March 18, 2018

Thoughts on Time

At some point during the day I had a few epiphanies about time, and because I didn’t stop and jot them down, I can only remember them in bits and pieces, and because I am pretty tired at the moment, my reflection will most likely be pretty nonsensical.

I wanted to just forget it and just go watch TV, the latest season of Love has begun and I want to watch it, but instead I just spent thirty minutes staring at Twitter and losing myself on a downward spiral on social media and a ten tweet rant about how I no longer like technology; so it might be a good idea to try and salvage some semblance of clear thinking.

Today wile I was driving the highways of Singapore, listening to the latest Decemberist album, I thought I had discovered something profound about time and how we allocate it. It might have sounded something like this.

There is a direct correlation between happiness and joy and how we use our time.

Here are some facts:

1. We need time on our own that is purely dedicated to ourselves, our interests, wants and needs. When we have this time we must be invested in it one hundred percent and not worry how we might be spending our time in other ways to please other people.

2. We must also dedicate large chunks of our time to other people and when we engage other people with our time, we cannot be worried about how we might be spending that time alone.

When I first became a dad, many years ago, I wrote a blog post about how being a parent would make me less selfish and how my time would be purely dedicated to my new daughter and wife and family. Well that was clearly unrealistic and wishful thinking, and what I realised today is that not only is it not true, but that it doesn’t need to be.

We do not need to dedicate all our time to others. We need to find time for our own comfort. And when we are enjoying that time, we cannot be thinking about other things.

This is also true for teachers. So often, my students and work are on my mind. Even when I am trying to spend time with my own kids or family or by myself, I will be thinking about how to solve problems at work, or how I might respond to that one email, but really, by allowing my time to be confused with my work time, I am doing a disservice to both. The opposite can also be true.

When I am at work, I should be aware that those hours are dedicated to my students. I cannot be thinking about the next holiday or how I wish I was taking a nap or at the movies. I owe it to them to be there completely.

This understanding that time dedicated to others should be focused on others, must be understood completely.

Let me give you an example closer to home. Yesterday, I was at the Family Festival where I dedicated most of my time to my own kids, students, other teachers etc…I was at peace with this, because I knew they needed me to invest my time. I was not worried about being any where else, because I had chosen that part of the day to be there.

It felt great. I tried not to complain. I had a good time and felt useful and needed. When I came home, I decided that Skyelar needed more of my time. Would I have preferred to maybe go have a drink with a friend, or watch TV alone in my room? Maybe, but as soon as I decided to be there with her, we watched a movie she wanted to see and I felt so at peace with just being there. I blocked out any thoughts about what I could be doing with that time if I were thinking of my own needs.

This is the key to happiness. Be here now and be aware of of who you have dedicated your time to.

If you're in a meeting- be in that meeting.
If you're driving kids to basketball- crank up the tunes and make that a great ride.
If you're alone and on your way to get a haircut, enjoy that solitude and ride.
If you're with your wife at dinner, invest your attention in that time.
If it's early and you are running, count your breaths and footsteps.
If you have two weeks of school then make those two weeks special.

Not sure if I am making sense, but in conclusion here is the bullet point version. Again:

If you are feeling tired and stretched thin, make time for yourself and do not dilute it with the commitments you have to others. Own your personal time and live it fully.

When you are committed to share your time with others- kids, wives, students, coworkers, then be there fully too. You owe them your complete attention just as fully as when you are committed to yourself.

Anyway, I owe myself some time tonight with a book and maybe an episode of Love before the week starts. I have a feeling I have already allocated much of my time to others this week and the next.

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