By Mike Gustafson//Contributor | Wednesday, September 5, 2018
In high school, I dreamt I had a time machine. A watch or button that, when pressed, could stop time and help me to catch up on sleep, socializing, and school. (Or binge out on SNL reruns.) Usually I dreamt this during my daily five-minute pool deck nap before afternoon practice. I prayed the clock would stand still. It never did.
Septembers mean schedules: School schedules, social schedules, and, of course, swimming schedules. Even with strict scheduling, time seems evasive. When we try to corral time, it escapes and slips through our fingers. Schedules help us manage our time, but schedules can only go so far.
This is a blog for swimmers seeking another September S-word: strategies. Strategies how to best spend time. Strategies for swimmers who, like I did in high school, dream about time machines.
Here are a few Strategies for Multi-Scheduling…
1. Put down screens.
Phones. Computers. Laptops. Smart watches. If you’re holding a screen, unless you’re typing a paper or researching, you’re probably going down a Wikipedia black hole looking up who wrote the movie Clueless or why giraffes’ necks are so long. Not that that information wouldn’t be interesting, but it’s not vital to a September high school existence. In other words: Screens usually waste our time. Screens take up so much time throughout our day, we probably don’t even realize it. They also distract us. One day a week, I turn off my phone, computer, and refuse to look at screens. It’s like taking a vacation for the mind. I often am at my most productive when I purposefully turn off screens. Try it. You’ll be amazed how “putting down your screens” is a mini-time machine in itself.
2. Schedule social time.
You know how people schedule vacations? Try scheduling social time. Socializing is important to make us feel more like people and less like robots. Say every Friday night, you plan to hang out with your non-swimmer friends. Or go to a concert. Or just drive around. Balance is important. We can’t turn into workaholic robots who never have fun. Socializing balances us. So, if you’re feeling like you never see friends, schedule it. “Wanna hang this Friday night AND EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT FOREVER?” might be too much for some non-swimmers, but you can make it a little tradition this fall.
3. If the schedule deviates, don’t stress.
Here’s another schedule strategy: Plan that the schedule can/will change. Schedules should be flexible and be able to deviate. Schedules shouldn’t be etched in stone. Schedules are suggestions for the passage of time. While they help us, we shouldn’t miss out on life because we are adhering to a set-in-stone schedule. So, let’s say it’s Sunday afternoon and a friend calls and wants to go to the beach. Imagine your schedule is like a chess game: If your schoolwork gets moved to a different part of the scheduling chess board, can you go to the beach? Move a schedule around. Play with it. Keep it flexible and don’t stress.
4. “Opportunities, not obligations.”
Every September has all the ingredients for a great year: School, swimming, socializing. But if those are the ingredients, “attitude” is the seasoning that makes it come together. Attitude dictates everything. If you think about school as an obligation, chances are that you won’t enjoy it. If you think that morning practice is a dreadful obligation, you’ll despise it. And when we despise a task, we often spend much of our time sulking about it instead of maximizing our efforts. But if you think about these tasks as “opportunities” — opportunities to learn, opportunities to swim in a pool for sport, opportunities to become better as a person — over time, your attitude will shift. Tasks will become a little easier, a little more fun, a little more rewarding.
So, this September, if you’re like me and dreaming about time machines making our multi-schedules easier to manage, try a few of these strategies. They won’t stop time, but they may help that schedule become more balanced and more fun — and help you get everything done.