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Spending Time or Stealing Time: What Do You Want to Do Now?

Personal Perspective: Reframing your thinking can change how you live.

Carrie Knowles
Carrie Knowles

Like so many, I was initially intrigued by Marie Kondo’s notion of sorting through the things in your life by holding them for a moment, then deciding if you loved them enough to keep them. Of course, once you have identified the “chosen few,” you must fold them, roll them, or hang them properly as one would a special object.

Okay, that didn’t go so well. I’d hold, roll, fold, and hang and I’d still have a closet full of doubt about what was left. Perhaps I loved too easily to be a true disciple of the Kondo discipline.

Though my closet is still a questionable jumble of the once, still, and newly loved, Kondo’s original idea of homing in on intentional living has made me think not so much about what I wear or what’s hanging in my closet, as about how I spend my time.

Spending time. We all say it as if time is money that we must account for in our lives.

Timesheets, call sheets, and even conversations over dinner about how we spend our days. Admonitions to our children to spend their time wisely. Questions we often ask friends who are recently retired or young mothers who choose to stay home with their children: How do you spend your time?

It’s a question that’s all about responsibility and accountability, and I think it gets in the way of living and loving the time we have.

On a recent trip to Europe, a first since COVID, I had an odd sensation that being there on a vacation, away from work and other responsibilities, I wasn’t spending my time, but instead, I was stealing some time.

What a delicious thought: stealing time.

When we got home and I unpacked, I held onto the idea of trying to steal a little time every day to get away from always spending my time wisely.

It has given me time to think and breathe a little more deeply. Stolen time is my time. It’s a selfish moment that I gladly share with my family and friends.

I steal time to go to the park with my grandchildren, have lunch with a friend, or just sit somewhere beautiful and breathe. I try to steal a little time every day to go to a coffee shop with my husband to just sit and talk or read and have tea together. Yes, we could have a cup of tea at home, but there’s something quite satisfying about having stolen a few moments away from our usual lives to be purposefully together.

Stealing time has different rules than spending time. There’s no accountability. There’s no expected productivity. There’s just a chance to step away from the crush of it all and to take a deeper breath.

Stealing time is a momentary vacation that lets you clear your head and figure out what it is you love in life: what you should do more of and maybe what you need to let go of.

Stealing time is much more satisfying than spending time sorting through everything we are expected to do or accomplish, like cleaning a closet.

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