A few weeks ago, in a post called “A Healthy Way To Grow“, I introduced you to a fez-wearing guy who goes by the name “Uncle Atom” and his YouTube channel “Tabletop Minions.” In that post I explained that Uncle Atom focuses his content on a very small niche of the tabletop gaming community, but that he often drops little nuggets of wisdom that can be applied to any area of our lives. Well, today I’m bringing you another of Uncle Atom’s pieces of wisdom. This one involves velociraptors and self-imposed, arbitrary, deadlines.
Just go with it, it’ll make sense.
In a recent video –called “Should You LOWER Your Hobby Bar? – Uncle Atom’s Pro Tips“– Uncle Atom discusses (among other topics) the difference between important things that need to be completed within a certain timeframe and hobby activities that can be completed on a much looser schedule. It’s a reminder that hobbies should be fun and stress relieving, not stressful, and, while discussing that point, he says this:
“…you’ve gotta fix the toilet before, y’know, it leaks and destroys the basement. You have to mow the lawn before the velociraptors come, whatever the deal is.”
Funny, right? Well, strangely enough, it was that quote more than anything else in the video that got me thinking about the weird, arbitrary deadlines we put on things.
You see, longtime Tabletop Minions viewers know that Uncle Atom really doesn’t like mowing the lawn. He’ll do it, but he puts it of for as long as he can– occasionally coming close to the line where his city will fine him for it. And for some reason hearing him offhandedly joke about the timeframe of that semi-important task made me stop and think for a minute.
Why? Because I’m what I lovingly refer to as a “time freak”.
Because of how I was raised, I can be a tad obsessive about schedules and timelines. I need every clock in my house to match every other clock. And the clock in the car. And my phone. It’s weird. Also, anything less than ten minutes early to an event or appointment is late, and I really, really hate putting things off if I can do them right away. It’s not a compulsion or anything, it’s just one of those weird quirks I have. For me, time–and my own weird timelines for things– matters. A lot.
But this goofy comment made me take a hard look at why I stress so much about time. I mean, what do I think is going to happen if I cant get out of the house right on time? Or if I arrive somewhere when I’m scheduled to instead of early? Or if –heaven forbid– the dishes get done tomorrow instead of tonight? Do I think velociraptors are coming? Doubtful.
It turns out, most of the time I don’t know why I’m so stressed about timelines, I just am.
And what about you? You probably don’t have the same weird fixation on time as I do, but I bet you’ve spent time stressing over getting something done “fast enough” just because you “need” to. Do you get angry in traffic if the moron in front of you is driving way too slowly? Or stress about making sure dinner gets done exactly on time so that everyone in the house doesn’t spontaneously die of starvation? Or maybe you tell yourself you’re no good at your hobby because you don’t do it “fast enough,” like in Uncle Atom’s video. Seems a little silly when you look at it that way, right? The point is, I think we can all cut ourselves a little slack sometimes. We’ve got enough deadlines; we don’t need to make up more.
So, with that in mind, here’s my invitation to you– and to myself, honestly:
The next time you feel yourself start to stress about the timing of something that doesn’t really need to have a hard deadline, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re stressed out. If there’s a reason, by all means stress away. But if the answer can be boiled down to “because the velociraptors are coming,” let yourself off the hook. Because, really, there are no velociraptors.
Thanks for reading, you’ve got this,