Weather Forecast


Home for the summer: Timeout

From Jan Kent

“Timeout” is a feature of most sports the world over, kidnapped by most parents the world over.

“Go to your room and take a timeout. I’ll tell you when you can come back and join the rest of us.” (Well, OK, maybe it’s not stated quite so calmly.) “You sit right there in that chair, young man, until I tell you it’s time to get out.”

A recent lecture I attended got me to thinking about how we handle our time. The topic was sleep. Humans, said the speaker, are designed to be awake roughly 16 hours and asleep roughly 8 in a 24-hour cycle. This lines up more or less with the hours of daylight and darkness. (Unless, of course, you live in some place like Iceland, or possibly in northern Minnesota.)

So there we have it — about 16 hours when we’re awake and listening to the radio or watching TV or checking our email or tweeting or twittering or whatever. Northern Minnesota folks are probably amazingly immune to this (as I am), but I’m betting there are many in the Gopher State, even on the North Shore, who suffer from Too Much Information.

Timeout! Let’s reclaim this really good idea from toddlers everywhere. Timeout — no looking at any electronic devices. Timeout — turn off the radio and the TV and the cell phone. Timeout — plan it into your 16 waking hours and stick to it.

I’m not advocating this as an appropriate activity for world leaders, but I can see it working for me. If I have no idea what’s happening on the planet between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the course of history will not be changed. But I will be. Maybe I’ll know more about that bird in my tree, the tree itself, the color of the sky. I’ll catch up with all the rest of the world stuff in a little while. (Or not.)

As I talk with family or friends, we can discuss all sorts of topics and raise all sorts of questions. We can muse. (Love that word, muse.) If we don’t uncover the answers to those questions, or get the latest (although not always the most accurate) news on the topic in hand from an iPhone or iPad or an iWhatever, that’s OK. We can think some more or look it up in an actual book or forget about it altogether. I think we’re being bombarded with too much information.

Too Much Information — let’s take a break from it. Timeout — let’s get the toddlers and sports teams to share it with us and make it a part of our 16-hour stretch every day.