Free time is the enemy of progress. Because free time. Sitting around. Is not doing.

Ben O'Donnell
Oct 6, 2015 · 4 min read

“It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.”

Seneca

Over the past five years or so I’ve followed Casey Neistat’s work, feeling incredibly inspired and motivated by each production, film or product he produces. If you don’t know, Casey Neistat is an American film director, producer, designer, creator of popular YouTube videos since 2010 and entrepreneur. Based in New York he is also the co-founder of social media company Beme as of 2015.

From one of his short films produced a couple of months ago, entitled, ‘Fat and Lazy’ Casey spent the short seven minute film explaining his ethos and some of his thinking behind his own personal, ‘Time management and productivity.’ Producing a personal video diary or ‘Vlog’ of his crazy and incredibly badass life each and every day, whether its traveling the world, or behind the scenes at his new Startup in New York, Casey often takes a day out in the week to go into more of the thinking behind his ideas, views, and overall decisions in life. With a quite unusual take and ‘cut the bull shit’ style, its no wonder he’s amassed over 1.2 million followers in such a short amount of time.

Casey states in ‘Fat and Lazy,’ “Right now it’s go time for me. I want to maximise every waking second. I’m never going to get younger and right now I’m completely healthy, full of energy, and who knows how long that’ll last. I wanna do it now!… The only time I get bummed out or depressed, is when I’m not being productive. When I’m not accomplishing, doing or contributing in any way.”

Casey then goes on to visually show through a makeshift graph an hourly update of what ‘an average day would look like.’ It’s obvious to anyone who watches the video, that he is a complete workaholic. He strives to work, clearly organising his day into 6 distinctive sections organised by colour. White means free time, Black is sleep, Red work, Yellow exercise, Blue family time and Purple fun. As shown below, the style of representing the large amount of information is very bootleg, and makeshift like, quite a contrast to the topic type. But for some reason to me and I’m pretty sure to others, it really works. At a glance I can see, understand and know what the visuals are telling me.

Personally, a disaster when it comes to time management, and knowing myself to be a very visual thinker. This style intrigued me. So beginning as of Saturday, I set myself the challenge to carrying out this process at the end of each day to visualise my time more clearly. Fitting around much of what my group ‘The Fantastic Four” is looking into, including the work of Abby Covert. I feel this experiment has a lot of scope and relevance, and is as much an exercise for the group project, as it is to my own curiosity and personal exploration.

Although this is only my third day experimenting with this process, I have already noticed I am far more aware of what I am doing, how I am doing it, and how much time is being spent on it. In a way I feel a sense of competitiveness with myself. At the back of my mind, possibly unintentionally I try to complete activities quicker with less breaks or procrastination. So the exercise is doing something for me! I can honestly say that I feel more productive, and in away feel I have more control of my time, when it is laid out visually before me in this manner. But, ‘I always had control over my day.’ Potentially a major factor of what I was missing before was the ability to see how much, and what my time looked like. With your day laid before you in hours, you can really visualise how much time or how little time was spent on certain aspects of your life. I can honestly say some aspects shocked me, and are most certainly things that I now plan to work on in a time management sense.

I plan to carry this experiment on for the rest of the week, and hopefully gain even more insights. I will finish with another quote from Casey Neistat. A quote which I feel puts into prospective ‘Time’ as a whole, and covers ideals I wish to personally incorporate more into my life.

“Time is the most precious resource. It’s the most valuable thing I have, and that’s why I’m so protective of my time. Life is substantiated by whatever impact or whatever contribution you can make while your alive. The finish line is the same for everyone, we’re all ending up in the same place, but while we’re here, what contribution can you make.

So why wouldn’t I want to maximise my time as efficiently as possible. To be as effective as I can with it…

Free time is the enemy of progress. Because free time, sitting around. Is not doing.”

Ben O'Donnell

Written by

Final Year Product Design Student, currently studying at The Glasgow School of Art.

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