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Renegotiating Our Relationship with Time

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By: Lia Garvin   |   August 12, 2021

If you’re anything like me, you’ve gotten pretty darn used to the pandemic rendition of the mullet, also known as the work-from-home uniform: business on the top and party on the bottom, or a dress shirt with yoga pants. The thought of actually buttoning up pants (ugh) and putting on shoes (can I even do it?!), might have you shaking in your metaphorical slipper socks. 

For many of us, the pandemic has completely disrupted our sense of linear time and predictability, introducing us to a new, more stressful and burnout-inducing lens on time—monotony. With the blending of work, school and home plus the inability to travel or do things on the weekends for months on end, we went long stretches when every day was exactly like the one before and after it. 

But we survived! As humans, we adapt, we evolve, we normalize. Even at its very worst, we normalized this disruption and made the best of it. We met friends in the park; we attended Zoom happy hours; we wrestled with our kids over Zoom school; we bounced babies on our laps during sales meetings. 

As we look ahead to the next phase of the pandemic, with people desperately yearning to return to normal, I encourage you to think about what you actually want your new normal to look like

In any transition, we have two options: ride the boat and let things run their course or jump into the captain’s chair and steer the ship where you want it to go. I encourage you to recognize this moment, seize control, and put a stake in the ground on what you want your new relationship with time to be. 

Sit down with your partner and family and talk about it. Look at how you want to spend time together, and maybe even more importantly, alone. Who is responsible for pickups and drop-offs; where can more flexibility be added? Who attends practices and activities; does it have to be the same routine as it was before? How do parents carve out time for themselves, and for each other?

Thinking about these questions before things feel normal again might seem odd, but this is the perfect moment to do so. Setting a new course now will allow us to work out the kinks and maybe even map out a few experiments to run before we have to commit. 

And speaking of committing, do we even need to commit long-term? One of the other lessons the pandemic taught us was that nothing is permanent, nothing is certain. Explore the answers to these questions on a monthly or quarterly basis, making a point to check in every few weeks or months to make sure things are working. 

How we return to “normal” and renegotiate our relationship with time is completely up to us, so let’s be intentional about it. If we gained something new that we had been missing, like a morning run or a boisterous family dinner when we otherwise would have been commuting, let’s find ways to keep it. When we let go of needing everything to be one way, or like it was before, we’re left with the most beautiful option of all: what’s possible.

Lia Garvin, mother of a smiley and rambunctious toddler girl, is on a mission to arm people with tools and skills for living the best versions of themselves. She has almost a decade of experience working in some of the largest and most influential companies in tech including Microsoft, Apple, and Google. As a Senior Program Manager at Google and executive coach, Lia leverages her leadership coaching and program management skills to examine the challenges holding teams back from doing their best work. Learn more about her coaching at
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