Our brains are terrible at measuring time.
Coffee blooms for 30 seconds. I don’t guess this. I measure it. A good cup of coffee is important to me.
This is why timepieces are a critical part of the normal person’s day. We measure what’s important to us.
It wasn’t always this way. Ancient people used the sun, moon, and stars to determine days and years. But the technological granularity of knowing the difference between 6 hours, 20 minutes, and 30 seconds was non-existent.
There were water clocks, sand clocks, and candle clocks. Finally mechanical clocks. Ways to measure hours, minutes, and seconds. But that was only about 700-ish years ago.
A tool or a competitor?
The implications of measuring time the way we commonly measure time today are profound. We have the capability of knowing precisely how long it takes to do anything. From brushing your teeth to building a bridge.
In the modern era, these tools have also caused the consternation of entering an un-winnable race. Time is the ever-running, never-stopping competition.
In the end, time always wins. But we compete anyway. The entire productivity industry promises that we can at least compete, if not win this race.
Because time and death are co-conspirators.
So it’s better to think of time as a way to measure what’s important. If using your limited time well is important, do an occasional time audit to see where your finite number of minutes and hours are going.
Positively, see how much time you are spending doing the most important things. The things that bring you the most value and joy.
- Time with the most important people in your life
- Your life’s work
- The things you love and are passionate about
Negatively, measure how much time is spent doing low-value, low-impact activities.
- Social Media
- Mindless frittering on the Internet
- YouTube, Netflix, World of Warcraft, and other distractions
The best way I’ve found to do this is to do an occasional 24-hour time audit. Log your time in 15-minute increments for 24 hours.
It’s a little tedious for a day, but it’s also incredibly revealing.
I guarantee that you’re sleeping less and frittering more than you think you are.
The only way to know for sure is to measure.
Then stop the un-winnable competition with time, and be intentional with our common, limited asset to actually accomplish something great and beautiful in this life.