Productivity: Your Relationship with Time

Seema R.
Seema R.
Apr 2, 2018 · 3 min read

Imagine your best day ever. Was it filled with events? Were you walking the streets of some foreign locale? Were your holed up on the couch with a good book? Was it carefully scheduled? Was time a single, apparently unbroken expanse?

Time is basically human construct. Certainly, day and night were naturally occurring. There was a time before humans marked time in seconds. As with all social constructs, the socialized self can hardly imagine being without the idea of the minute. What was it like not to be able to mark how late you are for a meeting? (Of course, pre-minutes there were likely many fewer meetings.) Indicating that something is a social construct does not make it any less valid as an element of our lived experience. Rather, this is to point out that if your natural sense of time seems out of sync with your clock and your calendar, its okay. You are just human, and they existed before clocks and calendar.

The questions at the beginning are meant to help you gauge your relationship with time. For some, people flow occurs when they have time to ramp up into an enjoyable experience. Others need to feel this kind of engagement in short sprints. Focusing on your best days can help you understand your most positive moments of making time, and you coalesce.

Productivity is basically the act of getting down what you feel/ must complete in the time you have chosen to allocate. If you look at your relationship with time, you might find that you are expecting to complete something in a way that is not natural to you. For example, you might be allocating too much time, and therefore you have given yourself time to stay off task. Or, more commonly, you are allocating too little time.

Another way to understand your relationship with time is to time yourself on a task. For example, I started timing myself when writing these short posts. Then, I gave myself less time. I set a timer for 30 minutes. I noticed that I wrote the same number of words and felt more productive than when I had given myself an hour. All of a sudden, my mindset about the same activity had changed. This is because I framed the time in my most productive way.

Now, I am a fast person. I feel happier when moving quickly (talking, walking, reading…). The best way for you to start syncing your process with your time sensibility is to start with those questions. Once you are done, make some assessments about yourself as rationally as you can. Are you slow or fast? Do you need to ramp up to flow or are you a cannonball flow sort of person? Then look at a task that you need to do often. If you are a fast person, set yourself slightly less time. After you accomplish the task, reflect on how you feel. If you are a slow person, give yourself slightly more time. The key here is to use a timer. As I mentioned above, time is constructed, and people feel them differently. Using a timer allows you to examine this problem rationally. Keep doing this experiment until you complete the task feeling like you accomplished your best result at a productive interval. Now you know exactly how much time to allocate to feel good about the productive work you’re doing.

Seema R.

Written by

Seema R.

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