A week ago, in three ‘random’ occasions, Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule came up – either from blog posts I’d read or in conversation. Since then, it has been gnawing at my attention to closely look at his schedule. One of the things I’ve mentioned in this blog is the amazing way in which we are all given the same measure of time – 24 hours, not a minute more and not a minute less. If you get less, it is because your time is up. But until then, the cycle continues. As we pursue this journey, there is a lot that we can learn from different people about how they manage and use their time. In fact I want to argue that one of the most valuable lessons that we can get from a higher education is not so much the knowledge that we gain as it is the lesson to manage our time in the wake of competing priorities.
I can honestly say that I have applied the theory I learned in my Political Science classes once or at the most, twice since graduation. I have never had a job where I was directly asked to describe the three waves of the feminist movement and how they have affected progress to date. I have however been asked to do various things at the same time and on numerous job interviews, I have been faced with the question ‘how do you handle multiple competing priorities’ or how do you manage your time, how good are you at multitasking or focussing on the activity at hand.
It would seem that managing our time or learning how to manage our time for maximum productivity ought to be a greater preoccupation than just attaining static knowledge that is likely to change in the next few years. And in the age that we are currently living in, change occurs faster than we can keep up. What was ‘in’ and ‘acceptable’ theory and knowledge in first year will likely have been contested and disputed by the time we are graduating.
All this to say that one of the most valuable lessons I am finding learning how to value and maximise on our time, especially in the context of constant would-be distractions such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube not to mention the internet as a whole. I wonder what Benjamin Franklin’s schedule would look like if he had the internet and I wonder if he would schedule in a specific time to log on, read his emails, check on his tweeps, read Facebook status updates and watch some videos on YouTube. Would that be an early morning activity, or a late afternoon activity? Would he also ask himself “How much time will I spend online today” and at the end of the day reflect by asking “How much time did I spend online today and what good came of it?”. Of course we will never know the answers to these questions but they are nonetheless valuable questions for us to pose to ourselves as we continually reflect on how to better manage our time and make the most out of our 24 hours. I can safely say that I probably need to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. My dad had this old adage “Early to bed and early to rise makes someone healthy and wealthy and wise”, apparently Benjamin Franklin also said this often.
I think it’s time to hold on to that once more.
Are you an early riser or a night owl? What’s your schedule like?