Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds aren’t late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear that time is running out.
Isn’t it amazing that animals just know that it is time to migrate across the world, and geese know how to fly in chevron flight to cheer each other on as they move through their phases and stages, a reminder that we are not alone in the passages of our time? No one checked their calendar and micromanaged them. The animals didn’t berate themselves that they weren’t fast enough, good enough or on time. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the light has changed, the air has changed, and we will soon be changing our clocks in our mortal crazy attempt to “capture” the sun and the moon and get a grip on time. I want to suggest a different way.
We ran ourselves into the ground at the school year’s beginning. Whatever lesson we learned from the pandemic to slow down, breathe deeper and reconnect more intentionally and with joy faded into the crazy business of school year beginnings.
Stop and take a breather. Life is a marathon run, and our breathing and timing patterns must be different from a sprint. We cannot burn out this early into the school year.
Time for a free float. For a walk in the woods without your watch. For turning your phone off when you are ready for bed. For setting some boundaries.
Time for an inner reminder to take care of yourself, give thanks, find joy, pour love into the universe and get some back from the world around you.
The ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi reminds us that we are imperfect, that our lives and our projects are incomplete and that everything is impermanent. As a result, instead of measuring and foolishly trying to capture time, why don’t we become more present today because it will be gone when the sun sets.
Here’s to taking control of our time and to getting the most out of our one precious life.
Reflecting on what really matters
How often do you unplug from your cell phone, iPad or computer? Try this. Practice lengthening the time you stay away from your devices. Start with 20 minutes, then 30, then an hour… What would happen if you went an entire day unplugged? Try it. Annie Lamott, author of one of my favorite books, “Bird by Bird,” says “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. That includes you.”
Check your social media feedback app telling you how many hours you spend scrolling through FaceBook, Instagram or Twitter. Four hours and 20 minutes per day. Really? Replace that time with a nature walk, a trip to the gym followed by a steam or sauna, a museum outing or reading a book that has nothing to do with education. You were able to find the time to read about everyone else’s lives. You are a much better time investment than aimless scrolling.
Where do you spend your time?
How much time do you spend each day addressing tasks which suck the living daylights out of you? Attending aimless meetings? Being with snarky people? Managing tasks you dislike?
Compare that with how much time you spend in the company of people who put a smile on your face or activities that provide a sense of meaning. What about identifying the tasks which bring you joy? Compare the two pie charts of time analysis, and start planning how to alter your use of time.
Smiling (and sleep) matter
Given all the time we spend responding to emails, you might as well ensure that some put a smile on your face. Once a day, send an email of greeting to someone you admire or adore. They will respond. Viola! A smile has just occurred as you reconnect.
How much time do you devote to sleep? Make it more. The amazing thing about work is that it will still be there waiting for you the next day. That reminder phone call you feel the need to make at 10:30 PM will also wait. Everything will wait except the need to replenish yourself.
5 of My Favorite Quotes on Disconnecting:
“Putting my phone down and picking my life up.”
“Offline is the new luxury.”
“Posting less, doing more. Comparing less, reflecting more. Discussing less, accomplishing more.”
“Do things that make you forget to check your phone.”
“There is no Wi-Fi in the forest, but you’ll find a better connection.”
5 of My Favorite Quotes on Time:
“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” – Michelle Obama
“If you want to have a high quality personal life, plan a high quality personal life.” – Peter Turla
“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” – Leo Christopher
“Time is what we want most but what we use worst.” – William Penn
“I like to do weird things in the shower, like drink my coffee, brush my teeth and drink a smoothie. It’s good time management.” – Michelle Williams