Coming off of my previous blurb about “The Fundamental Paradox of Secondary Education”, I’ve realized that there’s enough time in the world for all we want to do. Yet, it’s worrying about all the different things we should, could, and have to do that minimizes the time available to do them.
Everytime the bell strikes 2:20 at my school, it’s dismissal time. Quickly, relentlessly, thoughts of the homework I have to do, and the time I’ll need to complete it, come rushing in. I always think I have too little time. Yet that’s not quite the case. As I likely mentioned – implicitly or definitely – in my previous post, the school day provides a rigorously structured work schedule that says, “OK, for 2 hours you work full on on this; for 2 hours after that, full on on this, etc.” But the second that bell rings at 2:20, that stratification is long gone and dearly missed by bedtime.
Reason I worry about not having time isn’t because I won’t have time. If I could match the same work ethic I have at school at home; why, I could finish the homework for 2 days ahead in one night. But what keeps me, and a lot of us, from doing that? For some of us, it might be too many extracurriculars; for others, obtrusive work hours; for yet others, stipulations that don’t let you get home until 8 o’ clock at night. Yet we can all adapt to our individual situations. The soccer player who stays at school practicing until five o’ clock will find a way to budget his time if he truly desires, as will the person whose parents can’t get him home until 8 o’ clock; as will the struggling adolescent working to make ends meet.
Yet what I – and hopefully at least some of “we” – can’t adapt to, is the workings of our ever-active minds. I’m always reevaluating what I’ve done, what I’m doing, and what I have to do; finding justifications for everything that’s on my little planner/calendar thing. Homework is easily justifiable, but what about hour-long talks with friends on the phone? What about 30 mins. of hanging out with friends afterschool? Are they all justifiable?
Well, by some reasons yes, and surely by others not – my math teacher would probably tell me to hurry home and study logarithms or something. But, once I get home, I start thinking about all I maybe should do, all I obviously haven’t done. The thoughts overtake me so much that I lose valuable time on my work – time that wouldn’t be lost if I had a forced, worry-free schedule like school imposes. Independent work; I can do, and as successful as it usually ends up being for me, it doesn’t escape my qualms about how I spend my time.
Yet that’s the biggest paradox. The main deterrent to my productivity isn’t an overabundance of things I take on, neither is it an injurious dearth of time to do those things in. It’s worrying about either of them. That’s what never fails. Not too little time, not too many tasks. Only too much thought.