Thinking About Time

For starters, I do not have any tattoos. Lots of reasons why but that is not my point. If I were to get a tattoo, I would be tempted to get the number 1440 tattooed somewhere. The reason? No matter who we are, rich or poor, tall or short, old or young, we all have 1,440 minutes in the day. That number should be the most important number for all of us. So much of what we become is a direct result of what we do with every single one of our 1,440 minutes.

I always find myself thinking about the subject of time. Maybe because I am always late but that is a topic for another time. I am constantly up against the pressure of time, scrambling and trying to get tasks done and there never seems to be enough time in the day to do it all. I am sure that everyone can relate to that feeling.

As a parent, I can also understand the pressure of time management when it comes to balancing things and carving out time to spend with my kids. Of course there is the debate over whether kids need quality time vs. quantity of time. I once heard it explained another way…the word “love” to kids is actually spelled t-i-m-e. That statement is so true!

That’s the thing about time. Everyone knows the right answers to the questions about time and making the most of it, but few of us actually succeed and doing it. One thing is wasting time at work, but when it comes to our roles as parents and the fleeting amount of time we actually have to pour in and spend with our kids, we really should be better. Here is a short list of my favorite time tested strategies to make time count with kids. ..

1. Set Priorities-Sit down and list what’s truly important to you. By important, I mean life and death important. Michael Hyatt talks about picturing your funeral and focusing on the conversations that you want people to be having and map it back to how you are spending your time now to make those conversations and relationships a reality now, before it might actually be too late. And, reality check time, there is an actual date on a calendar with a circle on it for each of us when our time will be up and it will be too late. From that position and perspective, make some sobering and courageous decisions on how to spend your time. Your first list might be of those activities that no longer make the important list and stop doing those things at once. Through this process, make sure your decisions reflect what truly matters. Have a choice between cooking a fancy dinner or talking with your child about school? Order a pizza and talk.

2. Spend One-on-One Time-Your child needs time to talk with you. Give them the time to see and hear how you would apply your experience and your values to the problems that they are facing. There’s nothing like spending time alone with a parent to make a child of any age feel special. Try making an appointment to spend some time alone with your child each week. Write it on your calendar. Then treat that appointment as seriously as you would an important business meeting. More so.

3. Use the “Off” Button-You probably have more time than you think, but it’s being stolen from you and your child by electronics! So what can you do?

• Turn off the television. Record any programs you or your child can’t miss.

• Turn off the cell phone. Let the calls and text messages go during your time with your kids.

• Turn off the computer. It is amazing how much time can be lost to searching the Internet, checking status updates on Facebook, and emailing.

4. Use Car Time-You probably spend a lot of time in the car with your child. It’s a wonderful opportunity to have meaningful conversations and assume your role as a real influence on your child. Your child is a “captive audience” in the car and you can take full advantage by talking about things that really matter.

I think all of these are great suggestions for maximizing the time you have. I am no expert on time management, but I do know that right now is a crucial time in the lives of our children. In fact, I think that some of the wisest words I have ever heard were actually sung in a song by Van Halen (RIP Eddie) on this subject. Go back with me and sing along if you know the song…

”Right now, hey

It’s your tomorrow

Right now,

C’mon, it’s everything

Right now,

Catch a magic moment, do it

Right here and now

It means everything”

Maybe this whole thing is easier if we stop calling it time management. Forget for a second about time management. It really comes down to attention management. The question becomes, “What are we going to choose to spend our precious attention on right now?” Where we spend our attention tells everyone else what we consider to be important. As a parent, we should be committed to spending our time on what is most important each and every day. In the end, we need to remember that nothing replaces the impact that we can have in the lives of our children. Let’s do whatever we can to work together to maximize the time that we have right now because it really does mean everything.

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