October 24th Is Take Back Your Time Day!
There are many ways to celebrate Take Back Your Time Day -- from organizing an event on your campus, at your local library, in your union hall or with your faith or community group, to hosting a brown bag lunch at work, simply taking a long lunch, or gathering for an evening meal with family or friends. Consider incorporating the LET'S GET BACK TO THE TABLE THEME. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about what you might want to do (or not do):
TAKE BACK YOUR TIME DAY 2006 THEME:
LET'S GET BACK TO THE TABLE!
People need to be reminded of why we want to take back our time and the focus this year is about how we are neglecting relationships -- not taking enough time for family, friends, community, and civic engagement. We're expressing that theme by reminding people about the joys of gathering around the table -- from the dining room table to the card table to the picnic table.
Consider planning a Take Back Your Time activity that involves people gathering around the table. A local group might have a potluck or a game night or just encourage their members to plan social events. Others might decide to take the table outside and stage a little street theater. Please let us know what you're planning and we'll post it on the web site. Below is something you could send out to people or post in the library or pass out to coworkers.
But remember, you are free to celebrate Take Back Your Time Day in any way you wish!
LET'S GET BACK TO THE TABLE!
Nobody's at the table anymore.
The family dinner table stands empty. Time for family meals has been decimated as parents work long hours and kids scurry to activities intended to beef up their college applications. Of course, since family meals are a high predictor of school success for children, eating family dinners around the kitchen table might be a better investment of their time!
Think about it. Who has informal chats at the kitchen table? How often do we use our dining room tables for company or our coffee tables for gatherings with neighbors? "Having people over" has been reduced by nearly half in the last forty years. Instead, we're eating fast foods alone in our cars, bringing a crisis in health and obesity and loneliness.
Why are we concerned? Because happiness has been on the decline and depression on the rise as we race through life trying to get ahead. Happiness research shows that after you've met your basic needs more money doesn't make you happier. What's important is your relationships with other people. Strong, caring bonds are the primary ingredient for well being, and you only get these by spending time with others. (Often, around the table.)
And we've lost a lot of the fun times that involve gathering around the table. Card tables don't even come out of the closet. The old fashioned pastime of playing cards has practically disappeared. Picnic tables stand neglected. As we forsake these traditional pastimes, we have fewer people to enjoy ourselves with. Studies have shown that the number of intimate friends has continued to plummet, making us more isolated and lonely. And lonely people are less happy and healthy. Curiously, we're also more in debt -- in part because countries without community shop more! We're not enjoying ourselves much these days.
Finally, who's gathered around the discussion table hashing over the ideas and events of the day? Conversation about public matters seems like a thing of the past as membership in civic groups declines. Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, notes that the culture in which people talk with each other is the culture in which people vote. John Dewey said that democracy begins in conversation. Text messaging is not conversation!
So what? We're all busy! Isn't this good for the economy? People are out there working hard and being productive! But they're not. They may be working long hours, but productivity begins to dip as work hours lengthen. Chronically stressed workers make more mistakes, are less motivated, and don't get along as well with coworkers. European workers (where they have 4-6 weeks vacation against our two weeks) are often more productive because they limit their work hours and take time off.
From the homespun ideal of "kitchen table wisdom" to the church ideal of "table fellowship," gathering around the table has a long tradition. Coming together with others brings us feelings of security, belonging, and self respect. We feel more cared for and we become more caring. And maybe we even have more wisdom.
So take back your time by coming back to the table -- the kitchen table, the card table, or the picnic table. Eat with your family. Have neighbors over for a pot luck. Have friends over for Scrabble. Go to your local cafe and a start a conversation. Be a part of this growing movement to rekindle conversation, community, and conviviality by gathering round the table and taking time to talk!
All over the country on Take Back Your Time day -- October 24th -- people will be coming back to the table. Start planning now and write and tell us what you plan to do. Share your ideas with others and you not only inspire us, but yourself as well.
Check out these Let's Get Back To the Table themed discussion questions developed for Take Back Your Time by Vicki Robin, founder of Conversation Café.
If you want to improve the quality of your table conversations about time, consider using the Conversation Cafe method described at. It's a simple way to use your time for a lively and meaningful conversation about topics like:
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