4000 Weeks, cont. 1
Dishwashers and other modern conveniences.
It was believed that when vacuums, dishwashers, and microwaves became household items that they would magically help make chores simpler and end up saving time. The problem was -and still is- that we can’t “save” time. Instead of being able to bank it and put it away for a rainy day, instead it has to be used now. So what happened when these devices entered the home? Now suddenly there’s more time to do more chores or the standards rise so that the house needs to be cleaner, or meals can be hotter and faster but to no avail on helping to “save” time.
What inevitably ends up happening is after we fill the jar with big rocks and then smaller rocks is that more and more sand creeps in. (I’m hoping you caught the reference to the story about the professor who fills the jar with rocks, pebbles, and sand while asking the students “is it full?”) If we save two minutes here or three minutes here, what happens to that time? Those precious few minutes are not banked away. If they’re not immediately scooped up by some small nagging issues then they’re lost to the wind and never found again.
Saving time is a mis-conception. We shouldn’t be looking for “time savers” but instead should be focusing our attention on eliminating whole chunks to things that become our time drains. I know that most people love their TV but at the end are we really fretting about that TV show we never got to watch? Would we really be wishing we had spent more time on YouTube or searching Instagram for that perfect video that would have given our life meaning? Those are just a few examples but there’s more if you dig deeper. (I’m not meaning to sound like I’m demonizing social media, but it’s an easy target mostly in part because it’s one thing I’m gravely guilty of.)
One of my favorite quotes is, “Perfection isn’t achieved when there’s no more to add but when there’s no more to be taken away.” That’s time. Trying to shave a few seconds off this or that won’t cure us of our ache for more free time. Using Waze to find that shortest route isn’t going to make or break our time-bank. It’s only going to get us to our destination with just enough time spared to return a few texts and a couple of pesky emails before we update our location on Facebook and dissolve into the couch.
Don’t look to do more. Find ways of doing less. That’s only when you’ll really start to find the time because that’s when you’ll actually start to do the important things.