Where Did The Time Go? by Georgie Tennant

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss

Isn’t time a funny thing? I have been conscious of it more than ever lately. As a parent watching my child navigate the final months of primary school, I’m mentally checking off each school run as I do it. As the teacher of a Year 11 class, I am counting down the lessons until study leave and then exams. As a writer, I’m constantly juggling thoughts, ideas and deadlines, trying to work out how to fit some writing in between all the other calls for my ever-squeezed time.

Time is a funny thing because of its intriguingly malleable qualities. We will all confess that the minutes seem interminable when we are waiting for our turn at the dentist. And conversely, we admit the truth in the old cliché that “time’s winged chariot” indeed speeds by when we are on holiday or participating in an activity we love. It is my favourite way to joke with students who ask the time in my lessons and can’t believe the lesson has gone so quickly. “You know what they say,” I retort to a questioning 15-year-old – “time flies when you’re having fun!” – usually met with an eye roll, as they definitely won’t admit that being in an English lesson is their idea of fun.

Recently, I filled an A2 sheet of paper with all the things that were calling for my time, to illustrate to my husband why I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It can feel like that, sometimes, can’t it, in certain seasons? In others, when things slow down, we might struggle at the other end of the spectrum, feeling the ticking seconds condemning us as we while them away, feeling purposeless and bored.

In a leadership course I took part in this week, the speaker challenged us that we are all gifted a fresh 1440 minutes on the stroke of every midnight – a fresh deposit in the bank. The following midnight, however we have used those minutes, they are reset again – a fresh gift for a new day. He challenged us that we all have the same minutes – how will we use them?

One of his tips was to work out where in the day we have high energy levels and utilise that energy accordingly – save the tasks that require more focus for those times, and spend the lower energy parts of the day doing lower-focus things. Of course, that assumes we have energy at all. I smiled wryly as I remembered a meme that had resonated with me in the past – “I am not an early bird nor a night owl. I am some sort of permanently exhausted pigeon.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like that at times! It also assumes some autonomy over my time management; when I have 5 classes scheduled to pass through my class room in a day, my time is accounted for by someone else and not much energy is left for other things. With any useful tip like this, we have to work out how to best use it in our own, unique circumstances.

Deadlines are another thing that affect the elasticity of time. Months before a deadline, we might feel we have an age to get our carefully crafted words onto the page. As we reach weeks or even days before, suddenly time takes on its wings once more and we lament not starting our work much sooner. I have got better at this, but I do remember a deadline at University where I read ‘Paradise Lost,’ as well as critical theory about it and wrote a 4000-word essay on it in a week, driven by the adrenaline of the time pressure. I wouldn’t recommend it, but we have to work with the time we have, in our busy lives.

With my writing, I am finding that thinking and note-making time helps. With swimming-mad teen and tween sons, I often find myself in the car outside a pool with an hour to spare. Even if I can’t find the focus to write at these times, reading, researching and jotting down some notes means that, when I do find the time to write, it flows more easily and takes less time, with the pre-preparation I have done.

Accepting that time might have to be used in short slots has also helped me. I love to have a day stretching ahead of me, that I can fill with writing; but, as that happens so rarely, I am beginning to see the value of setting a timer and snatching half an hour or an hour where I can. It all adds up!

How do you get over the feeling of never having enough time? How do you find time to write in the middle of a busy life? I would love to hear your tips in the comments.

Proverbs 16 v 9 is one of my favourite Bible verses when I get stressed about time management (especially the NLT’s rendering of it) – “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” It is wise, of course, to do our part in making sure we steward wisely the so-brief time allotted to us. But we can also trust God that He will guide us and direct us to use our time for good, wherever He has placed us.

Georgie Tennant is a secondary school English teacher in a Norfolk Comprehensive.  She is married, with two sons, aged 13 and 11 who keep her exceptionally busy. She writes for the ACW ‘Christian Writer’ magazine occasionally, and is a contributor to the ACW-Published ‘New Life: Reflections for Lent,’ and ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone.'  More recently, she has written 5 books in a phonics series, published by BookLife and has just written 3 more. She writes the ‘Thought for the Week’ for the local newspaper from time to time and also muses about life and loss on her blog: https://ift.tt/YmgyKJt

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