We spend years saying “time is money”
Then spend years being told we don’t have enough money
No wonder we feel we don’t have enough time
No wonder we spend years
This is a collection of musings, practices, and mental models about time.
In the year 2020, the term “knowledge worker” has risen to become a part of our modern lexicon. Referring to someone who makes a living by working with information, data, and intellectual challenges—as opposed to manual labor—knowledge workers are critical for flourishing in the information age.
However, as knowledge workers, we face a relatively new set of challenges than those of our ancestors before us.
While our bodies used to tire after a full day’s work, it is now our minds that are exhausted, overloaded, and in need of recovery. We won’t bore you with stats about the modern workplace, but if you check in on any news source you’ll see articles and research about burnout, overwhelm, loneliness, stress, disengagement, information overload, and the changing paradigms of work.
With all the progress we’ve made over the decades since knowledge work rose to prominence, we have yet to solve the challenges and frustrations associated with work of this type.
In Silicon Valley and around the world we continue to invent tools—software, apps, courses, and products—in effort to improve the way we do our work, but very rarely does anyone address the foundational elements of our relationship with work. We build bleeding-edge communications infrastructure and project management systems yet fail to address some of the most important aspects of what it means to be a knowledge worker, and therefore, a human.
Specifically, we don’t address our relationship with time.
The 40-hour workweek was brought into existence in 1914—yes, over 100 years ago—by Henry Ford, who believed that too many hours were bad for workers’ productivity.
Since the 1960s, the consensus among anthropologists, historians, and sociologists has been that early hunter-gatherer societies enjoyed more leisure time than is permitted by capitalist and agrarian societies.1
Think about that for a moment.
Your ancestors, who spent their lives hunting and gathering their food instead of having groceries delivered from the market to the door, enjoyed more leisure time than you.
How does that make you feel?
For me, it makes me think about my priority. Which, by the way, used to be a singular word “priority” and not the overly-burdensome “priorities” we so frequently use today. But that’s for another time.
With so many bits and bytes flying back and forth from screen to screen, service to service, person to person, it’s easy to see why leading publications say we’re experiencing epidemics of the burnout and loneliness varieties.
We struggle to spend our time wisely—with intention and focus—and thus we frequently feel chaotic, out of control, and disconnected from the present moment that’s right in front of us, primed for our enjoyment. We so easily give away our time to others—manipulative advertisers and tech moguls, selfish coworkers and brain-pickers, archaic social and capitalist pressures—that we’re left with very little time to ourselves; time to tend to what we deem most important in our lives.
So here we are, thinking existentially about our relationships with time and what it means to be a human being in the 21st century.
In an effort to explore concepts like purpose, meaning, time, balance, and existence, we started discussing our thoughts, writing them down, and gathering them into a collection.
Our intention is to guide you to think about how your relationship with time impacts everything in your life from how you approach your work to what you really care about to the choices you make day in and day out. After all, the only thing we truly control in this world are the choices we make.
The fact is, your understanding of time—installed in you by the society you’ve been brought up in—is a core component of the human operating system that has not been updated for as long as you’ve been alive. Which is unfortunate, because how you spend your time is how you spend your life.
“Working Time.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Accessed 16 Jun. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_time. ↩