The most precious commodity in this world is time. I have come to the realization that as much as it may not seem, it is an unrenewable resource for which there is no replacement or equal. Just like an investment stock, we need to know where we are investing our time and how it is being spent. Take a look at my “time” portfolio:
There are 1,440 minutes in a day. To examine how I use my time, I have chunked those minutes into 3 categories: work, home, and sleep.
Well, I try to devote at least 7 hours – 420 minutes – to sleep, everyday. Sleep is necessary for me (not everyone) to function the next day with a smile on my face. I feel it is important to be a smiling, happy person by appearance because nobody deserves a grumpisourus. Does it happen anyway? Sometimes. Not gonna lie. But I try to make those days few and far between.
If 420 minutes are devoted to sleep each day, that means I have 1,020 remaining minutes to spend with the people I love: my family, my coworkers, and my students.
Let’s examine my time at home next. I get home around 5:30 – 6:00 during the week after a 30ish-minute commute (which is when I usually make phone calls to friends and family). My husband and I usually eat dinner within the first hour I am home (30 minutes) and then on two (or three) days a week we go for a walk or a run (another 30 minutes) as we are training for a half-marathon in October. So we get 60 minutes of undivided attention per day. When you look at that as a fraction 60/1,440, that’s pretty sad. Less than 5% of my weekday is spent with the love of my life (but I guess you can say we make up for it on the weekends). After our run, we come home and veg out in front of the TV. Sometimes I grade papers and sometimes I fall asleep. But that wind-down time is still a valued part of our day. Even if our focus isn’t on each other, we enjoy just being next to each other on the couch, watching our favorite TV shows or a good baseball or football game.
So now let’s evaluate the real chunk of time: my time at school.
I arrive at work at 7:00am every day. I plan and prepare for the day until the bell rings at 7:45, and then I have my game day face on ready for the day.
From 7:45 until 11:20am I am 100% committed to the students in my classroom. I put all of my morning energy – created by my 1 or 2 cups of morning joe – into guiding, modeling, molding, teaching, correcting, facilitating, smiling, comforting, assessing, reassessing, and celebrating my 7th graders. It is so much more than “teaching math.” From 11:20 – 12:15 I meet with other educators and academic facilitators (planning time is hardly to “plan” anymore) and then at 12:15 I am back downstairs in the cafeteria with my 7th graders again, going full-throttle until 3:15 when the final bell rings. And even then, I am with them for another 10 minutes as we walk to the bus lot. So, let’s see, from 7:45 to 3:25…everyday, Monday through Friday, I am spending a grand total of 460 undivided and completely devoted minutes with my kids. That is 40 more minutes than I devote to sleep and 400 more minutes than my husband gets from me.
Before I head back home I stay around school to contact parents (10-15 minutes), grade papers, clean my classroom (sweep and erase pencil graffiti off the desks), and set up my SMART board slides for the next day. And then I’m on the road towards home by 5:00, for a supreme total of 10 hours, or 600 minutes.
Week Day Time Break Down:
Sleep: 420 minutes
School: 600 minutes
Home (“awake” minutes): 320 minutes
Devoted & undivided time to my husband: 60 minutes
Commute: 60 minutes
Grand Total: 1,440
Am I ok with the way my time is used? I guess my answer to that question most of the time is: yes. I realize time is precious. Sometimes it is used wisely, sometimes not. There are days when I feel that my minutes are being valued, and there are times when I feel that my time has just been wasted. But at the end of the day, I have to look at my professional and personal goals. I think that if you look at those goals and you realize that your minutes are not being spent at accomplishing those goals, then you need to adjust those minutes somehow. Keep reevaluating until you feel your time is the most wisely invested commodity out there.
And keep smiling.