We need to find more Protected Time in our lives

Watches that beep

The fact that I don’t want to own an Apple Watch was verified this weekend by the countless beeps, boings and pings from my adult kids’ Watches as they received various notifications from the outside world and from each other (?).

“You’ve got mail.”

“You’ve had a message.”

“You’ve got an incoming call.”

“You have a comment.”

“You have a heart beat.”

“You’ve been liked, tagged, poked,” and goodness knows what else.

I can absolutely understand why this could work in a professional environment.

Jon Barrow’s dog-walking business “Happy Wags” celebrated it’s first birthday over the weekend (doing exceptionally well) and he simply could not organise his schedule whilst tramping the fields and pathways of Cheshire, were it not for his Watch.

We Boomers thought that Generations X, Y & Z were going to be different from us as the internet arrived – little can prepare us for how Generation Alpha (those born since 2010) are going to evolve – there are already signs of a severe reduction in interpersonal skills.

I’m nowhere near a Luddite and embrace innovation in every aspect of my life…….but.

Whilst I marvel at technology, I also observe that these younger (than me) generations have very little of a precious commodity:

Protected Time

I cannot function without Protected Time.

Its why I get up early mid-week to write this blog and to enjoy a morning run without interruption or earbuds.

It’s why I book appointments with myself to get certain projects completed – and remove myself from “notifications” during that allocated time.

It’s why I believe that a ringing smartphone doesn’t have to be answered.

It’s why I love trains and wireless headphones whilst I’m working or resting.

Protected Time is when we work ON our professional and personal lives and not when we work IN them (to quote Gerber).

Protected Time is when we have our best ideas, create our best futures, reflect and ponder.


On Saturday morning I joined Josh and Rachel Barrow for a 10k around Rydal Water and, en route, we visited Dove Cottage, Rydal Mount and Wordsworth’s grave.

Now there was a man who knew about Protected Time.

The Fisherman

There, as we concluded our run, a solitary fisherman on Rydal Water, saying it all.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed- and gazed- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.



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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.