As a coach and facilitator, I see a crucial part of my role as making time for people. Time for them to think, to ask and answer questions, to have a conversation. In coaching my client, I am creating a space in which they can reflect – a space in time, carved out from all the busy-ness of life. I make the time for their coaching, and by committing to the coaching relationship, my client makes time and space for themselves. This is ‘time out’, precious time, protected time, spacious time; time for a different kind of conversation.
It is similar when I’m facilitating a group of people using a methodology like Action Learning, or in a more open process of facilitating, for example, a team away day.
In Action Learning, my role as facilitator is to model the process of Action Learning – asking clarifying and open questions in the service of the presenter (the speaker) – while holding the space for the Action Learning set participants to listen well, and ask questions that support reflection for the presenter. In an ideal world, an Action Learning set meeting will take place over a day, requiring participants to commit to time out of the routine and giving time to peer learning. It is important that the set meeting starts and end on time, and that the session gives time for a number of participants to present. The set meeting will take place in a room with only chairs and no table, to add to the sense of spaciousness and to keep focused on the questioning process – rather than ‘business as usual’.
In facilitating an away day, I will take time to design the day so there is a clear, but flexible agenda that meets the need of the client, but also allows for issues arising on the day to be addressed in the here and now, and given space. As I grow more experienced in facilitation, I learn to put less into the day, to allow each activity more time, and to give more space to what emerges from the day’s discussion and reflection.
Managing time is one of the great challenges of the modern world. If we are not careful, our time at work gets taken up by meetings and emails, by all the unplanned and immediate demands, rather than the planned and important. At home, we can find ourselves feeling pressed for time, busy running a household, caring for others, juggling multiple responsibilities and struggling to find time for the activities we want to do – seeing our friends, gardening, reading, keeping fit, or resting.
As we age, also, there seems to be less and less time, with a sense of time running away with us. We find ourselves wondering when we last saw our friend, last celebrated an achievement, last stood on sand looking out at the sea. We can find that another season has passed, another year, another decade.
What can help us manage our time better, to feel that we have the time we need? What can we do to make time for the important thoughts, feelings and relationships that make life feel worthwhile?
Here are a few suggestions from my experience:
- Practicing mindfulness, even in the smallest way – making time to make a cup of tea or coffee, focusing on the process, and then savouring the taste and experience of the drink
- Keeping a reflective learning log or journal – to write down experiences, thoughts and concerns, in work or outside of work; to note ideas for projects; to record inspirational quotations – and then reading it, from time to time
- Action Learning – joining an Action Learning set and learning to listen and ask questions, and through this process learn while supporting peers
- Coaching – committing to work with a coach, engaging in a supportive and challenging conversation, over time, focused on developing the self