The Quality versus Quantity of Time

Last week I was driving in my car with my almost 7-year-old daughter at 8:29am when she said “Darn, I’m always a minute late for my favorite time.” She likes palindromic times – in this case 8:28.

It made me think about what I’ve been working on lately. Life feels hectic – summertime means different routines for each week, forms to fill out for camps, people to coordinate carpools with, a lot of additional details in addition to working my full-time job, taking care of kids and trying to maintain a social life.

In the midst of this, my goal is not to be in a hurry even while living a busy life.

That is to say, to try to be intentional and savor the things I’m doing. For example, I had on my to-do list an item to fix the fence where it had come apart at a post. That activity in and of itself doesn’t really have a high enjoyment value. But the other day when I stepped out to assess the task, I felt the summer sun on my back and saw the green of all the grass and trees around. The flowers of the garden are really flourishing and it’s an incredibly vibrant scene right now.

The task might not be much to talk about – but the scenario is gorgeous. When I hurry, I miss all of that. So I’m trying to take an extra breath or two, how long can that take – 11 seconds if I’m optimizing the length according to the Unified Theory of Breathing? Just a couple breaths add a dimension that makes me think of the quote from Auguste Rodin, “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the opportunity wisely.

There are two different Greek words that speak to this divide: chronos and kairos. Chronos is clock time so when my daughter is saying that she’s a minute late for her favorite time, it’s chronos we’re talking about. Kairos is translated as the “right time” as in now is the right time to step in, speak up or enjoy what I’m doing. I might have to be somewhere at a particular time, as in chronos, but kairos calls me to be mindful of the trip.  

I usually manage to arrive on time, chronos speaking, but I frequently mess up the quality of the time, kairos, in order to do so. In fact, I did that just yesterday when I was hurrying the kids to the car so we’d be on time for our carpool. My almost 3-year-old son wanted to hold the door for his sister and in my desire for efficiency, I didn’t listen to him and missed the right time to enjoy the spark of what he was doing. A small moment that is neither here nor there in the big picture, unless all the small moments are rushed like that.

What I’ve learned is when I manage not to be in a hurry even while life is busy, it prevents me from feeling like I’m a minute late for my favorite time.

How do you approach the quantity versus quality of time? Any tricks to slow yourself down when you are hurrying?

For most posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com or follow me on Instagram @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)


30 thoughts on “The Quality versus Quantity of Time

  1. E X C E L L E N T, post, Wynne, and also how you paused to enjoy the beauty surrounding a mind that might have been focused on fixing a fence. Notice how I paused inbetween each letter of the first post? Of course you did, because you are “living” intentionally, fully engaged. I did not know how to live with that awareness several years ago–relishing the beauty of each moment. I was lost in the matrix of the mind. When I feel that my mind, or circumstance, is trying to push me off the post of my centredness, I notice, and give myself to meditation, even if only for two or three minutes, and regain knowing awareness “as” Self.

    1. Thank you for the kind comment, Art! I love your phrase “push me off the post of my centredness” – what a lovely way to describe all the way our minds push us around! And I love your way of coming back through meditation. B E A U T I F U L!

      1. You’re very welcome, Wynne. I’m glad that you liked the expression about being “centered.” That’s the way it feels to me. Rupert Spira has a great way of expressing this, too. He says,”On whose behalf is action taking place?” or something very similar. Big smile here as I read your last word. T H A N K Y O U!

  2. Taking a break from blogging just now, I poured a glass of ice water and walked around in the sunshine. I pulled a few weeds and listened to the cicada chorus before returning to the computer. I know I spend far too much time sitting and try to remember to intersperse some physical activity.

    I enjoyed hearing how your daughter sees time in palindromes, how your son is learning good manners, and how you fixed your fence while enjoying the flowers. What a good topic for a post! <3

    1. What a great way to get some weeding done, Cheryl! I need to remember to get up from sitting in front of a computer and pull some weeds too. Thanks for that wonderful suggestion!

      And thank you for your nice words. Great to see you here!

