Extension Connection

Extension Connection

Realize the Value of Time

Photo of Angela Reinhart

Angela Reinhart
Unit Educator, Family Life
areinhrt@illinois.edu

You've likely seen the poem entitled "Realize" about the value of time. It goes…

"To realize the value of one year, ask a student who has failed a final exam.

To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week, ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of one hour, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of one minute; ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize the value of one second, ask a person who has survived an accident.

To realize the value of one millisecond, ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have. You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special."

The unknown author has a very keen sense of the value of time and what it means to savor the moment. Time is something we often take for granted, unless we have some focused purpose for its use.

Many of us are so busy these days we imagine ourselves like the spinning plate entertainer on the old Ed Sullivan show. We start spinning plates (representing our tasks to accomplish), one plate and pole at a time. But soon we are running back and forth amongst the spinning plates on the poles, giving them another spin so that none fall. After about the fourth or fifth plate, it becomes very difficult to keep them all going. Usually at least one plate crashes and the others are caught inches from the floor by the time the performance ends. If we succeed, we feel exhilarated – at least temporarily! But more often than not, we are exhausted - until the next round!

Although we don't always enjoy multitasking – doing many things at once – we cling to its necessity in order to take care of the things we need and like to do. In the long run, it's hard on our health.

Dan Thurmon challenged this notion saying, "Multitasking is a myth," at the U of I Biennial Women's Conference Now is the Moment. He explained that our ability to do many things at once results from practicing many things quickly. For example, he once met a driver on the road who was eating a sandwich with one hand, talking on the cell phone with his other hand, and steering with his knee! But instead of thinking as this person doing three things at once (and dangerously), Dan said he's really doing one thing at a time really fast. He's eating, when talking on the phone while driving. He's doing three things fast in a pattern.

The significance of this is, like juggling, spaces exist between the throws and the catches. Doing many things at once is a choice. We don't have to put ourselves and others in danger while we go about our busy day. We can have control over the patterns and speed of our every day lives. But, we have to let go of something in order to get a grip on something else.

We can and do need to stop to rest, relax, and play once in a while. Maybe, instead of saying, "I don't have time to …" we should say, "Life is too short NOT TO …" It goes back to the perspective in the poem. Our reward is we can become more in alignment with our energy and talents, and make lasting contributions to our families, work place, and communities in which we live. Remember the words of Denis Waitely, "Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can't buy more hours. Scientists can't invent new minutes. And you can't save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow."

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