I could go back to the laundry room and change loads. I could run upstairs and use the bathroom. I could line up all of the shoes by the door and have time to spare. I could call Time & Temp. to find out how cold it is here in Minnesota. When I put my mind to it, I could stretch that minute pretty thin and get quite a bit done.

On the other hand, if you say, “I’ll be there in a minute” it’s amazing how compressed that time gets. What we intend to happen in 60 seconds or less takes much longer. It might be 5, 10 or even 30 minutes before we finally get where we promised to be. I know people for whom “a minute” is really an imaginary time. It could mean sooner or later. It could mean sometime today, but definitely before tomorrow.

Over the years I’ve found that people have different orientations to time. Some are exact literalists: “You said 5 minutes, but it’s been 7!” Others are generalists: “I’ll be there when I get there.” Personally, I lean towards the literal perspective, but have learned to give myself margins. For example, if I need to be somewhere at 7:00, I aim at 6:45 (and work backwards from that time in figuring how long it will take to get myself and kids out the door). Unfortunately, if I aim at 6:45 and don’t make it, but arrive at 7:05 … then in my mind I’m not 5 minutes late, but 20 minutes late. (As a recovering perfectionist, I’m still a work in progress……)

I’ll be back in a minute to finish this…………

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