How I spend my time- 12/5/16

Friends ask how I spend my time now that I’m retired. Or they hear that I’m running a non-profit as a volunteer, and ask how much time I spend on it.

My standard answer is between fifteen and twenty hours a week on PBDD. But the objective reality varies from that. At times, it feels like a full-time job where I’m always on call, answering emails late in the evening, or sometimes waking up in the middle of the night to get some thoughts down on paper. Like the week when I drove an hour to get to a meeting on one day, took a train to downtown Chicago the next for another meeting, sending emails on the train ride home as I tried to keep all the balls in the air. At other times, it feels like I’m playing at running a non-profit, spending my days walking in local forest preserves, checking occasionally for emails which need a response, and thinking about a range of topics, only some of which relate directly to PBDD.

The joy of not fretting about paid employment and of being in charge is that I can spend exactly as much time as I want. When I’m in the flow, or when there are items on the critical path for a goal, I am as focused as I ever was as a full-time employee. If there’s something on my list that I am resistant to spending time on, I ask myself why I’m resistant. If the reason I’m reluctant is because it is pushing me out of my comfort zone, but was something I agreed was worthwhile, I buckle down and do it. But if I have doubts about whether it’s something I should be spending my time on, because I don’t see a benefit, I have the liberty to revisit it. After all, it’s not like I’m going to get fired.

I’ve seen the same scene play out within our board. We maintain an ongoing list of action items, adding new ones as we identify new goals, and using it as a tool to nag ourselves about making progress. Sometimes, one of our board members (invariably the one assigned the action item) asks, “Do we still need to do this? I know we thought it was a good idea at the time, but do we still think so?” And sometimes we shake our collective heads and wag our collective fingers and say, “Just do it.” Other times, we acknowledge that things have changed, or that we have learned new lessons, or perhaps that our ambition had exceeded our grasp a little too aggressively, and we concur that the item can be closed.

My goal is to spend as much time as I want, balancing the almost endless list of things I can do which will help address issues of digital inclusion facing society today and to strengthen PBDD as a participant in that battle with the other aspects of life in which I find fulfillment- family, friends, taking care of myself. And I am grateful that I’m in a position to decide where I’m focusing my attention. It is a precious liberty, and I try to exercise it with intention, and to spend my time wisely.


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