Monday, August 3, 2009

spending time . . .

Years ago I used to volunteer to do a lot of the extra-curricular things at school. The Yearbook was one of those jobs. One of the great pains of doing the yearbook for a school is that it was due right around Spring Break time. So inevitably, I would spend some of my break time finishing the yearbook before going back to school. At times, if I didn't finish the page layouts then, I would mentally punish myself saying that "I need to get them done" and then drag them back to school when break was over only to finish them for the next two weeks AFTER SCHOOL! Meanwhile, my break time was not mentally relaxing at all.

In another snippet, Christmas break was always fun except for the part where I would count the days of break I had left dreading that as each day passed, I was one day closer to going back to work.

Summer break was the same. Time off, relaxing, going places, doing things, and the nagging notion that it would one day end and I would have to be back at my post at school.

I am writing about these mental gymnastic ideas to talk about a change that happened in my thinking years ago. It has been extremely helpful, and after you experience the same change, you to will find that your time spent "at work" and "at home" will be much more meaningful, pleasurable and productive.

The first change came with a change of phrases. When I worked in the restaurant industry, people used to say "I have to work" when talking about what shift they were working. I decided to change my phrase to "I get to work." Seems small and insignificant, but it sure did change my attitude about going to work. I no longer wasted my off work time by dreading the fact that in a few hours I needed to go to work. Simple action with huge results. I used the time I had off instead of wasting it thinking and dreading about going to work.

The second change came with taking work home from school on my off time to "catch up" on. The yearbook example above is a great illustration. I spent most of my break time badgering myself about what I needed to get done instead of spending time relaxing and getting refreshed to go back and teach again. And then there was the paper grading guilt. I took papers home each evening to grade thinking that I was going to grade them after the children went to bed. By that time, I was tired too, and should have been going to bed as well. Instead, I spent time punishing myself that I again did not do it, and then added the EXTRA work of hauling the papers back and forth to school. Undone. Now I don't take any work home from school. School work stays at school, and home work is at home. What I don't get done at school simply waits until the next day. It has helped me to be more productive at school, and instead of choosing to relax and talk with colleagues, I do some of that work knowing that my time spent there affects my time spent at home.

I could give you several other examples that detail how thinking affects the physical circumstances of your life. I think though, the point has been made. In summary, the way we choose to THINK about our time, directly affects the way we SPEND our time. We all have the same 24 hour period. It doesn't slow down, or speed up for anyone. Each of us "has" time to do the things we want to do. The question is . . . "Are we doing what we want to do?" If not, it is time for a change.

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