Is time passing you by?
Time is a valuable and abundant resource – we all have it, yet we so often waste it. If we don’t slow down and pay attention to our lives, it gradually slips away without us really noticing. How often do you find yourself surprised by how much time has passed since … your last holiday, the last time you started a new job, your children were babies, … you were a child yourself?
We all have time; use it intentionally
Time is not a limited resource in the same way that money is. We all have time. Although some of us have less time left than others, none of us really know when our time will run out. So it is important that we choose to use it wisely. I’m not suggesting that we should fill every waking minute with new challenges, adventures and experiences, it is so important to slow down and to relax too. The difference is in how intentional we are about the time we spend, and how we use it to benefit our own growth and that of others.
Mindful vs. Mindless use of time
There is a huge difference between mindless ‘relaxing’ and the mindful, intentional decision to relax and replenish ourselves.
Scenario 1: We sit down in an evening to unwind. The television is on and we lounge in front of it, snacking and scrolling mindlessly through social media feeds on our handheld devices. There is a programme that we wanted to watch but it’s just finishing and we realise that we haven’t paid much attention to the TV as we’ve been continually distracted by social media. Before we know it 3 hours has passed. We haven’t really noticed what we have eaten, or indeed how we reached the end of that packet of biscuits! We’ve had a ‘restful’ evening, yet we don’t feel rested … sound familiar?
Scenario 2: A deliberate choice to relax and unwind. We know that social media can be distracting so we make a conscious decision to turn off any devices and store them out of sight. There is a programme we want to watch later in the evening so we schedule that in and don’t turn the TV on before that. We choose to spend the next 90 minutes fully focussed on something we truly love and will bring values to our lives (reading, walking, doing yoga, baking …). Afterward we sit down and watch the programme that interests us, fully engaged in the process, and turn the television off after it ends. We allow ourselves a final treat – a cup of tea & a couple of delicious biscuits. Not distracted by anything else we are able to actually taste and enjoy the food in front of us. We go to bed feeling fully rested.
Both scenarios describe a ‘relaxing’ evening, including watching TV and eating biscuits. While this might not be everyone’s idea of a chilled out night, there is a clear difference between doing these things mindlessly and mindfully.
Like anything else in life, learning to use time intentionally is a skill that becomes easier with practice. It is not possible to be totally mindful about how we spend every single minute, however we can all benefit from beginning to practice using our time more intentionally. Start simply; think about the things in life that bring you happiness and plan time to do them for one evening, or even just one hour. Engage mindfully in the process and see how you feel – I’m confident that once you start to pay attention to how you spend your time that you will begin to notice the benefits of using your time more intentionally.
Don’t let time pass you by
Time is continually slipping away and it is so important to value the time that we have. Whether we decide to use our leisure time to go for a walk on the beach, learn a language, take up a new sport, play with our children, write a blog post, eat some biscuits or even watch TV, the important thing is that it is a mindful and intentional decision to do so. After all, we are exchanging minutes, days and hours of our lives in order to do these things, so it is vital that whatever we are doing we focus on doing it fully and intentionally.