The importance of recess time

In Finland (a country lauded for its excellent school system) kids in primary school are given breaks every hour. After 45 minutes of instruction, students ‘take 15′ and run around, socialize, or just do anything but sit still in a classroom.

Tim Walker, an American teacher in Helskini, tried to do away with these frequent breaks for his 5th grade class and was met with foot dragging, rebellion and mind wandering. So he reinstated the breaks. And whatdoyouknow? The children became happier and more focused:

“Once I incorporated these short recesses into our timetable, I no longer saw feet-dragging, zombie-like kids in my classroom. Throughout the school year, my Finnish students would—without fail—enter the classroom with a bounce in their steps after a 15-minute break. And most importantly, they were more focused during lessons,” Walker wrote in a post on his blog, Taught by Finland.

What’s more, researchers have consistently found that physical activity helps the brain function better and learn more readily. Charles Basch of Columbia’s Teachers College wrote in his report, Healthier Students are Better Learners, “current knowledge strongly indicates that physical activity can benefit aspects of cognition, thereby favorably affecting educational outcomes. Recent literature reviews on physical activity or physical fitness and cognition have all reached the same conclusion: physical activity (or aspects of physical fitness) favorably affects cognitive functioning.”

Wouldn’t it have been nice (and enlightened) if the Common Core State Standards had incorporated not just new Math and Science learning protocols, but new standards for daily breaks and exercise at school? In Finland, students take breaks every hour not just because teachers think this is a good idea, but because it’s the law.

 

 

Depression alters the body clock

One of the first questions doctors ask patients who appear depressed is, ‘How’s your sleep?’ That’s because insomnia and/or excessive slumber are tell tale signs of major depressive disorder.

A new study, “Circadian patterns of gene expression in the human brain and disruption in major depressive disorder,” explains why this is so. The study found that the brains of people suffering from major depression are out of sync with normal circadian rhythms. How did they figure this out? Researchers analyzed donated brain tissue from depressed and non-depressed people and found that in the normal brains, the internal clocks ran on time. In the brains of severely depressed patients, however, the circadian clock was so disrupted that day often became night and vice versa.

Why? “We can only glimpse the possibility that the disruption seen in depression may have more than one cause. We need to learn more about whether something in the nature of the clock itself is affected, because if you could fix the clock you might be able to help people get better,” Huda Akil, one of the authors of the study, told Science Daily.

Doctors often prescribe medication or light therapy to help depressed patients get their clocks back to a normal cycle. This is wise medicine. Feeling sad and exhausted is double trouble.

Seniors spend more time volunteering

Encouraging news. The spirit of giving is growing among older folks. Senior volunteering hit a ten-year , increasing from 25.1 percent of all seniors in 2002, to 31.2 percent in 2011, according to a study by the Corporation for National and Community service.

Volunteer time is time well spent. Studies find that doing charitable work has a positive effect on one’s physical as well as mental health. Not to mention all the good it does for the beneficiaries of the charity.

 

 

To compare, is to despair…

Let’s say you’re having a rough day. You walk through the park, the mall, or etc and see happy couples, happy families, and carefree singles enjoying themselves. You might think, “why is everyone happy but me?” Change your thinking and you could improve your mood.

A fascinating series of studies, “Misery Has More Company Than People Think,” found that people tend to think they are more alone in their emotional difficulties than they really are. People also tend to think others have more positive emotions than they really do. These miscalculations make people feel lousy. The researchers found that “lower estimations of the prevalence of negative emotional experiences predicted greater loneliness and rumination and lower life satisfaction” in their subjects. Whoa! So if you walk around thinking everyone else is hunkydory and feeling fine, you’re likely to feel isolated and blue.

The brilliant Nobel prize winner Marie Curie wrote: “Life is not easy for any of us.” AND HOW. And continued, “But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

 

The Book of Times…has arrived in stores!

The Book of Times was released on February 5 and has been excerpted, reviewed or noted in Vanity Fair, Real Simple, Parade, People, Forbes.com, The New York Post, Time.com, MentalFloss, The Iron Mountain Daily News, American Profile, The Columbian, and Yahoo!!

Forbes.com: “Alderman’s greatest achievement is the continual delivery of quirky knowledge that our collective curiosities crave.”

Time.com: “This clever and entertaining compendium contains everything you’d want to know about the ticking away of seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, decades and centuries.”

People: “Fascinated by how we spend—and waste—our most precious commodity, journalist Lesley Alderman gathered the sometimes-surprising stats for her debut, The Book of Times…”

MentalFloss: “…a fascinating foray into familiar terrain and a revealing look at how we really spend our lives.”

Yahoo!: “A new book confirms what most of us already suspect—timing is everything. In The Book of Times, which was published in early February, Lesley Alderman, a health and finance reporter, compiled data from hundreds of studies to offer insight into how we spend our time.”

New York Post: “Brooklyn journalist Lesley Alderman collects hundreds of surprising surveys from around the world revealing how we spend our hours.”

