It’s About Time

Time. The one thing that we cannot control but something that we can control how we spend.

Until very recently, I was living in a world of fast pace and competition. Competition with myself at every turn. How quickly could I complete X, Y and Z tasks? How soon could I get everything done and then have some ‘me time’, which ironically, I filled with more ‘stuff’ that I needed to do. 

It took for someone to say to me during a retreat “do you know, you have a real ‘thing’ about time? Everything you say and do seems to be subconsciously linked to time and speed”. 

It was true… but why?

I would never quite feel that I had done enough. Even when I had worked flat out all day, I would look at the things I hadn’t done, rather than celebrating the things that I had. I was spending precious time pressurising myself about… TIME! 

It took some reflection to really dive into why this was. Was it the way I was raised? The culture that we live in? Or was there something more to it than that?

Then I realised. As a teacher, I have only ever known life on a timetable. Every part of a teacher’s day is scheduled and we work incredibly hard to ‘get things done quickly!’. I am not used to letting things unfold and flow as I’m constantly watching the clock. 

I understand that working to deadlines and being productive and proactive are good things to be able to do. Making lists of things we need to get done and ticking them off one by one feels good and satisfying, however, I also think that it’s vital that teacher’s give themselves the permission to go ‘off timetable’, particularly during the weekends and evenings where possible. It’s hard to believe that teachers are normal people who have normal lives and also do food shopping like everyone else! Just pray that your students don’t spot you buying cereal or other ‘normal’ items, as they are convinced you live in school and never leave.

Our wellbeing is something that we sometimes regard as an afterthought, particularly when we have books to mark, lessons to plan and resources to make! However, if we let our wellbeing slip, everything else starts to suffer. 

In allowing ourselves to have guilt-free ‘us’ time and engaging in things that help us to relax and feel happy is really something that we should be prioritising in the interest of bringing our best selves to the table. It may be considered admirable to be on top of your workload, seen as the person who doesn’t drop the ball but the truth is, we’re human and we ALL drop the ball at times. 

Now that I am aware that I have a tendency to clock-watch and time myself to get things done in record time, I have referred myself back to mindful practices that allow me to be more ‘in the moment’, centred and present. This is when I feel at my best, strongest and most focussed. It is only then that I can start to do things at my best as I have allowed myself those moments of inner peace and calm. 

Do I still race to get things done? Occasionally, yes. And there is a time and place for that. 
Do I allow time to consume my thoughts and put pressure and guilt on myself for not achieving the unachievable? No.

Be realistic in what you want to achieve in a day and CELEBRATE when you do those things. Feel into the emotions of success and self-appreciation and notice the lift it gives you.

We are all at the mercy of time, and none of us know how long we have left, but we absolutely have the power to choose how we spend our time and whether or not we choose to take time to just stop, breathe and be in the present.

Don’t miss the views all around because you’re too focussed on the race. 

Take your time, because it is YOURS to take.

Rachel Ashcroft

Founder and managing Director at Colour Your World – Mindfulness and Wellbeing