Welcome to 2023! How will you be spending your time? How do you even think about that question, and what even is time, anyway? As we begin a new year, time is what’s on my mind. How can I better understand, use, and master my time? Well, some of what I write here will attempt to offer answers, but sometimes I want to simply pose and explore the questions regarding a topic. The hope is this process may help me and you all think about these things more clearly and act more effectively going forward. What blows my mind is that we can share this idea-space about time, even as we consider it at different times. Yet, should we approach the notion appropriately, who’s to say we aren’t together, here and now, just in a different way than used to be possible before.
The basic idea here today is that time can be considered a universal unit of change, THE essential component to describing any motion or process. However, there is an issue there that this idea is just that, an idea rather than an existential element, and thus very hard to separate objectively from the observer. Of course, this is all very difficult to understand, and that is my only point today: even the most basic element of our lives is devilishly difficult to understand if you really try to get to the bottom. It can be done, and some of the insights that can be drawn from it are powerful. Here are the two I wish to highlight today:
- Time as we usually use it is an artifact of society and culture based on a basic dimension of our existence.
- Time is inseparable space and action, making any abstraction about time which does not lead to improved action or organization in some way an almost blasphemous waste.
These ideas lead to a few natural conclusions. I hope these are obvious from these insights, but I want everyone to share in these ideas, regardless of ability to arrive at them on their own. First, our inventions regarding time management are some of the most powerful ever devised and deserve some respect. However, they are still just that – inventions – and thus are not sacred the way time itself is. In other words the game is the score. What happens is closer to what is than merely when it happens or how many times it happens, if you will.
I have always struggled with managing time. Most of my efforts have felt like a strain and I consider it a personal strength of character that I recognize strain as unsustainable and stop it whenever possible. That only means that I have yet to find the right way for me to manage my time. I am likely neurodivergent and it should surprise no one upon hearing that that perhaps I have been trying to imitate the wrong systems for my lifestyle and personality. In particular, I yearn to live in such a way that I can stop to smell the proverbial roses without worry of what I might be sacrificing to do so.
What this leaves me with is a broad-stroke approach to start. In my life there really just three categories of time spent: routine activity, cultivation, and production. Routine activities are just that, those activities that have good reason behind doing them often and with minimal change between repetitions. Cultivation is activity that takes time and attention, but suffers from quantification. Gardening, relationships, and education are a few examples of what I think of as cultivation activities. I love them and want to make time for them, but making the time in the schedule is really just the inverse of sparing that time from over-thinking and analysis as I pursue those activities. I intend to manage that time to make it more timeless. Production is where a certain lack of detail in terms of time works the other way. Results or measurable progress and effort are the point here and time within the block of time for it is just as important during the process as it is in finding and making the time to even consider it