On time

This post is part of my 200 words per day challenge that I am sharing publicly on Twitter in order to improve my writing and develop a writing routine. Feel free to join and comment.

The only grandma I ever knew died when I was 11.

Being confronted to the reality of death changes you. It made me aware of how finite our time on earth is, and how you have to cherish it.

Your time is limited, it is only self-respect to be careful about it. I regularly come back to Seneca’s On the shortness of life to remind myself of this fact.

Since then, I am obsessed with time. I try to stick to the mantra “impatient with impactful actions, yet patient with results”, to roughly quote Naval Ravikant.

At 18, I tried to switch to an Uberman sleep pattern (sleeping 4 hours a day). Never managed to balance it with my life as a student. Then I tried the “Siesta” sleeping schedule (sleeping 6 hours per night and enjoying a 20-minute nap at lunch). It worked much better, but life went on and I didn’t keep at it either. I tried micro-managing my time by dividing it into half-hours. I tried integrating pomodoro techniques to get the most of my working hours. I tried bulk-cooking to save more time. I applied the Pareto’s principle and priorisation frameworks whenever I could in my studies and jobs.

Now I tend to believe I am pretty good at time management. But I also discovered that time really is relative: no matter how much time you save, if you don’t make a correct use of it, your time saving strategies will end up useless.

What really matter is how focused you are on the task at hand. In Buddhist terms, if you are living in the moment. The deeper you go, the more you can compress time and make the most value out of it. As Seneca puts it: “it is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it”. This is the mistake I got to learn over the past year: it doesn’t matter how much time you spend in total, what matters is how you use it.

Nowadays I am working on freeing myself from schedules and on learning more about my own circadian cycle. I set out chaos routines to enter a creative flow that will help me fullfil my objectives and ultimate goal in life: the mastery of my craft.

A life well spent is a life lived with duty and purpose.

On the other hand, I have to learn to be generous with my time. Many people practice busyness, the contrary of productivity. Busyness is filling out time. Productivity is working toward something meaningful. Spending time with my family and friends is productive. Partying or having a cold one with the boys is productive in a sense. Spending a few minutes sipping tea is an opportunity to empty the mind.

That is how my grand-mother taught me not to waste my time, but I have much to learn yet.


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