Sometimes we are asked to spend a professional development day learning new information in order to build capacity in the classroom. Even when the topic is fascinating and the presenter entertaining and personable, it’s hard to sustain focused attention for six or seven hours.
Today I “hit the wall” around 1:30 pm. It was that after-lunch lull that made my eyelids heavy and my brain slow, no matter how hard I tried to focus. I had some tricks up my sleeve–a bite of chocolate left over from lunch, some discreet stretching, a little bit of doodling on my paper. Nothing was working. I tried to stay engaged with the task at hand, but it was complicated and I was lost in the sequence of steps. It was at that moment that I made the mistake of glancing at my watch.
Nothing makes time go slower than looking at my watch and realizing I have at least two hours of listening left. It is as if there is a snail inside it, pushing the minute hand around the face as slowly as possible, leaving a trail of slime around the numbers. In fact, it almost seems like the snail is pushing the minute hand in the opposite direction sometimes! I have to trick myself into NOT checking my watch for the rest of the session after that, or I will check it every five minutes and lose focus again! So I had to play a little game with myself…
- I’m not allowed to look at my watch until three more agenda items are completed.
- I’m not allowed to look at my watch until someone else takes a piece of chocolate from the pile on the table.
- I’m not allowed to look at my watch until someone walks past the doorway and peeks in to see what we are doing.
- I’m not allowed to look at my watch until someone drops something on the floor.
Hopefully all this “not looking at my watch” distracts me enough so that I can refocus and forget about the time altogether! Fortunately today I got through my after-lunch lull and got myself back on track. Tomorrow my watch will be back to normal, with the minute hand sweeping right along, as if a jackrabbit is pushing it swiftly around the face.. No more watch-snails, please!