Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reporting for Time Boot Camp

It's 8 a.m.  Do you know where your time is?

Seriously.  We humans made the whole thing up (Ever see a Weimaraner with a wrist watch? One not tricked out by William Wegman?), yet at least some of us can't seem to keep track of the darned stuff.  

I've been thinking about this since coming across Jason Fitzpatrick's recent LifeHacker article entitled How to Hone the Accuracy of Your Internal Clock and Better Understand Your Time.  (I was intrigued to note the url for this piece, which in my experience betrays an earlier working title.  In this case, Mr. Fitzpatrick apparently entertained the idea of calling his post "Become a Time Ninja to Stave Off Procrastination and Increase Productivity.")

Fitzpatrick summarizes an approach recommended in Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It NOW by psychologists Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen--a classic I have not yet found time to study.  He highlights their "concrete exercises to improve and insights into our time management shortcomings."

Just why are some of us plagued by such difficulties?  Fitzpatrick, channeling Burka and Yuen, itemizes these possible contributors to our "diminish[ed] ability to accurately judge the passage of time":
  • an overambitious nature
  • lack of practice
  • chronic stress
  • age
  • dopamine levels
  • outright wishful thinking

In my own case, as I sit here trying to push out this blog post, so I can: 
  • jump in the shower
  • throw on enough clean and not too hideous clothing to survive the single digit temperatures and weather a few hours in the office and several more in the company of a three-year-old, and 
  • pick up the coworker I promised a ride to at the new pushed-back time just over a half-hour from now, 
I see that all of the above are probably at work.

Thus, I am heartened to learn that there is a fix for my time swirl, a proactive strategy Fitzpatrick refers to as "time-boot camp [sic]."

I won't cannibalize Fitzpatrick's synopsis here, but direct similarly challenged readers to read it for themselves. 

I'm going to start with the first step.
[s]tart measuring how long things actually take. If, for example, you have it set in your mind that your commute takes 20 minutes but in reality it takes 35 with the morning traffic, then you'll need to adjust your morning routine accordingly. The same thing with your morning shower; if your quick 10-minute shower is actually a groggy 25-minute wake-up session, you'll know where those precious extra 15 minutes vanish too every morning. 
I predict that I'm going to find that everything takes much longer than I believe it will take, and than I leave time for.

I now have 20 minutes for the three things I itemized above.   Could there be a slight problem with that?

No comments:

Post a Comment