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Time is our most valuable asset, it’s what we trade in the workplace and give away freely and sometimes carelessly to the people around us. It’s what we often wish we had more of, in spite of the fact our account balance is set, limited and decreasing by the second.

It's important to use your time wisely, but don't get bogged down by planning every second.
It’s important to use your time wisely, but don’t get bogged down by planning every second.

Recently I went on holiday after a particularly hectic few months. The trip had been booked for a while and was essentially two weeks on a desert island. 

2 weeks, 14 days, 336 hours, 20,160 minutes, 1,209,600 seconds.  None of the time was planned, none of it filled. The island was several miles from anywhere and surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Peace and tranquillity was inescapable.

It was the first time in quite a while that I actually had time to think and imade me realise how much I usually fill my time,I always have. I like to be busy, – without a project I get listless, cranky, but at what cost? I have been a ‘do-er for as long as I can recall, admittedly with varying degrees of success. Even while working a full time job I would be looking for other projects, things to keep my mind busy.

In the last year or so though, since I became happier in my home life, I found that I was more reluctant to being on the go all the time, I found a greater appreciation for my down time, being able to relax with TJ, my friends and my family. This may have something to do with the fact it’s now over nine years, (in fact it’s closer to a full decade) since I was diagnosed and I’m getting to a point in life where down time means a lot to me!

My job, like anyone else who works full time, naturally takes up a good proportion of my waking hours, it has been busy lately with several projects coming together at once, but to be honest it’s been outside of my career where things have really been stretching me out. Those additional projects and voluntary roles where I was pouring in effort and energy for very little return. The net result was that I was tired all the time, more than usually grumpy and unable to find much spare time to be with the people I loved. It led to an unintentional writing hiatus (something for which I must apologise profusely, – I have missed you all).

It was Tuesday evening when I came to a realisation. I had an appointment booked in for 6.30 which, at half 5, was cancelled, I suddenly had a clear evening and I knew just what do with it. Within the hour I was at my parents house having a cuppa before heading out for dinner and a drink with Sam.

It was brilliant, we talked for hours and I didn’t get home until almost midnight, but I felt so much better. I had made the most of the time I had. It was this realisation that made me think about what mattered to me. I decided, there and then, to cut down on my extra-curricular commitments.

I had been involved with a local counselling charity, serving on the board of trustees. I was elected to the post on the grounds that I would drag the organisation into a modern age, refresh the materials and increase our income through fundraising. 

I had met with nothing but resistance and, at times, open hostility from the rest of the board, who looked at me as a young upstart who knew nothing about charitable business, fundraising or counselling. This, in spite of the fact I have my counselling qualifications, spent several years working at management level within the charitable sector, and have, to date been responsible for raising nearly a million pounds for various charities.

Why was I giving up my time to feel worthless and devalued?  When I couldn’t give myself a good enough reason, the decision was made, – it had to go.

So now I have time, time to think, time to write, time to plan what I want to do next.

I was disappointed that, this year, I wasn’t more involved in HIV testing week, particularly given the additional focus on it following on from Charlie Sheen’s recent announcement that he was living with HIVTo watch my fellow writers and activists travelling the country to spread the word on HIV, had a strange effect on me. I felt as though I was missing out.

I realised that, in the last few years, as my understanding of my HIV has developed, I have relished every opportunity to be active in supporting other people who are newly diagnosed and to challenge stigma and misinformation. I watched people I care about dashing around the country, meeting people, spreading the word and making me proud to know them.

As it was, this year the week coincided with a busy period for me during which I wouldn’t have been able to do a great deal, but rest assured, with my new found time, – I have been busy planning for next year…

2016 will be the year I turn 30, it will also, for me, mark a decade of living with HIV. 

It is a year I will remember and one that I am determined to make count.

It’s my life after all, and if I’m spending time, I want it to be on the things I enjoy.

Steve (@SteveoftheMarch on twitter)

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