Parade Pick: “It takes 31 minutes to walk off a brownie. Shocked? Relieved? That’s the kind of quirky knowledge Lesley Alderman serves up in The Book of Times, a compendium of surprising measurements of everything from love affairs to mental functions. How much of our waking time do we spend daydreaming? Nearly half. How long does it take to have sex, on average? A brisk 19.2 minutes.”

The Columbian:Read this book and you’ll find out how time impacts … areas of life such as love, work, money, and family.

American Profile: “This handy-dandy little volume encourages us to consider [time] hundreds of fascinating ways, with charts, statistics, quirky tidbits, intriguing trivia and nuggets of research that reveal just how, exactly, we use the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years of our lives—and how we can economize, prioritize and even put some lost minutes back on the clock. Burrowing down into the many interesting factoids of this infinitely browse-able tome, no matter how long you stay at it, makes for time well spent.

Iron Mountain Daily News: “The Book of Times is informative and entertaining and a marvelous way to while away the time on a business commute or a lazy afternoon.”

The Next Big Thing: Blog Tour

“The Next Big Thing: Blog Tour” has landed here. Thank you Lela Nargi for tagging me. Here are my answers to the NBT’s 10 Questions:

1. What is the title of your book?

The Book of Times: From Seconds to Centuries, A Compendium of Measures

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

My obsession with time! I’ve always been interested in the time it takes to do all sorts of things. But the book morphed from my own obsessions (time spent on work, pet care, laundry, and etc.) to broader themes (art, war, homework, media). The book covers a wide range of timings: from how long it took to create great works of art to the time Americans spend watching TV, shopping and hugging!

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I’d like to say physics (which is how Amazon categorizes it), but it’s more like high-minded trivia.

4. What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in the movie?

Hah! My book is a collection of facts, and has no characters. But… if the book was to be narrated I would like Tommy Lee Jones to do the voice over!

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The Book of Times is an endlessly fascinating survey of time. Packed with compelling charts, lists and quizzes, as well as new and intriguing research, the book examines a wide swath of life—love, art, work, education—through the unerring meter of the clock.

6. Who published your book?

WilliamMorrow

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

A long time! The book was a gigantic research project. It took nearly a year to compile all the data and then write it up in a fun, readable format. Then there were many revisions….

8. What other books would you compare this to within your genre?

Schott’s Original Miscellany. Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00: More of the Best Times to Buy This, Do That and Go There by Mark Di Vincenzo.

9. Who or what Inspired you to write this book?

The idea came in a flash. The title and concept popped into my head one morning and then I was off and running. But years of reporting on finance and science probably laid the ground work.

10. What else about this book might pique a reader’s interest?

The book is much more than a collection of facts. It puts the era we live in into perspective. From prison sentences to homework hours to work life imbalance — the book looks at how our society uses time to punish, to elevate, and to keep the GDP running.

Thanks for reading my 10 Questions. Now, I’m tagging Sherri Rifkin, who wrote the wonderful beach read, LoveHampton.  People magazine wrote: “Appealing heroine, heartsick and unemployed, rediscovers herself in a Hamptons share house…fun.”

Rifkin is also working on a second novel about the weather!

 

 

 

 

 

Too busy to volunteer?

Who isn’t, BUT giving time might make you feel as though you have more time.

A new study found that those who spend time on others feel more flush with time than those who hoard all their hours for themselves. Giving time leads to a feeling of “time affluence.” The authors of the study (Giving Time Gives You Time) explain: “The impact of giving time on feelings of time affluence is driven by a boosted sense of self-efficacy. Giving time makes people more willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.”

What do you think?

How many hours do you spend sitting?

The average American spends about 8 hours sitting: working, reading, typing, computing, driving and etc. That’s a lot of time spent on the derriere and it’s not healthy. Even if you exercise everyday, hours of sitting can cut years off your life. A recent article published in BMJ Open reported that sitting for more than 3 hours a day can shave two years off your life. Watching TV for more than 2 hours a day (the typical American watches more than 3), can pare another 1.4 years.

It makes sense. We were not designed to be sedentary. So as you read these sentences, stand up. Next time the phone rings, pace while you talk. Consider a standing desk and arranging walking meetings. You’ll add time to your life and you’ll probably feel a lot peppier too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hate Meetings?

I do. (Unless they are promised to be no more than 30 minutes, or delicious snacks will be served.)

So does Dave Barry who wrote, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’”

If you regularly schedule meetings, consider these efficiency strategies from Get More Done Time Study Consulting. (If you are a schedulee rather than a scheduler, share the Get More Done link with your boss.)

*Write an agenda and distribute it before the get together. The agenda should list the purpose of the meeting and the items to be discussed; the list of items should be specific and focused. Include a hard stop, too. End times can bring a needed sense of urgency to all involved.

*Start meetings on the half hour.  Research indicates that meetings are more likely to start on time when they are scheduled on the half hour, rather than on the hour.

*Schedule meetings in afternoon. Time studies show that meetings are shorter later in the day. As quitting time approaches, business tends to become more efficient.