First published Monday, September 8, 2014

Time. The one thing that is guaranteed to provoke a range of comments. “Time goes so quickly.” “Ugh today is dragging so slowly.” “Oh I’d love to, but I’m so busy, I just don’t have the time.” “Don’t wish your life away, there’s plenty of time to do that when you’re older.”

The list goes on, and no doubt there are many more thoughts that could be added. Sometimes time is of the essence as the saying goes, when there’s an emergency that requires prompt medical attention, those minutes and seconds can be the difference between life and death. On other occasions, we’d like to pause time or slow it right down to be able to make the most of precious moments together with a loved one, and yet the clock races on.

There are many articles about how busy we are, and whether or not we are busy being busy, or trying too hard to do too much, and then berating ourselves for time spent doing one thing over another. It’s sometimes easier to complain about their being too much to do rather than to try and take control of it, preferring to beat ourselves up for not spending more time with family or friends, rather than ‘let down’ someone else by saying no.

Realistically however, the greatest regrets will come from not spending time doing the things that matter most to us individually. Whether that be chatting with parents or children, or taking time to enjoy a hobby, activities that enrich our lives are those that bring happiness and colour to the greater picture. The challenge of course is how to make time to do this.

Of course, there are occasions when it just doesn’t seem possible to say no, to insist on taking time out or off to go and walk in the park, or take a picnic to the beach with the children. Staying up til the wee small hours to do something for you or getting up early to create time to get that walk in or meditation practice can be useful, but only if it doesn’t impact on the rest of your day negatively. Taking time out for yourself is important, and whilst it would be lovely to take an hour, two hours, even a whole day to do so, the pressures of work, family and other commitments can mean that it’s virtually impossible to do so.

So….. start small. Two minutes away from the desk, properly enjoying that cup of tea, no email, no spreadsheet or presentation to distract you can make a real difference. Popping out of the office at lunchtime and even if it is to go the post office or the bank, as you walk, instead of hurrying along to get as much done as possible, take time to look around, feel the sunshine or breeze, hear the birds singing. When you get home, allocate a half hour, or ten minutes and put the phone down, stop checking emails, social media and chat with your other half or the kids about their day, and be there for the conversation – listen, interact, watch. They’ll appreciate the attention you’re giving them, and you’ll be more in tune with them as a result too.

Time is precious, it is valuable and there is it seems never quite enough of it. We can make more of it though, and small bite size chunks taken here and there, two minutes at lunch, 5 minutes in the evening, dedicated to spending time with family or friends, or just for you, will soon add up, and help provide some balance in the constant whirlwind that is life. Try it, if it doesn’t happen or doesn’t work, that’s ok too, but if you do get to have a moment spare here or there, grab it and enjoy it!

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