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24 Aug 2019
25Aug 2019

On-Your-Mark, Get-Set, WORK!

The Race. I’m not talking about our lovely weekend 5k park runs, JP Morgan’s 5.6k run or indeed London’s Annual Triathlon. Nope, I’m talking about the race against time. Time has become a precious commodity. Forget about saving money, nowadays everyone is on fast-forward and we are happy to pay lots of money to bank more time. “What’s the rush?” I ask myself as I double, then triple check my pockets for life’s three essential items; Mobile phones Check. Keys Check. Wallet Check.

I’m not late leaving the house this morning but my autopilot switch has been triggered and notice my pace picking up significantly as I join my fellow “work-walkers” on the commute to work. The race has already started and I find myself compelled to join in or fear of being left behind. As we power-walk down the path trying to avoid various obstacles such as, pot-holes, bus stops, road works, the station gets closer. I’ve managed to pass quite a few “Walkers” however; we’re unluckily caught by the corner traffic lights. Damn it! My sentiment is felt as the other “Walkers” drearily catch up. They check their watches; one clever fellow takes out his Blackberry. Perhaps he’ll have just enough time to enter in his password and glance over one email before the magic Green Man welcomes us safely across the road.

As more people engage, we bear resemblance to a horse race starting line-up; manoeuvring the best spot at the edge of the path. We eye up the entrance to the station just meters away. There seems to be three types of competitors.

  1. Those who are wearing suits with gym runners. “how comfortable”. My clunky shoes are no match for Nike’s bounce.
  2. Those who are even more prepared wearing a full gym kit; their work clothes on hangers.
  3. And finally, a new breed that technology has created. The “Mobile-Walkers”. These experts can walk, some run while reading and typing on their mobiles phones. Remarkable!

The pressure mounts. Not thinking of the risks I nudge myself across the road but rapidly back track as a group of cyclists scream “WATCH IT” and steam up the bus lane shaking their heads in disgust. Finally, we’re clear, the race resumes. I try not lose my stride as I pass through the pay-gates. Catching a glimpse of the station’s camera informs me that a train is just approaching. With only the escalators ahead of me, “I can make this!”, I say to myself. I’m moving pretty fast but suddenly hear footsteps behind me. It couldn’t be; three “walkers” have caught up, one of them a "mobile-walker" and have their eye on the same train. We race down the moving metal staircase. We are now sprinting. The unfortunate people trying to get off the tube are facing a herd of three “work-enthusiasts” thundering towards them. Although still winter, sweat trickles down my face.  I slip by the closing tube doors and hop onto the train. The doors narrowly miss jamming on one of my arms. Success!

My shirt is now slightly damp and my forehead begins to pour with sweat. I smile, proud of my accomplishment this morning. The tube conductor comes on “Good morning ladies and gentleman, apologies for the delay but unfortunately we will be held here for 3 minutes while we regulate the service …” Ironically I don’t know why I rushed to make that tube or any tube for that matter. I wasn’t late; in fact I was going to arrive before most of my colleagues. Not sure I gained more minutes in my day by making that tube.  I believe we have normalised “the Rush” and demand things “get done quicker”. Rush to the station, rush down the stairs, RUSH TO WORK, rush to that meeting, rush to the gym, “sprint” versus “jog”, rush around the food store, “ready-made” versus “fresh meals”, rush home.

I applaud the people that manage to dis-engage from this race and take their time for small things in their already busy days. So, I’m pressing pause for a moment and deciding to make three changes:

I am going to make a conscious effort to wake up 10 minutes earlier. As easy as it sounds, I love sleep. However, by doing this it will give me the time I need to exclude myself from the “Race” to work! Who knows I might actually enjoy the earlier start!

I’m turning off my auto-pilot. I’m going to appreciate my morning walk and breathe in the fresh air. We work long and hard days. My mornings are my personal time and it shouldn’t be sabotaged by thoughts of work-life stress.

This leads nicely into my final point. I’m not going to check my smart phone while walking. I will not turn into a “mobile walker”. Emails and social media can wait 10 minutes for the train or, even better, the office if I’m feeling particularly nice to myself.  

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Date: 29/03/2019