What real time means to me

All units of measurement have a precise scientific calibration and time is no different. I suppose it’s an attempt to keep order in a world full of chaos.

OK, here it comes. Interesting fact/geek alert...

A second is defined as the time interval required for 9 192 631 770 transitions between two energy states of the cesium atom to take place.

I bet you did not know that.

But I don’t measure my seconds like that.

I prefer, for fairly obvious reasons, to measure my seconds or even, minutes, hours and days by how I have filled them, what I have achieved and how that makes me feel. I’ve also been around long enough now to fully appreciate that time is actually our most precious commodity, so we must spend it wisely. Nothing could have driven this home more that my passing a hospice and reading the sign hung over its gates, which read 'adding life to days'. Yes, I thought to myself, I’d always choose life over days.

It was uncanny timing because in addition to this several other things have happened over the last few weeks, culminating in me writing this blog. Two in particular stand out.

Firstly, there was the public release of this video explaining who we are. I’m not ashamed to tell you that every time I watch it I bristle with pride. I can’t explain why. I do know that the images, words and music do something pretty fundamental to me.

And secondly, we’ve launched our Realtime campaign. I’m biased and, of course, you already know that but I think it’s perfectly pitched. We’re all working longer and harder, some of us chose to and some of us have to. Modern technology allows us to work anywhere and at anytime. In that respect I think it also has a lot to answer for. We’re contactable 24 hours a day and the temptation is to just keep working, dipping into the e-mails, writing up another report, catching up on correspondence you didn’t have time to do when you were actually ‘working’.

But what’s that actually doing to us? We’re more stressed, have less time for our families, spend less time outside and are less fit and healthy as a society than we were even 30 years ago.

Everything is fast now; trains, cars, broadband, food. Most things can happen ‘while you wait’, but you don’t wait – because you’re still working, because you can.

What would happen if you just stopped?

What would happen if you left your smart phone at home or, even better, turned it off and stepped outside and traded your virtual office for the real world? What if, once you were outside, you walked and found yourself on one of our towpaths, next to one of our canals, vibrant and alive with people and nature or peaceful and alive with history? What if you stopped and took in the view, spoke to someone you’ve never met before or bought a cup of coffee and sat down to really appreciate it? What if you took your children, family or friends with you to do this?

The truth is that nothing would happen. The world would not fall apart. Deadlines would still be met, work would still get done. The mundane drudgery associated with living would still all take place.

The truth is that you would feel better.
Better for the time you spent away from the pressure of everyday life and work. Better for the time you spent with yourself or with others. Better aligned to cope with going back to it all.

Time is precious, so make it real.  Don’t be filled with regrets when your allotted quota nears its expiry.

Last date edited: 2 May 2014

About this blog

Sarina Young

Sarina joined us in 2008 as our customer services co-ordinator. Among other things, she manages our national customer service team, complaints procedure and requests for information made to the Trust. She says that the most important thing to her is to be able to go home and feel as though she’s achieved something, however small that might be. Her job is hugely satisfying, widely varied, full of deadlines, immensely interesting, sometimes challenging and no day is ever the same, although some are surprisingly familiar!  

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