We touched on this in Episode 1 of our pre-trail interviews with Tell Your Trail, yet we wanted to dive a little deeper into what this exactly means. Time management is crucial in life, whether that is on the trail or off the trail. One leads into the other. Even outside of the context of this being a lifestyle, time management in any life will lead to a higher quality of life. This is one of the most essential skills for a hiker, a backpacker, a lifer as well call ourselves, and yes for anyone that wishes to be able to continue to exceed their own expectations. When you become the master of your own time, you become the master of your own life. There are many sayings around time, that it is the most important commodity, a currency that can never be replaced, a unit of measurement that everything else is measured against. We used to hear many of these sayings when we were younger, and while hearing the words, never felt the depth behind them. Only as we have continued to get older, and more time is underneath our respective thru-hiking hip belts as we call it, do all these sayings not only hold meaning, but have proven to hold deep truth. They have always been heard but more importantly they have now been felt, and thus can now be understood as an internal fact. Time is one of our most crucial pieces of gear, on trail and off, let us use it wisely!
When you use time wisely you will find happiness... just like this van from the '70s it has used time wisely to continue to smile, and we found it when using our happiness time in the day!
Time management, what goes into the moments that you finish a long distance hike, the moments that you transition back to off trail life, the time that you begin planning for the next hike, and the time that we find ourselves in now, the few week window until starting? Well, one of these questions could take an entire article to cover, but utilizing our time wisely as well as yours we will try our best to describe each in the form that it has taken for us in one.
The time when you finish a long distance trail is special. It is a unique type of time, a moment, a day, two days of time that your body and mind simply need to rest. That is the most important way you can use your time. Doing nothing becomes doing everything. Of course in doing nothing we mean recovering, we mean taking your mind off as much as it can be of the tomorrow, and let yourself be in the time of recovery. What does this look like exactly? Well, it can come in the form of taking a day or two with your trail family in the last trail town and just enjoying togetherness before life takes a hold again. It can come in the form of talking to friends and family. Or it can come in the form of sitting out on the grassy lawn of the hostel or motel and just feeling the sun on your face. Let the time be your own while being with others, because soon it is going to no longer be your own. Time is always your own but you will find out what we mean.
When you are on trail this context becomes very real. We still are not a master however!
You now have finished the trail, given yourself the time to relax and be with your trail family, but it is time to go back to work. You step into work as if you have never left, because the work never ceased while you were on trail. You have a million things to catch up on to just become a functioning employee and you must do it within (1) day. The knowledge of the real time information that you need to function in the company. Clients, partnerships, new deals, all have to be learned, you have to catch up for what occurred while you were out hiking. You begin juggling a thousand plates again while getting back to work. The first month of this after trail your time is consumed with catch up. Catching up with work, catching up with friends and family, catching up with life that continued while out hiking. A blessing and a curse. An incredibly lucky and privileged gift to have the opportunity to experience this, but also quite difficult when returning. Your time is thrown in a million directions, and sometimes it does not feel like if you are the one in control of it, at least in the past as we were learning this was the case, but we have learned how to manage time properly and it has brought us to a quicker peace.
You have now been off trail for over a month. The taste of trail, the smell of trail, the feel of trail while still always in the mind is not as fresh as the life you are now living off. Whatever you are doing, it demands the fullness of you, as life does. You wake, you go to work, you find time for friends and family, you plan, you workout, you live. Yet, within all of this, minutes are now a necessity. The 10 minutes it takes to reach your work from your home can be used to plan. Can be used to work through the small details of the upcoming trail. The 5 minutes it takes you to walk from your car to the entrance of a building you can use to organize your work thoughts. Every moment becomes a conscious decision to be used because if not, time will go by and you will not have accomplished half, a quarter of what you wished. Take control of the time for your own, even if it is 5 minutes here and there, they add up!
We still have yet to find our bouncing leprechaun
(Arizona Trail video reference),
but just like our leprechaun we sometimes have to fight to make time our own!
Now we find ourselves in the window right before trail. We are continuing to work, we are continuing to juggle, but now the planning becomes critical, becomes crucial. We have to segment more of our time that is already so little into planning stages. Travel to and from trail, map systems, resupplies, video gear, hiking gear, everything takes time. We have to wake earlier and go to sleep later. There is simply no other way. We have to coordinate where to send our belongings once we get off trail. We have to coordinate how to pack them. We have to coordinate where to put our truck. Coordinate, coordinate, coordinate. We have to get all of our ElevenSkys work on top of other work done before trail so it is ready for you. Samples to approve, designs to perfect, fabric to cut and sew, the list never ends. Time is continued to be segmented more and more, there simply is not enough!
Yet, that is the difficulty with which you face when living this type of life, and quite simply any life. You never have enough time, yet you have to make it enough! You have to make it work, you have to make the time given in a day, a month, a year be enough when it never is to accomplish your goals, your plans, and continue to live life. This is where the struggle comes in. So how do you utilize time and have enough when we are saying there never is enough? Well, let us give you some tips and tricks we have learned along the way.
First and foremost as we touched on seize the day. Get up earlier, go to sleep later. Yes, it is tiresome, yes it demands much, but life demands much, step up to the challenge. Second, if you ever find yourself wondering if you could be doing something, it means in fact you could. If it is 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes utilize this time for necessities as if it was the only time you had that day, because it very well could be. Chip away at larger projects such as planning a 4,600 mile trail, chip away at getting your things in order before leaving, make time work for you instead of it working against you. When driving or moving between locations use this time to think, think ahead and take one or two of those 1000 juggling plates out of the air and inspect where you can put it for the time being outside of the spinning world which is your life. Then also remember to make time for happiness. Spend 30 minutes to an hour each day to do what truly makes you happy. Swim, run, hike, hang out, anything that puts a smile on your face and in your heart. Yes, you can even coincide these with friends and family to be able to spend time together. Yet, this is incredibly important. Even when there is NO time, you HAVE to make time to find happiness in your heart each day. Without this none of the above is possible, when we were learning we have tried and failed miserably. It very well is the most important and most crucial time that is spent in this cycle, because without it you WILL not have the energy or fortitude to stick to such a rigorous schedule. Make time for your happiness!
Our largest form of happiness! Picture represents Love. These flowers have an exact meaning in our hearts.
This is what we mean when we said time was not our own. It is, time is always your own. Yet, when you have demands on you in a thousand directions it begins to feel like it is designated for you instead of you utilizing it. This is where we have learned to structure our mind and thoughts. Yes, life is going to demand your time in certain ways, yet it never can demand how your heart and mind feel, those are always your own. In those instances that it feels as if time took you and picked you up and has you within its grips, it may have your physical body, but you have the power and the internal drive to create a different scenario in your mind. Take a breath, let time bring you where it needs to physically, but use time as it is using you. Use your mind to find happiness, use your mind to plan and structure the day ahead even if it feels like it is going to structure itself, and realize that time is your own, when you chose to let it be. Even if you are within its grips, is it holding you or are you holding it? The answer comes when you make concise decisions and concise thought to how to handle YOUR time. Use it wisely.
With time telling us to write this article, but also our heart and mind loving writing it that it becomes ours again.
Next article we will talk about managing time on trail.
P:S: Episode 2 of our pre-trail interviews is now live. Take a journey with us as we describe relationships, time-management, and how thru-hiking as a life is a wonderful privilege but it is not all sunshine and rainbows, it demands much sacrifice. Find Ryan and Constantine who were always one, begin to merge as the gap between became to wide and difficult!