Time keeps on ticking…

wall-clock-design8It is the modern worlds rarest of commodities. One that we never have enough of, yet long to be able to fritter away. One that we are all striving to make better use of, yet should we actually just give it away?  I’m talking about…….time.

There’s a huge amount of literature being written about how time-poor we are in the modern world. How the advent of tablets, smart phones and the internet mean that we’re always at work, that we’re always switched on, always connected. We have no time to exercise, no time to cook properly, no time to maintain our relationships. The world is moving faster and we’re running to keep up.

The quotes and maxims abound to tell us that we’ll regret not stopping to smell the roses. That no one ever said on his or her deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time at work”, or “I wish I’d made more money”. Rather saying, “I wish I’d spent more time with loved ones” or simply “I wish I had more time”. The term work-life balance should be thought of in a less binary way than balancing between 2 choices, and more about spreading across a number. Work-life spread.

One of life’s great values is the ability to work and have purpose. As someone who had a number of months to myself after a redundancy I can say from experience that the first month or so of having nothing structured to do, and money in your pocket, is great fun. However, for me the desire to have a purpose to your day is stronger than the desire to be doing nothing, even when not worried about money. Contrarily it’s only when the time off on our weekends or holidays is book ended by a work that we can truly enjoy doing nothing. Idle hands may not be the devils work but they’re not much good for your psyche that’s for sure. Time spent working is not time wasted.

On the other side of the coin is the view we hear most of, that we never give enough time to the things we should. Mostly that means either time to think, time to be creative, or time to enjoy physical pursuits. Or it’s giving time to the relationships in our lives external to work, being our families, friends and acquaintances. These are the things we least make time for in our schedule, yet I believe we should work harder at.

There’s a third option I alluded to earlier that most don’t consider, which is giving time away to others. It’s a hybrid of the two options above, where you actively make time for family, friends and other people, outside of your work and “me” time. This is about working to give your time away to others. Not giving your time to work, and not giving it to yourself either.

This can certainly take the form of the wonderful personal and societal benefits that come from volunteering in the community. I’m also talking about simply making time for your wider family and friends outside of special occasions. Our lives can be far too event driven, where we catch up with the people we love based on birthdays, dinners, weddings, or other key events. Dropping in on a friend for a cuppa and a chat may not feel like a rewarding use of your time, but there are benefits for all involved.

Deepening our relationships with friends, uncles, nieces, children of friends, next door neighbours, and shopkeepers means consciously giving away some of our precious time. If we actively strive to give part of our time to others, we can find that all parts of our life become richer and more enjoyable. Try it! Give away your time today and see what happens.

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