Michael Senior, Ambrose Treacy College Principal, reflects on how fast time flies by and how to make more time for joy, rather than rushing from one task to another.
The English playwright William Congreve once commented that ‘uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life.’ Congreve’s comments could well be written about the youth of today and in particular the young men of Ambrose Treacy College. As the term draws to its slow end, I have reflected on the term’s journey and once again it has been filled with plenty of surprises.
The fun that the boys have and the wonderful unpredictability of their behaviour certainly give the school life. Many may add a qualification that they may also produce the odd grey hair! I am constantly amazed at their open friendliness, their willingness to share their thoughts, their constant smiles, and their readiness to forgive and forget. If it could be captured, you would like to bottle it and sell it to the many adults in this world who despair, fear the future and live with ingrained mistrust.
When I look back, as I always do at the end of a term, I am amazed at how our time seems to never move in the moment and yet fly past when viewed on a bigger scale. Time is an interesting concept. H. Jackson Brown Jr. was quoted as saying that ‘Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.’ How we use our time can often say a lot about the person we are. What are the things that seem to take up your time? Are these things the same ones that you would say are important in your life? Sadly our world can often be more about what isn’t important.
Our world is full of people who scurry from task to task, always checking e-mails, making a call, running an errand or catching up with people. Those who do this often subscribe to the idea that ‘staying busy’ equals working hard and being successful. I know at times I am guilty of this paradigm.
The flip side of this is the old adage, ‘work smarter, not harder.’ The intent of this is to avoid being robotic in how we approach tasks, and try to be thoughtful and always ask yourself if something can be done more efficiently or eliminated altogether. Managing time isn’t about squeezing as many tasks into your day as possible. It’s about simplifying how you work. It’s about clearing away space in our life to make time for people, play and rest.
I know that my life isn’t working for me when I don’t find time for the things that bring me joy and energy – my family and our grandchildren, time for exercise and a long walk over the weekend, time in the garden and taking photos. I think it is a healthy question that needs revisiting – what brings you joy in your life? The important follow up question is, is there time for this joy? We are all allotted 24 hours in each day, no matter what you do, where you are from, what your job is or what your title is. The harsh reality that I know is that there really are enough hours in a day for everything you’d like to do, but it may take a bit of rearranging and re-imagining to find them. As adults we have an important role as role models for the young. What do our children or students learn from watching us and in particular how we either control the time in our lives or how we allow time to control our lives. I know there would be many readers by now who may be starting to question my sanity and my grip of reality. I know that I don’t always get it right, but I do know that it is important to continually challenge myself on how I use my time and set priorities. One of the things that I am proud of at ATC is our insistence that staff prioritise time to ensure that they can be there for their own children’s moments to either perform on an assembly or to receive an award. The small time (in the whole scheme of the school year) taken here are priceless and can never be recaptured. The benefits of a happy and balanced teacher are key to being a caring teacher.
In a recent article I read ’7 reminders for Task-Oriented Parents’, Cara Plett (an in-house writer for Focus on the Family Canada) discussed that it’s true that distractions are a part of normal life in a tech-saturated, task-oriented, overly committed society. But normal isn’t always best. Cara went to say that parents who often find themselves using phrases like ‘maybe later’ and ‘in a minute’ could make better use of those few seconds. In her words ‘they cost me a future – a future relationship with the people I love and precious future memories of time spent together.’
This was a timely reminder for me to enjoy precious moments and always look for the joy in all we do.