  3. Thanks for your post. It puts into words what I am trying to figure out before I head back to the classroom and work in just a few weeks. I wan to be more intentional and aware, but sometimes in the grind, that gets lost. I’m glad you’ve been able to slow down some and make the moment last ❤️

    1. I totally hear you about being intentional and aware — and for me at least, it gets lost when I’m being reactive. I can’t imagine how many things you must have clamoring for your attention in the classroom but I can see how intentionality and focus would get lost. Good luck with that!

      P.S. I hope you guys are doing okay in the heat! Thinking of you!

      1. Thanks for the encouragement! I try to do a short (4-5 minutes) meditation – thanks Calm app! – during lunch if/when possible. We’ll see how it goes! Yep, somehow we’re still in a heat wave here…I hope you all are having decent summer weather up there! I keep my friend’s location in Everett on my weather app. Said about 82 today ❤️

  4. Beautiful post. Just brimming with quiet wisdom. What a wonderful reminder to savor the present (super hard for the likes of me). As John Lennon may have said (there’s debate), “Time you enjoyed wasting isn’t wasted.”

    1. Perfectly said, Jack! I’ll live by the wisdom of John Lennon any day! Which reminds me of a funny story from my carpool this morning. I very much enjoyed listening to a 7-year-old tell me how much she likes the Beatles and try to decide her favorite song. I Am the Walrus seemed to be the choice. 🙂

      1. I like the way she thinks. That’s some good parenting. That song to a 7 year old is either horrifying or hysterical. She choose wisely

  5. To “not be in a hurry even while living a busy life” 🤩. Being present changes everything!

  6. In my opinion it’s best to make time for quality time. Life is busy and that’s not going to change but a stolen hour at the park with family or 30 minutes spent fishing, even just chatting with your family about their day on the way to grab groceries is really all it takes. Just have to make sure you put your phone down when you do it and put them first

    1. Such a great point, LaShelle – put your phone down and put them first! Beautiful – and so resonant with your post from a week ago. Yes yes yes!

  7. A great post, Wynne.
    You have put it wisely and succinctly, “In the midst of this, my goal is not to be in a hurry even while living a busy life. That is to say, to try to be intentional and savor the things I’m doing.”
    This quote says it all.
    “Enjoy every moment you have. Because in life, there are no rewinds, only flashbacks. Make sure it’s all worth it.”
    Best wishes.

  8. This writing is a breath of fresh air Wynne. I dream of a day when non-linear and non-doing experiences are seen as both efficient and effective uses of time (or non-uses of time), if you’ll pardon the pun. Radical paradoxical thinking at play.

    1. What a beautiful dream, Ari! And I love your phrase radical paradoxical thinking – yes! I remember a wonderful interview I heard with author and psychiatrist Scott Peck who said that he got so much done because he spent 2 hours a day doing nothing. A great example of your radical paradox!

  9. I love how you mentioned the differences between chronus and kairos. Most of human history was not beholding to chronus as we are today. But much of it is the product of humans taking opportunities as they presented themselves.

    1. A great point about how being attached to time is a relative recent development for humanity. I love your phrase of the product of humans taking opportunities as they presented themselves. Such a great way to describe the right time! Thanks for reading and adding this perspective to the conversation!

  10. would quality even matter if it was achieved each time? only if quality moments slip out of your hand at times, only then you are able to really enjoy when they don’t. Rather than trying, I prefer going with the flow. So that I have some unexpected stuff to look forward to.

    1. What a great point! Going with the flow is a wonderful philosophy and I think you highlight why it works so well. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  11. I so needed to read this. I take the idea of multitasking way too seriously.
    Thank you !

    Priceless words of wisdom.

  12. The first thing that came to mind when I read your very excellent piece is an episode of Rick Steves’s travel show. (Now that I travel internationally less than I used to, I like to watch such shows as a way of daydreaming and living vicariously.) He was touring Stockholm, Sweden. The show was filled with Europeans sitting in cafes and parks and strolling leisurely through a beautiful urban environment. You could see that they weren’t on anything like “American time.” And I thought, “It would be nearly impossible to find similar scenes when filming any large American city.” I know this doesn’t address your blog perfectly well, but I somehow feel that all this is relevant.

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