November 4th

The gift of time.

This is a phrase I use a lot. When a meeting finishes early (“you have the gift of time), when a meeting is cancelled etc etc. Its a favourite phrase of mine as its that delicious feeling of gaining a bit of breathing space, or being able to do something different. Even if sometimes there is a disappointment that you can’t do what you had planned, when you had planned, you have the gift of time. Of course, sometimes it is an illusory gift as that meeting just gets rescheduled elsewhere but sometimes it really is a gift of time to replan as you wish.

I was in this situation this morning when I unexpectedly was given most of the morning free of meetings. “Great!”, I thought, and promptly planned my day to do ALL the things that I’ve not been able to do this week as I’ve got two days leave. And a couple of things I’ve been putting off. You know, the optimist in me, I’ve gained time so….

This would all have been great and might have been a good way to use this precious time gift, however, I was on campus today. My priorities when I’m on campus now are not really to sit in my office doing the deep thinking work with the door shut or do those hard tasks that I’ve been putting off. I try to do that when I’m at home (although this week with kids around that has not been so easy either!). My priority when I am on campus is to try to see people in 3D. To have those serendipitous conversations that happen in the corridor or between meetings that are much more difficult to replicate online. To keep my door open so that people can pop in and say “hi” or catch up about various things.

So I actually ended up spending the morning talking to people in their offices or in my office, going out to lunch with a colleague and progressing things in a different way. I listened, I was listened to, I laughed, I helped solve problems, I brainstormed ideas and was supported. I need to focus on this as I spent some time feeling frustrated that I hadn’t ticked off all the things on my to do list, but then I realised what I had done was equally, if not more important.

It’s so easy when given the gift of time to want to fill it up with loads of things on the to do list, but this morning reminded me of the importance of serendipity. That is something I have missed a lot in lockdown and one of the things I really like when I am on campus. So the next time I end up with the gift of time, I think I will try to embrace it as an unexpected treat and not fill it with ALL the things. Although maybe crossing 1 thing off the neverending to do list might help me find some balance.

What will you do the next time you are given the gift of time?

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