Most people I speak to say that the average person’s pace is frenetic. Everyone is consumed with time, how to control it, how to have enough of it and how to make the most of it.
We multi-task as though it were going out of fashion, barely taking the time to take the kids to play at the park without our smartphones firmly attached to our wrist.
We document our kids’ every action at the park on Instagram but forget to actually be present to enjoy the moment. Yes your honour, I am guilty of just that.
Time has become a precious and scarce commodity, one we try to harness. We usually tend to equate time with productivity and money, especially if you sell time for a living.
I find it sad that we forget to set aside time for ourselves to just be and importantly, to spend with those that we love.
But the truth is that we need time to make money. We need time to create. We need time to build. We need time to love, play, dream and plan.
It is therefore inevitable that we are so preoccupied wasting our time worrying about not having enough time that we don’t know where to start.
“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” —Dr. Seuss
Social networking without purpose?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big proponent of social media. I see its value, but more and more I do believe that it should be used with purpose.
A while ago I went on a digital diet. Unfollowing, unsubscribing, unliking and deleting some old posts.
Some argued that I may have messed up my “Klout-score” in the process. But it was not and still is not about the numbers of followers or likes or comments. Honestly, who really cares?
I simply realigned my interests to forge deeper and more meaningful relationships for the particular season I found myself in. Seriously, it was not you, it was me.
I found that in doing so my usage patterns changed. I’m less attached to Twitter, unless I’m looking for news. Sharing linkbait on Facebook has decreased drastically – and I would suggest you block those sites too – it opens up your timeline tremendously. And I’m much more selective of who I connect with on LinkedIn.
Foursquare used to be fun and a way to document my travels, but it has become a pain to use. The move of splitting the app between Foursquare proper and Swarm is somewhat cumbersome and confusing. The jury is out but I wonder if Foursquare will follow in the same footsteps of Gowalla (but then Facebook had something to do with that).
While our interconnected world has so many benefits it also distorts that importance to being on call 24/7/365.
This is where we can lose sight of what we need to be most engaged with— ourselves, our work and the people in our lives who are important to us.
What I noticed the most after the digital diet was how much more time I had available, how much more opportunity I had to actually think, be creative and work on what I wanted.
I would suggest revisiting the diet every so often. We’re only human and tend to fall back in the same spiral if we don’t discipline ourselves to stay on point.
Looking at my feeds, it is time to get selective again.
Thank the Greeks
The Greeks have two words for time: chronos and kairos.
Chronos is the time our society is obsessed with— the quantity of time, what is happening next, how soon and how we control it.
Kairos, on the other hand, is defined as the right moment and how best we use it to accomplish something, it is indicative of the quality of that time.
Ever notice what happens when you start an exciting project or hobby? Somehow, no matter how “busy” your schedule, you miraculously find the energy and time to spend on that project or to engage in that activity. We make time for what we want to.
Make it fun
My two kids are particularly vocal in their display of resistance when it comes to being asked to do something they don’t like or not that interested in.
Like picking up the toys strewn around the house or getting into a bath when they’re hell bent on eeking out a few more minutes of play time.
Trying to be stern and strict does not always work – it’s backfired too many times for it to be a sound strategy. It often creates even more unhappiness and can quickly spiral out of control.
My wife mentioned to me that I have an uncanny ability to approach these situations in a fun way. Often clown-like and nonsensical, making up songs on the spot or setting fun challenges that seem more like play – the kids tend to forget their pouting and jump right in, getting the task done with an infectious laughter and a bathroom floor soaked with water.
Ted Cunningham says in his book, Fun Loving You!:
We need to laugh in the midst of the grind. The grind may be one reason why the average child laughs some four hundred times per day compared to the average adult laughing only fifteen times a day. If we let it, the grind can rob us of our sense of humor.
While my colleagues may think I’m somewhat crazy, translating that fun element into the workplace has often diffused many a potential heated moment. There’s always a funny YouTube clip on hand, ready to get us smiling again.
As Milton Berle said, laughter is an instant vacation.
Take time out
One of the most important things you can do is take time out. Time for yourself to regroup, refresh, renew. As I write this I’m lying beside a pool overlooking the Indian ocean in Mauritius, sharing a meal with the local wildlife.
I had just short of 12 hours of uninterrupted motionless sleep (according to my Samsung Gear – about that later) and a hearty but healthy breakfast. The reviving heat of the sun, the white noise created by the crashing waves in the background and the leaves of the palm trees swaying in the wind is pure bliss. I feel like a new person.
Tomorrow I will be on point, ready for the week and supporting our firm to unlock their potential for growth and mine as well.
So, embrace the pace. Especially if it means slowing down to switch off all distractions and be present to enjoy the people and things around you.
Now if only I could have my family with me to experience and share all this, this picture would be complete.
“Time is on my side” — The Rolling Stones