In Just Five Minutes…

Are visits to your “pit crew” of professionals like a trip to confessional?

“Forgive me Dr. Smiley, for I have sinned. I wasn’t able to floss every night. Well, as a matter of fact, I’m lucky if I can floss twice a week. And, sorry, I nosh on gummy bears when I’m stressed… and I’ve been stressed lately”

“Forgive me Dr. Limber, for I have sinned. I wasn’t able to do my stretching exercises every night. Well, as a matter of fact, I’m lucky if I can do them twice per week. And, sorry, I nosh on gummy bears when I’m stressed… and I’ve been stressed quite a bit lately. They’re stretchy, does that count?”

“Forgive me Mr. Lugnuts, for I have sinned. I haven’t done my oil changes as often as prescribed in my owner’s manual. Well, as a matter of fact, I’m lucky if I make it for maintenance twice per year. And, sorry, if you’re wondering about that red and green blob on the dashboard , I nosh on gummy bears when I’m stressed… and, I’ve been stressed lately”

Why is it that we hire the best people to surround us, take care of us and give us the best advice on how to keep our bodies and our lives running smoothly (those are the people I refer to as my “pit crew”), yet there never seems to be enough hours in the day to incorporate all of the advice that they provide?

For example, it is bad enough that I sometimes lose track of time and wake up one morning to realize that my plants are having a near death experience, my fingernails are long enough to scare a small child or that I’ve overshot my haircut date and look like I’m one gust of wind away from a comb-over. But it is all those little things that we are supposed to do, those little things that are so good for us and that can be completed “in just 5 minutes” each day that seem to stack up and sometimes fall off the radar.

It’s not like I come home from work, have dinner, park myself on the couch and eat bonbons all night, every night. This is a busy guy whose PVR is often over 85% full and struggling to keep it below that threshold. TV has taken a major back seat in favour of other priorities. I think back to a time when I was single, before the gluten intolerance hit, living in an apartment and I hadn’t really figured out my passion for writing yet. I had oodles of free time, perhaps too much free, given that I have probably seen every movie made from 1994 to 2001. But today, it’s a different story given the list of things I must do and the list of things I enjoy doing that keep me quite busy.

It should come as no surprise when our trusted pit crew makes those recommendations, they try to make it easy on us, offering improvements that can be incorporated quickly and easily into the routine. But marketing geniuses have also figured that out and in their infinite wisdom (and pursuit of our hard earned dollars) are showering us with promises of the multiple things we can accomplish “in just 5 minutes a day”. I was up late one night, channel surfing through an ocean of infomercials, and it seemed like in just 5 minutes, ANYTHING was possible!

A quick Google search reveals that in just 5 minutes a day we can do things like: quit smoking, meditate, add years to our lives through running, get a flat and sexy tummy, multiply our social media connections, take control of our finances, organize our home, whiten our teeth, keep our home mess-free, improve our posture, improve our reading skills, tone our arms, improve time-management skills, write a book, improve our vocabulary and apply a natural make-up look. It sounds like if I had an extra hour to spare, I could lead a perfect life and potentially, change the world. The trick is finding that first 5 minutes to spare.

On the surface, it sounds easy to do, but when you have a toddler pounding on the bathroom door during your moment of silence, a teenager texting you that they are ready for their chauffeur to pick them up or your boss emailing you about the presentation assigned to you at 2 pm that is suddenly needed for tomorrow morning’s meeting, finding spare time is not easy for anyone, even with the best of time management skills.

I don’t think anyone in my pit crew has ever really scolded me or nagged at me for not following their recommendations. The fact is that my own style of Catholic guilt I lay on myself over all the things I should be doing is probably quite sufficient.The reality is that if I don’t take their advice, there will be consequences whether it means more frequent visits later, more costly visits or not living my healthiest life possible. But ultimately, I don’t think anyone expects me to start my “getting ready for bed/getting ready for the next day” routine at 7:00 pm, just because of the long list of 5 minute must-do’s I should be accomplishing every day.

The fact is that there are only so many hours in the day, so we need to cut ourselves some slack. We just need do the best we can, keeping an eye on major priorities, try to get to the secondary ones if possible, and incorporating change when opportunity presents itself or becomes an absolute necessity, and give it our best try. Then we should pat ourselves on the back when things work out, and shouldn’t beat ourselves up if things don’t go according to plan. There’s always tomorrow to change the world, 5 minutes at a time!

The prospect of being able to accomplish so much more in just 5 minutes a day is indeed an attractive one, and in fact, there are improvements we can make with small, consistent action. We just have to ensure that the incremental changes we make keep things in balance and don’t take away from the people and activities we value most nor should they be a source of anxiety for our next trip to pit crew confessional.

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