School resumes tomorrow, after a snowy Thanksgiving break. As always, the day before school resumes, I find myself taking stock of my time. Have I accomplished everything I’d hoped to during this break? Whether just a weekend or longer, did I use my time wisely?
Although I often set aside time during breaks to catch up on work or household projects, I’ve recently become more mindful of the need to set aside time for other things, too. The activities we deliberately make time for are the ones that get done – whether they’re trivial or important in the grand scheme of things. So in this season of waiting, of counting the days – marking time – until the next break, here are a few thoughts on time.
T – Think. Think about how you use your time. Identify your “time robbers.” Facebook? YouTube? Netflix? These fun, entertaining internet activities can take minutes, hours, or even whole days. Although it may seem like it, these activities don’t control our time. We control our time. Are we making time for the things that matter most?
I – Identity. We talk a lot about this with our students. Identities and reputations don’t just happen. They’re the result of time spent cultivating positive habits and actions. Like it or not, the way we spend our time contributes to the people we become. One of the best time choices I made during this break was to say no to TV and read to my kids. It was a very small sacrifice, less than 15 minutes of my time, but it made a big difference to my daughter and reminded me that tending to my parental identity takes time.
M – Memories. As we move into the holiday season, many of us have cherished memories of past celebrations. Memories don’t just happen either, nor do celebrations. They require time. Holiday baking, decorating, shopping aren’t part of our regular daily schedules – yet most of us find ways to make time for these and other traditions. How many more joyful memories could we create year round if we were more mindful of our time?
E – Energy. Taking control of our time requires energy. Keeping track of time is harder than losing track of time. In the moment. But over the long haul, when we lose track of time, we lose touch with our priorities. Time marches on, and we eventually find ourselves overwhelmed and left behind as we struggle to catch up. Although we can’t actually “make time” (we all have 24-hour days), when we expend the energy to order our time, it can seem like we have more of it. We certainly have less stress, more energy, and feel better when we make time for the people and activities that feed us.
So this December, let’s don’t just mark time – let’s make time – for the people and things that matter most. We’ll be glad we did.