One of the biggest misconceptions in modern “productivity culture” is about time.
Take a look around and you’ll see hundreds of articles about how to manage time, track time, use time, measure time, how to get more of it, or how we can’t get more of it.
The problem is that unless we define what time is, how do we do anything with it at all?
Many of these concepts around time tend to be rooted in a belief that time is linear.
If time were linear, all hours would be the same and all minutes would be the same.
This appears to be true because they are comprised of parts that have equal measurements.
A clock is divided into 12 sections, or hours. Each hour is divided into 60 minutes. Each minute is divided into 60 seconds. We go through this cycle twice per 24-hour day.
In this framework, one can measure time, and therefore manage it.
A brief diversion here to note that “clock time” is a fairly recent human invention that only came about since the industrial Revolution.
True “time” is cyclical and not as clearly delineated. The seasons blend into each other: we don’t have a bright line of where summer ends and autumn begins, for example.
But let’s stick with clock time for the moment, and assume it’s a real thing.
A logical, rational person might argue that each minute is the same because each minute is comprised of 60 seconds.
That may be true if you’re just looking at a clock. In theory every minute is the same measurement.
But that’s not how we experience time in practice.
And life is lived in practice, not theory.
Here’s an experiment you can do to test this:
Find 2 different audio tracks. One of music you enjoy. The other of a sound you might find jarring or disturbing, like a jackhammer.
Play each for a minute.
Notice how you experience each of those minutes.
I’ve run this with many people in my courses and workshops. If you’re like them, it’s likely you’ll find that one minute feels longer and one feels shorter.
Same measurement of time, but very different experience.
Time is not experienced equally, even when measured equally.
The language of time reflects that time is not equal.
Our language reflects our experience.
We use expressions like “time flies” or “time drags” to convey that the same unit of time measurement is not always equal.
Consider for yourself:
- what makes time fly?
- what makes time drag?
If you want more time, it’s crucial to consider what kind of time you want more of.