Linking Time with Temper

March 12, 2012

@home, @work

When are you most likely to snap at your kids or be curt with your co-worker?

Is there any consistent factor that makes your volume level go up or cause you to clip  your words?

Yesterday, when I set my clocks forward, I realized that the “consistent factor”

when I’m snippy with others is more about the lack of something than the presence of something.

Time.

Nothing like losing an hour of sleep to really drive the point home!  Here’s when the aha! moment happened.

I try to get out of the house early on Sundays so  I can properly caffeinate (my new verb!) before getting to church. This means that the morning routine has to be executed without a hitch.  Normally that’s not a problem, but with the time change, everyone was moving at a snail’s pace.  That’s when it happened yesterday; I snapped when we were ready to leave and my daughter couldn’t find her shoes!  Just like that, I turned into a ball of stress trying to find alternative shoes, give a life lesson (explaining that THIS is why we put everything back into its proper home!!), and hustle everyone out the door.

When I step back and take a breath, I realize that a frenzied pace (and the pressure that seems to come along with it) greatly impacts my tone with others.  When the clock is pushing me, I push others, and my approach toward them suffers. Rather than experience the delight of the morning (and my kids’ hilarious conversation about why a time change is good), I ran out of the house tied up in a knot.  Time felt like an enemy to my attitude.

The principle holds at both work and home for me.  Increased activity plus limited time equals high opportunity for stress (and failure to be who I really want to be).  When project deadlines are harried and the pressure is on, I’m more likely to undergo tension in my relationships.  When I’m in time crunches, I feel myself skimp on words, withhold trust, and listen poorly. What starts as a non-personal “clock” issue ends with very personal damage.

Bottom line, the lack of time means I’m less likely to control my temper.

In a similar way, when our family over-schedules our days, we feel that same stress.  When the to-do lists increase, we find we are not using the right (or enough) words.  We misunderstand each other more often and disagreements come faster.

This is why committing to any activity for any person in our house HAS to be considered in the context of the entire family economy.  The sum of kids’ sports, practices, birthday parties, play dates, school, and travel can fill our schedule in a heartbeat.  I’m not saying that those things are bad.  Still, the more our family does, and the more the pace quickens, the greater the risk for relational stress.  That’s reason enough to say “no” more often and to be cutthroat about where we spend our family time.

Imagine if your family reduced its activity level by 25% and reclaimed that time for rest, unstructured “hang time,” and conversation.  Would the health of your family improve?  Would the tone of your words change?  Would the long-term effect of that extra time benefit your relationships more than the activity you give up?

So what do you give up?  How do you decide on trade-offs?

I’ll get into that tomorrow… (when I have more time) 

:)

…but until then, I’d love to hear what YOU do to protect the margin of time in your world.

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