Thoughts on time

During the last month or so I haven’t been making the same contributions to my #PLN in the same way as I had earlier in the year.   My contributions to twitter dropped.   My blog posts reduced significantly in frequency.    My writing and submitting articles to magazines such as UkEdChat slowed.    Now this wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that it bothered me, I was concerned by the fact I no longer seemed to have the time to get these things done.    Where was the time going?

An easy answer might be to suggest the initial phases of the academic year were busy and therefore time was being spent on on work related tasks with blogging, etc. being prioritized as less important and therefore being provided with significantly less on my time.    The difficulty with this answer is that I felt concerned by my lack of blogging, etc. which suggests that I considered it important enough to allocate more time to than I was doing.   This seems to run contrary to my easy answer.

Time is often an issue in education; there isn’t enough time.    The issue with this statement is that the logical response to not having enough of something is to try to get more of it.    Unless someone has invented time travel I am at a loss to see how we might achieve this with time; the amount of time we have in a day, week, month and year is fixed.

Maybe a better statement is therefore “I need to use my time better”.    This is a less likely statement to make as it focuses on my actions.   It is my actions that are the issue as opposed to an external factor such as the lack of available time.    It is more difficult to state this as it highlights and acknowledges ineffectiveness in myself.    Acknowledging your own personal inadequacies is never easy.    On reflection this seems to fit my current situation, the issue is either my management of time or my perception of how I am managing time; time itself isn’t to blame.

We talk about not having enough time to get done what needs to be done as if time was a variable and the tasks we need to accomplish were fixed.    As I have indicated above time is not variable, it is fixed.     It is our use of time which is variable, ranging from highly effective to highly ineffective and even wasteful.   The further complicating matter surrounds the time taken to do tasks.    We see this as fixed when in fact it is not, especially when we are operating without boundaries of time.   Our spending of time on a task expands or contracts into the time we have available.    If we have 1 hour to do something we will get it done in that hour however if we have a break of 30mins following this hour the task may flow into this break period and effectively take up 1 hour 30mins of our valuable time.    Unallocated time gets absorbed.   This is even more the case where we are really engaged by a task, by what Csíkszentmihályi describes as flow.    During flow we lose all track of time so hours can pass without our awareness.

Well for now, I have at least contributed this post so will feel a little happier as to my online contributions at least in the short term.    It remains to be seen whether in the longer term I will need to review how I am managing my time or review my expectations as to what I will achieve with the available time.




Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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