Time Off...or Time On?

The difference that deeper connection can make

I remember reading an article a couple of years ago where the author spoke about ‘Time On’ rather than ‘Time Off’. It really resonated with me then, and a busy period at work has brought it back to me recently.

We live in a world with vast volumes and variety of data coming our way, often simultaneously and very often distracting us from being focused and connected with the people or activities we intended to give our full attention to. (I don’t know about you, but the email/newsfeed temptation draws me in now and again!)

When thinking about weekends and other free time, the theory is that if you focus on Time On instead of Time Off, you ask yourself deeper questions about how you’re investing it, and how present and connected you are. The end result can be a greater sense of happiness and contentment. After all, these are the precious moments we look forward to, with the people who are most significant in our lives. And yet, it can often be the time that’s most readily frittered away without really noticing. Or we get caught up in endless lists of things that ‘have to’ or ‘should be’ done.

First, connect with yourself

If you would like to understand your own sense of connection, think about the type of activity when you’re really ‘in the zone’, grounded…..some would call it a state of flow. For me it’s when I’m cooking. I am completely absorbed in what I’m doing. I never have the inner chatter going on. I have no sense of time, urgency, juggling, even when I would otherwise have a lot on my mind. I usually have music on, dancing like no one is watching - hopefully they aren’t! - and I’m fully engaged in the alchemy of herbs, spices, and seasonings. I enjoy the freedom and surprise of cooking without recipes, or I adapt them in my own way. I’m experiencing the end result (the meal) as if it’s already happened – the quality, taste, and presentation of the food, and most importantly sharing it with people I love.

Try it for yourself this weekend. Pick something you love doing and give it your full attention. Notice what you’re seeing, hearing, and feeling. What is characteristic of your behaviour, and how is this different from the more stressful or challenging moments of your week? What’s important to you while you’re doing it? How might you bring this sense of connection into other areas of your life?

Connecting with others

The example that is closest to my heart is being fully present with my kids. There’s a big difference between rushed, half-listening chatter while I’m paying bills online, and having really engaged and connected conversations with them or being playful together. I like to join them in their world whether it would be something that would normally interest me or not. (By the way, if you want to know anything about Pokemon, Lord of the Rings, or the Wings of Fire books, I’m your woman!)

I've found that this can be like switching the lights on in our relationship. The instant feedback and state change when they fully connect with me is beyond words.

So how will you be investing your Time On this weekend?

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