The Momentous Impact of 2 Minutes

I’m not really a “smell the roses” type of person. If you asked me to take a moment to stop, I would tell you: “find me a moment.” They’re in short supply. You’ll generally find me somewhere in the middle of multi-tasking and stressing out about not getting enough done.

My solution to work/life balance is less of a solution and more of a “path of most resistance.” This involves making the easy stuff much harder than they need to be due to putting them off until the hard items are checked off. As a result, the things I find enjoyment in and/or are good for me, get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list, and by then I have to seek out efficient means of accomplishing them.

Twice a week I take a Spin class at Soul Cycle, and those 2 days, in which I dedicate 45 minutes to my health, are my happiest days in the week (outside of the moments I spend with my fiance, of course). For 45 minutes, it’s me on a bike, working through whatever challenges, frustrations, successes, etc. I am facing that day…all the feels, essentially…and pushing myself towards whatever my personal best is that day. When the class ends, there is a 2 minute stretch, which I never stick around to participate in. Clack clack clack go my cycling shoes, across the smooth, slippery floors (which have found me flat on my ass on a few occasions) towards the women’s restroom. There are exactly 4 showers that quickly become occupied by 20–30 women who wait patiently in line for their turn…all presumably getting ready for their work days, like I am.

My goal is always the same: arrive at the office, be seated at my desk, with coffee and cream (always vanilla, and always a quantity that contradicts my healthy morning habits) in hand, by 9 a.m.

If I’m super efficient with the undressing/stretching interpretive dance moves while waiting in line, or I happen to get to the showers at Flash speed, I’ll grab a latte from my favorite coffee spot, the Blue Bottle, on the way to my trusty hybrid…to keep things, not only efficient, but super LA.

Today, however, I had a thought — what if I just bit the bullet and gave in to the 2 minute stretch? So, I wait a few extra minutes for a shower — it’s not like I have set work hours or anything. So I did it. I stayed for the entire stretch…and here’s what it did to my day…

Instead of getting to the showers by 7:46, I was at the showers by 7:48. I had to wait an additional 7 minutes for the shower, which allowed me time to just stretch and then just undress— I didn’t have to combine the two. I was able to read through my personal emails (which always get neglected until too many days have passed). I was also able to look at my wedding to-do list and check off the items that have been completed recently. And then I emailed our florist.

Wow! 7 minutes ! Who knew so much could be accomplished in under 10?!

From there, I showered, got ready and made it out of the studio around the same time I always do…8:25. So, despite the 2 minute stretch, I still left at the same time, but was able to also fit in like 5 things, and as separate things, instead of grouped together in a cluster f*ck. I also had time to stop for my beloved latte.

On my drive home from work, I listened to a Ted Talk Podcast on “The Meaning of Work” and it tied up this day in such a perfect, beautiful way.

We’re so work obsessed in Western Culture, that we often lose sight of what is meaningful and valuable about, not only the work we do, but our lives on the whole. We place a great deal of importance on our contribution…OUR contribution — which is directly tied to a return on investment…promotions, raises, accolades…we find value in being valued, as opposed to, value in contributing to a greater, collective good.

Studies have found that, though “value” is a subjective concept, the people that find the most satisfaction and perception of personal value in their work, are those that believe they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.

This begs the question — If the solution to true happiness and contentment is found in collective awareness and benefaction, then perhaps we need to rethink our business structures? Perhaps, on a micro level, we need to rethink how we approach our “2 minutes optional” moments.

Maybe it’s the minuscule 2 minutes here and there we give back to ourselves that, when added up, allow us to be more present — more available — to others. Maybe it’s the moments of introspection in which we think about the ways we can be better outward, with no expectation for acknowledgement or reward beyond knowing that we made a difference, in some small way.

Isn’t that a nice thought — to help others, and in turn, add value to the life we live…you can’t place a cushy salary figure on that.