Andy Cope: Countdown



When was the last time you or your work colleagues skipped into work? And we mean, literally… as in bouncing in full of energy and passion. Because, you see, there is a massive difference between turning up at to work because you have to and turning up because you want to. Indeed, the latter is like depositing £1m into your psychological account.

But how, when ‘change’ is sitting squarely on your chest and, term after term, you’re being asked to do more for less? We’re not pretending that modern-day teaching is anything other than a full-on immersive and exhausting experience.

Most time management tips and tricks come from a definition of time that the Greeks call ‘chronos’ – that’s the tick-tock Countdown version of time. Therefore, most tips fall into the ‘work smarter’ not harder category. Go on, cram more in! They are useful, but not motivational.

We’d like to come at ‘time management’ from a different angle. 

The Greeks also have a concept of time called ‘kairos’, as in ‘the time is right’ or ‘this is your moment’. We get excited about kairos for all sorts of reasons that we can’t cover in a 400 word blog. So we’ll pick two biggies.

Firstly, teachers are infected with what we call ‘destination addiction’ - that is, counting down to half-term and accidentally wishing your life away. The limited nature of ‘tick-tock’ time means you only have 4000 weeks (average lifespan) so none of us has enough weeks to be trying to get them over with. So our first time management tip is to change your aim. Instead of ‘getting through the week’ why not instil a higher aim of ‘enjoying the week’ or, even better, ‘inspiring people’? It’s a simple change of mindset and you’ll find it’s a much better use of your time.

Which brings us neatly onto kairos-time. Without getting too deep, your life is lived in moments. All you ever have is NOW. We don’t want to make your head hurt but everything in your past has gone, and can only ever be experienced through the lens of now. As for your dreams of the future, same, you can only ever experience them from this moment. This raises so many mindfulness questions, not least of which is ‘how many ‘nows’ have passed you by while you’ve been busy placing your happiness in a different time zone?’

Beach Time


But Kairos is especially important for educators. We cannot think of any other profession where the time is more right for you to be inspired. Carpe Diem (‘seize the day’) is half right. We think you’re better off seizing the moment. 

Not next lesson, or tomorrow, or next term. Chronos and Kairos point to right now.

Andy Cope
Andy Cope is the author of the famous Spy Dog books, a trainer and keynote speaker. He is an expert in positive psychology and happiness, which led him to develop The Art of Being Brilliant. This is delivered in various forms as workshops for businesses, conferences, teachers and teenagers. It has also informed the thinking behind his brilliant books.