From the Fort Collins Coloradoan

October 24, 2006
Page: D6, D5

Time Out


Betsy Hedberg is hosting a tea party of sorts today in her front yard.

The Golden resident will invite neighbors and passersby to take a few minutes out of their day to sit down, drink a cup of tea and have a chat.

It's an effort to raise awareness about Take Back Your Time Day. Started four years ago, Take Back Your Time is an initiative designed to do something about overwork, over-scheduling and time-famine in North America and their effects on health, families, relationships, community and environment.

"I was brought up to be a workaholic," said Hedberg, 38, an educational writer and teacher who works at home. "We always feel that we need to be doing, not just being. It becomes really hard to relax."

This year's theme for Take Back Your Time Day is spending more time around the table - the dinner table, the picnic table and the card table. The theme emphasizes that Americans are not taking enough time for relationships - family, friends, community and civic engagement.

Setting up a table in her front yard so that people can stop by, drink tea and talk is Hedberg's way of encouraging people to take time to cultivate relationships.

"It's about relationships and the fundamentals of sitting with someone and listening and having a conversation. A lot of people feel like they are too busy to do that these days," Edberg said. "I wanted it to be very local and personal. I think people will curious. ... I'm going to just tell them why I'm out there."

Take Back Your Time seeks to give people tools to organize their lives so they have more quiet time and time with family and friends. It also aims to create a dialogue about policy issues such as paid vacation in the workplace, said spokeswoman Bonnie Michaels, a work/life balance expert in Chicago.

"There are so many things that are affecting our lack of time," Michaels said. "It's trying to organize life so you can allow for 15 minutes of quiet time a day.

"I think it's about changing attitudes, changing work habits."

Hedberg started by examining how she spent her time.

"I've looked at what my priorities are," she said. "What really makes me happy and what's extra?

"This is not about a bunch of people who are wealthy enough or radical enough to have extra time. We are trying to find ways to live more balanced and sane lives."

Tips for taking back your time

·Schedule family meals each week and make a commitment to share them.

·Cut out one activity from your child's schedule.

·Schedule family meals each week and make a commitment to share them.

·Keep track of your expenses on such "time savers" as fast food, convenience items, etc., and calculate how much work time it takes you to buy them.

·Cut TV viewing to one hour per day or eliminate the TV for a week.

·Cut out junk mail-find out how at:

Take Back Your Time,

Getting family back to the dinner table

·Plan meals in advance.

·Have everyone in the family submit meal suggestions.

·Assign family members jobs, preparing different parts of the meal:table setting, salad prep, main course and dessert.

·Try to avoid struggle and conflict over clean up by having clear expectations and a schedule for dishes.

·Turn off all cell phones, televisions, MP3 players, computers and PDAs during dinner to avoid interruptions.

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