This year, Rosh Chodesh Nisan begins at sundown Saturday. The month of Nisan continues through May 5, and is filled with clearing, cleaning, transformation, and renewal. It contains Passover, which always falls on the 15th day of Nisan, on the night of a full moon, after the northern vernal equinox.
Nisan was originally called “the first of months.” Two weeks prior to the Exodus, Hashem showed Moses the sliver of the crescent moon and instructed him about the mitzvah of observing a new month. From that time on, we’ve followed the commandment to sanctify the new moon.
We were granted the opportunity to gain mastery over time, assuring that our holidays are celebrated during the appropriate season and consistent with the lunar calendar. In our modern world, however, how many people feel as if we have control over time?
Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen, in his book, “Timeshifting: Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life,” writes about the experience of “time poverty,” the belief that there’s not enough time to do everything one wishes. Society values busyness. He teaches that our focus need not be on managing our time so that we can do more work, but rather, altering our perception of time.
I’ve played with this concept. People always say to me that I get done in one day what takes most people three or four days. It’s because I come from a family of time users. It’s less about multitasking and more about the focus of full attention on one task at a time without distractions such as the television, radio, eating, responding to every notification on the cell phone or computer, resulting in the completion of tasks with greater efficiency and speed.
When we toggle our attention back and forth between two seemingly simultaneous tasks, there’s a slight lag time during each of the toggles. There needs to be mindfulness in beginning and completing tasks. It’s like a pause and breath at the beginning of something new and a period at the end of the sentence to complete it. Many people leave that step out, allowing time and tasks to blur together. Often with the feeling that there is no end and no beginning, comes a sense of being behind all of the time with no chance to catch up. That can lead to feeling sad, depressed, or inept.
Blank space needs to be scheduled in as well. Not only in the form of downtime, in which your planner announces DAY OFF, but also for desired tasks you enjoy. For example, if I want to add making chocolate chip banana bread to my week, I’d ask myself “How long does it take and on which day does it work to schedule it?” Sometimes it’s just spontaneous.
This may be too rigid for you, but feel free to use my system of skinny, color-coded Post-it notes. Pink, phone calls; green, the computer; blue, for my private practice scheduling; yellow, for chores; orange, errands; and purple for the things like banana bread, painting, or hemming my new pants. I write down all of the things that I wish to do in a three-month period, including deadlines, along with what needs to occur weekly, and add an estimated, yet realistic, idea of how long the task will take. Then I put the Post-it notes into the slots on my planner. If a task does not get completed on the assigned day then the note just gets moved. I don’t waste time sifting through pages of lined-out appointments and tasks with hundreds of arrows pointing onto other rescheduled days. Disorganization is another huge dragon of time wasted.
Mail used to accompany me to carpool lanes and dental appointments. I still plan my week’s dinner menus while walking on the treadmill, but these days I use my wait time (but not in traffic) as a time for peaceful meditation.
Meditation Focus: Take a look at how you use or waste time. Don’t forget about social media. Check out Dr. Rechtschaffen’s book. This Nisan, gift yourself with an altered perception that offers you a sense of mastery over time.