Reflections of an Outdoor Teacher
Work/life balance is a challenge our staff face continually, having turned their passions into their profession. These are Jonny’s reflections on the value of time, keeping an eye on that balance and what perhaps are the important questions to answer. Jonny is a Tutor at Bewerley Park.
I was aiming to write something regarding the value of time and delve into what people do with their time and why. Although I’m writing this from an Outdoor Teachers perspective I believe it is relevant to any profession.
The irony of writing this blog is that I have spent far too much time writing and re-writing it; and uncovered many more talking points than I expected! I have boiled these down to what I would hope you may find useful to consider and reflect on, just as I have:
- What are the main things that you give value too on a day to day, weekly, lifetime basis?
- How do you spread your time across these values?
- Do the values and the time you give them change over time? And if so why? Is that ok?
My key values
There are many individual things that I value which I can summarise into 5 categories. The importance of these is hard to quantify but the quality of the time I give to each of these is something I have begun to understand more.
Life balance is such an important concept yet the ability to dedicate the “right amount” of time and attention to each of my values is often conflicted by so many factors. Work flexibility, family dependencies, location of friends, access to space, lifestyle foundations… so much life, so little time!
Friendships is a classic from my experience; an aspect I never find enough time for. Friends I spent 3 years at University with have had only a few conversations in the last 14. The lack of contact is only because of the practicalities of life getting in the way. The opportunities to meet up seems rarer and rarer and its shows how valued those relationships were considering I still think about them so many years later.
In the early days as an aspiring Outdoor Teacher I needed to spend a large proportion of my personal time outside of work doing the activities I lead; essential for gaining the experience necessary to teach. I needed to spend my own time learning my craft and the hard skills that the job demands, this usually on weekends and week nights. Over 4 years of adventuring it became clear that those 5 values were not being met at an appropriate level. I would spend months focused on my job, having adventures and enjoying the outdoors, yet contacting friends and family reduced significantly.
Assessing the balance
In an effort to assess the ‘health’ of my work-life balance I spent some time recording where my time goes. Here is my current “typical day” chart; seeing my time commitments in this chart form was a shock!
Sleep 8hrs, Career 9hrs, Lifestyle/Health 1.5hrs, Friendships ½ hr, Family ½ hr and Time to Myself 4.5hrs.
The shock was the lack of time I solely gave to Friends, Family and Lifestyle/Health. The value of this reflection is in the questions it raises and the perspective it brings.
I regard myself as fortunate that I have a career whereby I have an active job and I have good personal relationships with my colleagues; allowing me to balance some short comings within my daily job.
Family, of course, is a different matter. The difference between a quick phone message and face to face interacting is massive for a number of reasons. Face to face conversations allows for relationships to become meaningful; more honest. Giving someone your time carries more weight and value than a quick message.
That is a concept that can cover of areas of daily life. Emails don’t offer opportunity to witness social cues, body language and natural responses. I have been guilty of sending messages that appear quite blunt. so I am developing my emoji game to compensate in the short term!
Starting my outdoor career, I gave more time to work and lifestyle and less time to my family, old friendships and probably no time to myself. The importance of your own time creates the opportunity to process thoughts, turn off from work and gives you time do something for you. That could be sitting quietly, exercising, read a book, listen to music, watch some TV or gaming – anything that solely involves you and no one else. The ability to fully switch off is difficult so actively creating time to do this is important
For everyone situations are different, responsibilities and commitments vary. I hope this article, whether you work in the Outdoor industry or not, helps you considering your use of time. I will end this with some questions, a couple of my thoughts and hopefully something for you to think about…if you have time.
- What do you feel are the key values in your life?
- Compare how many hours would you like to dedicate to them against the reality?
- What drives those decisions?
- If one value takes over more time what can you do to compensate this imbalance over the days, weeks or years?
- Time to yourself is often not given a priority. Be happy in your own company doing your own thing from time to time.
- Quality is important so give everything 100%. Give 100% during the work hours to allow you to spend time not thinking about work when you are not working. Give family and friends 100% of your attention when you are with them. Enjoy your lifestyle and own time choices regardless of how different they are to others.