There’s something about being in lockdown that has resonated very positively with me. The other day I found myself walking through my neighbourhood during a very pleasant autumnal like, but sunny day. There were people everywhere, walking about, smiling, waving, being genuinely cheerful. All adhering strictly to the 2 metre social distancing requirements, but also obviously enjoying the moment. There was an uncanny sense of optimism in the air.
No one was moving anywhere fast. The speed of life was just a click above sedate. It was bliss.
It occurred to me that during lockdown we’ve all experienced a sense of what life used to be like. A time when there was time and people took time and gave their time. People seemed very happy, and hence the optimism hung thick in the air.
It reminded me of why sports shows use slow motion to such great effect. It gives people time to look at someone else do something amazing (or stupid) at a speed that captures the shear magic of what is going on.
It’s also why athletes talk about being in the moment and literally slowing down time in their minds during their events. They are focused on one thing, and one thing only. The rest of the world slows almost to a stop, so that they can concentrate on just that one movement that will beat their opponent.
Musicians do a similar thing when they’re learning new pieces. If they’re struggling with a riff of notes they’ll slow down the action and speed of playing, only speeding up when they’ve got it under control.
There is something to be learnt here.
In contrast, I found myself at school the other day packing up IT devices to send home to families. Computer cables, ipads, packaging and cellotape strewn everywhere. I’d told the Ministry of Ed that I’d be in and out of my school in one and half hours. Time was of the essence! Speed was king.
For the first hour and fifteen minutes I enjoyed the adrenaline rush of, well, rushing. I hadn’t felt like this in a couple of weeks and I got a kick out of it. When I knew that there was no way I was going to finish in time and that I had to press on regardless, the adrenaline turned to stress and the enjoyment flowed away. It was replaced with angst, agitation, frustration and annoyance. I felt like a washing machine that couldn’t finish it’s last cycle!
I feel the same now as I type this piece. I’ve spent all day planning for Level 3, organising Bubbles, dealing with personnel issues and losing a couple of hours of work due to an IT issue. The washing machine cycle is back! I realised that my usual way of working was often at this speed and intensity. No wonder I am often shattered!
And it made me think. Yes there are times when speed is crucial, but that doesn’t need to be the norm or my usual modus operandi. What if I was to look at the way I work, like that autumnal afternoon in the sun, where I can take my time, enjoy my time, give my time and appreciate the time that I have with others.
We all need to look at what the lockdown has given us – time. We need to understand that constant speed is going to mean constant tiredness, and that the best thing we can learn to do is not speed everything up, but to slow everything down.
I’m keen to hear how you plan to do this when you get back to work? How do you think you could change the culture of your school to embrace “having time to take your time?”