The quality in quality time
Proponents and supporters of “quality time” argue that quality makes up for quantity with regard to spending time with family or friends. They reason that it is okay to “sacrifice” away some time because it will be recovered fuller through higher quality, i.e. in “quality time”. But when people get off work to spend “quality time” with family or friends, how much “quality” are they actually putting into and getting out of their “quality time”?
Any seasoned manager will have many work-honed skills that are cross-utilised in private life to enhance the quality of his/her personal time. For example, being proactive in planning is a natural extension into private life that often enhances the quality of personal time. Another example, being optimistic and looking at life as “half-full glass” instead of “half-empty glass”.
And one does not rise up to the top without at least some skill to juggle tasks simultaneously. And quite a few actually have the propensity to do so out of personality. “Multitasking” is one skill that can often have positive effects but, if carried too far, can have undesired effects in personal affairs.
One of the most difficult things for a busy manager, especially in exciting times (be it good or bad), is to achieve a state of mind that devoids of thoughts related to work — when NOT at work. In other words, physically present but the mind is elsewhere, i.e. multitasking with work-related thoughts. The mind is still in “the office” so to speak. You are not 100% “present”.
Even when not thinking about work, the multitasking habit may manifest itself in the form of thinking about the future (or the past). A leader, like a chess player, naturally thinks steps ahead while making the move on the current step.
“Technically I lived in the present, but my eyes were forever focused on a more elusive, seemingly more important spot in time.” Eugene O'Kelly #quotes
Quality time demands focus and active participation. It requires the participants to be fully present – body and mind. This may come naturally for some, but for others it may necessitate re-training of work-hardened habits and re-commitment to the private life. The fundamentals are there. Similar to dedicating 100% of self at work, we need to dedicate 100% of ourselves to our private lives – especially during quality time.
Being present is the key that unlocks the quality in quality time.