Dali, The Persistence of Memory I‘ve written before that two of the resources that are scarcest in our society are time and attention. We parse our time so narrowly, and spend so much time in urgent and administrative work that is, in the larger scheme of things, unimportant, that there is not enough time left for what is important, the things that require blocks of uninterrupted time and focus.
Personal time management tools like Getting Things Done (GTD) can help, but they require us to filter and intermediate all the demands on our time, so that we end up spending almost as much time deciding what to do (and what not to do) as we spend actually doing things.
There are many calendaring systems available as well, but these don’t interface well with all the other decisions we face on what to do and not do. Your work calendar and scheduling system (MS Outlook etc.) doesn’t integrate with your personal calendar (e.g. Google calendar), or your GTD activities list, and none of these help you cope with all the just-in-time decisions (phone calls, drop-ins, things that break down etc.) that eat up so much of the day. It’s just a constant juggling act, and it’s no surprise we never seem to have enough time, and never seem to get caught up, even on the things we ‘have’ to do.
I’ve recently taken a leap of faith and opened up my work calendar to many of the people who work with me. That means instead of me deciding whether to accept a meeting with them, I just let them put meetings in my calendar. So far it’s worked well.
Could it work with our personal calendars as well? Could we just open them up to people we get value from spending time with, in love, conversation and community, and just let those people book our time, so all we have to do is ‘show up’?
I’m intrigued about how time gets consumed in Second Life, which has no calendaring system. You can send invitations to people for meetings and other events, either well in advance, or just-in-time. The advance invitations work much as they do in ‘real life’ — you put them in your ‘real’ calendar so you don’t forget them. The just-in-time invitations (e.g. for meditation sessions) go out to all the members who have subscribed to a group, usually just a few minutes before the event. The decision whether or not to attend tends to be spontaneous — because it’s so easy to ‘teleport’ to the event (and the teleport ‘landmark’ is sent to you with the invitation) you tend to go if and only if (a) you aren’t already doing something else you think important in Second Life, and (b) you feel like doing it. No RSVP needed one way or the other. You can even get these invitations sent ‘outworld’ to your e-mail address, so you can ‘join’ the event in Second Life as easily as clicking a URL.
If you’re not doing anything else (and even if you are), you’re likely to get IMs (instant chat messages) from people you have accepted as ‘friends’ in Second Life, since by befriending them you give them the ability to see whether you are ‘inworld’ or not, and to see when you come into and leave Second Life. Those instant messages usually start with small talk (“hi, how are you, what’s new, what are you up to?” and often end up in one of the messengers teleporting the other to where they are, so that the conversation can continue “face to face”. Second Life is an intensely social place, and these impromptu get-togethers are the virtual equivalent of phoning up and inviting over a friend or neighbour.
Today I went to a presentation of an “event management” software. The tool was very thorough and well-thought out, but it only handled physical ‘events’ at external sites, not internal or virtual meetings/events. It worked through e-mail but was not integrated with common work calendaring and scheduling software like Outlook. And it didn’t allow for just-in-time IM invitations, or for RSS subscription to ‘categories’ of event invitations. One more set of invitations and appointments to juggle with all of the others.
So it seems to me that what we need to do is block out our time into periods allocated to different groups of people (co-workers, friends, lovers, family, and time alone) instead of into activities. So the ‘ideal’ allocation of time I wrote about recently (9 hours for sleep/hygiene, 2 for exercise, 3 for play, 3 for meaningful conversation, 2 for reflection, 2 for creation, and 3 for action) needs to be re-mapped, day by day, into time allotted for solo activity (perhaps the 9 hours for sleep/hygiene and some portion of the 2 hours exercise and 2 hours reflection time, say 12 hours a day in total), and time for each group or community of people that one gets value from spending time with (the other 12 hours a day). And then, by ‘publishing’ that available time, like a professor posting ‘office hours’ on her door, we could allow those people to take the responsibility for filling up must or most of those 12 hours, so we would just have to ‘show up’ for these ‘events’.
For example, I might block out 3 specific hours a day on weekdays (perhaps more on weekends) for conversations and activities with my Second Life community, 6 on weekdays (and none on weekends) for specific communities of work colleagues, and 3 on weekdays (and more on weekends) for specific communities in ‘First Life’ (family, friends) and online friends (IM and blogging community). Those blocks would be specifically allotted to these communities and filled, by them, on a first-come, first-served basis. Then I’d need to map those, over time, against the categories (play, meaningful conversation, reflection, creation, action) of activities I intend this time to be spent in, and if necessary ‘tweak’ the allotments to different communities to bring them into balance with my ideal balance of different productive activities.
I know, this sounds very arrogant — allotting my time out to specific groups of people as if it were some precious and priceless resource. But isn’t it precious and priceless? Do we not, in one way or another, do this now — just not very effectively or systematically. And by letting others ‘sign us up’ for specific activities in these allotted time slots, activities they care about, couldn’t we both save a lot of time scheduling our own lives, and make ourselves more available to people who care about us, who need us, whocould benefit from our ideas, knowledge, insights, and loving company?
Maybe this is wildly idealistic, but there must be some way to make the most of our time, without using up all our time trying to figure out what to do with it. What do you think?
Category: Getting Things Done
Other Writers About CollapseAlbert Bates (US)
Andrew Nikiforuk (CA)
Carolyn Baker (US)*
Catherine Ingram (US)
Chris Hedges (US)
Dahr Jamail (US)
David Petraitis (US)
David Wallace-Wells (US)
Dean Spillane-Walker (US)*
Derrick Jensen (US)
Doing It Ourselves (AU)
Dougald & Paul (UK)*
Gail Tverberg (US)
Guy McPherson (US)
Jan Wyllie (UK)
Janaia & Robin (US)*
Jem Bendell (US)
Jonathan Franzen (US)
Kari McGregor (AU)
Keith Farnish (UK)
NTHE Love (UK)
Paul Chefurka (CA)
Paul Heft (US)*
Post Carbon Inst. (US)
Richard Heinberg (US)
Robert Jensen (US)
Roy Scranton (US)
Sam Mitchell (US)
Sam Rose (US)*
Tim Bennett (US)
Tim Garrett (US)
Umair Haque (US)
William Rees (CA)
Archive by Category
My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
Worse, Still (Poem)
A Conversation (Short Story)
Farewell to Albion (Poem)
My Other Sites
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.