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The handstand of time

“I’ve got too much to try and get done, Mum!” wailed my 15 year old son on our way home from school. And he’s right; he’s a busy chap with grade 10 school demands, grade 6 piano, squad gymnastics, magic school and hockey or cricket, dependent on the season.

But he’s always been busy and sometimes I think the ADD brain is best kept busy or it gets permanently distracted by the wrong things.

There’s an additional factor in this mix and it’s the allure of the ‘screen’….

Now I was one of the laggards who greatly resisted my son getting onto tech, until the last moment when he entered Grade 8, and ‘had to’ get onto a phone for communication purposes.

We’ve managed more or less okay with a family computer, in a public space for his school work, but the phone is a more cunning device, which seems to steal every moment it can grab.

Like many, we have rules about phones not being at the dinner table and on the kitchen ‘docking station’ from 8pm where it stays until the next morning. But I ran a little experiment with said 15- year old last night, once he got home from gym. I asked him to account for the 2 hours since he had been home…yes, he’d eaten supper (prepared by ‘moi’) and he’d managed to do attend  to some ablutions (TMI with boys!) but now he was ‘just checking whatsapp’ and this was apparently where the remaining 1,5 hrs had gone?

Now I am no innocent party in this game, since I note that a ‘work’ morning (or evening) can very easily elapse without my having done terribly much more than ‘reply to email’.

So I know the alluring pull of the refresh button or the whatsapp ‘ping’! And it is particularly pervasive at the end of a long day, when it is so much easier to review FB updates (a platform he’s been spared) than actually consciously decide how to relax or spend the few minutes I have left in my day.

And it’s this idea of making conscious choice that I was trying to bring home to him.

Rather than being a ‘victim to a device’, I want him to actively choose how to spend this precious resource called time,

of which he was bemoaning the lack earlier in the day. For it is these ‘in between moments’, which just seem all but ‘lost’ in the screen zone out.

As I so unbecomingly yelled at him, when it was well beyond reasoning hour,

that I had only had to resist these distractions for little more than half my life, it struck home that he is going to need to manage them for the full duration of life beyond 13, when we first issued him with a cell phone.

Now I am well versed in the huge advantages and access to information that tech grants us, but for a time- poor, ADD teen,

I am increasingly convinced that making choices in this arena is near equivalent to asking the alcoholic not to take another drink with no support base around you.

And yes, I’ve heard of the addiction clinics for extreme gamers and teens who have clearly lost control. On the flip side, my sons have also confronted me with the case studies of successful gamers who have built careers on this lucrative millennial career path. So it’s not ‘all bad’!

But in the coaching work that I do, I try to get leaders to be more present to their lives, and empower teams to manage their current reality…it’s my daily battle too. And in what I am encountering and experiencing,

it seems to me that mastering time is  a little like standing on your head;

you need to be critically aware, totally focused and gingerly keep that balance.



5 responses to “The handstand of time”

  1. Jayne says:

    Well said Karen !

  2. Karen Grant says:

    Thanks, Jayne, you’re further along the road than I…

  3. Jill says:

    Great Monday reading to get this week started Karen thank you!

  4. Jane Keen says:

    I am going to lend you a book I got given recently on just this topic (by a Zen monk – married with children!), which you might enjoy and find useful. It is all easier said than done.

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