I was preparing a meal, several meals actually, the other day and each of them required a fair amount of prep. I was washing and chopping vegetables, marinating beef, and reading and rereading recipes. Now, if you’re used to doing such things or cooking comes naturally or you’re some freak of nature that has tons of patience then you probably won’t understand where I’m coming from.
This is for the rest of us…
I was chopping and marinating and rereading and finding myself on the edge of a full-blown tantrum. I kept thinking ‘I don’t have time for this’. Then I started thinking of shortcuts I could take, which is different from being efficient. Efficiency breeds productivity and raises the quality of the end product. Taking shortcuts only saves time and that’s only if you’re lucky. Usually shortcuts just end up making the end result suffer.
There was also a good chance I would have lost a finger since I was working with a very large, very sharp knife.
So I took a deep breath and stopped for a moment and thought, ‘What’s the rush?’ It wasn’t like I needed to be anywhere else at that time or I had an appointment to keep. I had even started my prep work in plenty of time to have the meal ready when I wanted to eat. There was no schedule to keep, no one looking over my shoulder yelling at me saying I was taking too long to chop the veggies, no one critiquing my performance.
With that settled, I was able to finish making the meal. I am also proud to report that it was not only edible, but actually very delicious. New recipes can be tricky for me, especially when they involve vegetables I don’t normally eat.
But my mind kept returning to ‘What’s the rush?’ because I have always had a habit of wanting to get things done – NOW. If a project is ever at a standstill or delayed or if I think I’m not working fast enough I start to twitch, maybe not physically, but definitely mentally. In my mind there’s a certain timeline or schedule I need to follow and if I don’t meet them irritation and impatience soon follows.
We’re not even going to discuss what has happened when other people haven’t met that imaginary, arbitrary schedule.
It was only as I was cooking the other day that I realized how much enjoyment I was missing out on because I was in such a hurry to get things done. Once I slowed down and concentrated on what I was doing I found a rhythm and kind of beauty in what I was doing. I then of course thought about all the times I had missed out on that because I was in such a hurry before.
I can’t do anything to change what’s already happen – neither can you, by the way – so beating myself up now is a waste of time. But I can do something about how I work now and in the future. I can be totally present in everything I do, not worrying about all the other things I should, could, would be doing. If I make time for the important things and take the time to do them properly – enjoying the work – it won’t matter if I’m not able to do some of the other things.
The amazing thing is that when I focus on doing one thing at a time I have found that I actually work faster and am able to do more. I’m still trying to figure that one out. But for now I’m content with being able to focus on and enjoy what I’m doing.
Who’s with me?