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  • Gary Borland

#24 Time to Change?

Time – elusion, delusion or opportunity?

The last 2 blogs considered some perspectives on busyness and how we spend our time. Let’s build on those. If we accept that ‘life is busy’ for many people, the opportunity then is not to deny that, but to create a powerful new context for ourselves in which our busyness translates to what’s important and matters most to us. But it can be helpful to consider that perhaps ‘busyness’ is a concept – let’s call it an idea. Wikipedia describes concepts as abstract ideas - existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence. That seems to suggest that ‘busyness’ is not like an object, say a glass or a car, or a tree; it’s likely that most people would agree on what the object was, but that’s not the case with the concept of busyness. Yet, it often gets talked about or described as though it is an object. So, when someone tells another person they are busy, there could be an assumption by the speaker that the listener understands what they mean. But the listener is likely to have their own – often very different – perspective on what it means to be busy. The speaker and listener nod and smile, share tales of their never-ending busyness and then go off to the next item on the ‘to-do’ list, now somehow comforted in the assumption that they are indeed busy and that life is busy. Confirmation and reinforcement are 2 likely by-products of this seemingly insignificant exchange between the two.

If you’re anything like me, I don’t tend to enjoy being confronted with a perspective that is significantly at odds with my views, opinions or perhaps even lifestyle. But what if I really examined the gap between what I say and how life outworks? What opportunities might be available to me if I could let go of being trapped inside a frame called busyness? This is absolutely not about the denial of the challenges of how we spend our time; work, families, relationships and all manner of other things compete for our time. It is also absolutely not to play down or minimise the very real challenges for some people where in seasons of their life they really have few if any options; to those people, I recognise and acknowledge how extraordinary you are being in this season. But beware of jumping quickly to ‘that’s me’! That’s unlikely to be where most of us dwell. But for others, if my belief really is that there is nothing I can shift that will cause a significant change in my life, then perhaps I am powerless. A victim of the circumstances in which I find myself. With no option but to keep doing what I do and explain what I do and why I do it. And spend quite a lot of time explaining it!

"Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”Harvey MacKay

If the days are activity, task and action filled, what are those activities, tasks and actions? Why do they take the time they do? How much time do I spend talking about them, complaining and explaining where the priceless gift of time went? How many hours in a week are spent in thoughts about all those activities, tasks and actions? Time is all around us. We are surrounded by opportunity. But getting off a hamster wheel or making a significant change to align with what’s important and matters to you takes courage. The courage to be different. The courage to let go of feeling compelled to fit in, to meet the expectations of others, or the need for fulfilment through what we do rather than who we are.

“It’s surprising how much free time and productivity you gain when you lose the busyness in your mind.” Brittany Burgunder

Schedules, plans and tasks can be really helpful, sometimes essential. The devices on which those are managed can be helpful but can quickly become (or have already become) a relentless master of time. Are you creating schedules, plans and tasks that serve what’s important and matters to you, or are you serving them?

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labour with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.” Annie Dillard, The Writing Life


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