Winging It - The Art of Doing Things Well

Winging It – The Art of Doing Things Well

When I taught English as a foreign language I was horrified at the start of my first year when one of the teachers I worked with taught his students the phrase ‘winging it’ in the context of him ‘winging’ his lesson with them as he hadn’t prepared. When I first started teaching I would never had done that, how could I wing it when I had a class full of students looking at me expecting a planned lesson?

However towards the end of the teaching year I found myself there. I was the one winging it. I’d done countless marking and written evaluations that week — and other such excuses for these situations — and there I was, stood in front of my class with a chunk of lesson time remaining. I looked at them, I glanced at our lesson topics and then… then my lesson really did fly. Instead of stalling or resorting to just chatting with my students I taught a revision segment on comparative adjectives which was still going strong when the bell rang.

It felt different from my usual teaching, I felt like I was in control of the lesson, pushing it forwards with the answers at my fingertips as I watched my students engage and enjoy themselves. I could see what I was doing in that moment, where I was steering things, I knew my stuff, I was confident, I wasn’t winging it I was flying.

Since then, and I think before then I’d just never named it before, I’ve often found myself in a similar groove. As I work or play with my kids or talk about subjects that I feel passionate about or enjoy time with my family and friends there are moments when I’m no longer consciously thinking my way through what I’m doing I’m just getting on and doing it. It’s like I’m on some kind of conscious auto-pilot where what I know is making everything move along smoothly and I’ve no need to pause and collect my thoughts.

The more I ponder this feeling the more I don’t think this is a coincidence. As we learn new skills like teaching or parenting, as we become more informed on subjects that we are passionate about or begin to perfect work skills we seem to earn the right to have things run like clockwork. Often it can feel like every thing we do is an uphill climb, more challenging that what’s gone before and forever testing us as we push forward to achieve more success in a chosen field. We rarely take the time to appreciate that with every newly acquired skill another one that we’ve been honing for a while is suddenly there at our fingertips for daily use.

So now I would say that I do ‘wing it’ quite a lot. The more that you strive to learn the more you earn the feeling that you are flying through the things you do know very well indeed.

Reducing My Screen Time - The Lightbulb Moment.

Reducing My Screen Time  —  The Lightbulb Moment

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my use of social media. On a quest to reduce my screen time I was reminded of the words of a wise friend of mine. She said that since she’d had kids her social interaction had gone down but her social media use had soared.

‘I used to spend all my time with my friends, now I just spend all that time on Facebook.’

I think it’s a common problem whether or not you have kids. Screen time can creep into your life and quickly get out of control. Now that we have smartphones that can do so much, there is a temptation, and actually sometimes a benefit, to using them for a range of tasks. If you aren’t desk-based all day then a smartphone is an easy way to achieve a range of things away from your laptop. I tried to think about all the things I do on my phone: email, social media, checking the weather, directions, web browsing, managing ebay and PayPal, managing my bank account. It really left me wondering if I could reduce my screen time at all.

I found myself spending a toxic amount of time on social media, mostly Facebook and Twitter. I use the word toxic because it actually felt that way. I’d go onto a channel to have a quick look at something, and would still be sat there 20 minutes later, scrolling through newsfeeds telling me things I had little interest in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of social media. I work in social media. Getting lost in the warren of Twitter, where I start reading about one thing and end up finding 5 new people to follow, is great but that just wasn’t my daily reality anymore.

Then I read this article on Medium giving a teen’s view of life online. A few things mentioned really rang true for me. I’ve long felt uncomfortable about the amount of advertising on Facebook with sponsored links etc. and to hear someone else say that they keep mainly to the groups for that sole reason made me think — yes! I liked the insights into identity online, I really get Tumblr a lot more since reading this article and find more and more joy there with every visit.

It gave me a starting point and I was soon thinking about other aspects of social media and how I use it. And, of course, I signed up to Medium. I found this by someone who had left social media behind and felt the benefits. One thing that stood out was the phrase ‘does this bring you joy?’ — if it doesn’t then get rid of it.

Suddenly I had a lightbulb moment and since then my social media habit has been pretty much cured. By asking myself every time I try and check a feed or an article whether I really want to do this, I’ve pretty much reduced my social media time to a fraction of what it was. And I do now just check Facebook to see what happened in groups that I’m a member of! Like Helena Price I find myself checking my phone, clicking on an app and then just switching it off again. It’s like a habit I can’t quite break until I’ve clicked and then remembered — oh yes, no joy here.

Whilst this has reduced my screen time overall I am also using the time on other bits of the screen. I think before I read articles. When I started thinking about screen time, I just regarded all screen time as equal — equally good or bad — without really questioning it. Now I’ve realised there’s toxic screen time, where I’m just looking at a random social media feed for no clear reason, and screen time that I’m really starting to enjoy.

I’ve come back to the idea of quality in what I read, in seeking out trusted sources of interesting and informative articles to read and enjoy in a quiet moment. I’ve gone back to podcasts I used to enjoy and discovered new ones.

And I’ve never had so many ideas for blogs and posts as I’ve had since this started. It’s like the part of my brain that always came up with these things went quiet, dulled with the constant chit chat of mindless social media but now I can’t keep up. In an attempt to really limit my screen time I’ve taken to scribbling down my thoughts on a notepad. I’ve filled pages in the last week, who knows when I’ll get to put it all down online somewhere. By trying to limit my own screen time I wonder if I will actually (hopefully) be increasing someone else’s as my writing continues to improve.