Many often point out how it feels like time is either flying by or slowing to a crawl. Time doesn’t actually move faster or slower in this time, it often just feels like it. Because of these feelings though, we’re often left in scenarios where you sit around waiting for the time to pass or looking at the time and seeing you’ve somehow spent three hours on a paper. Time is precious and we all only get so much of it, so utilizing time in a way such as this is a waste. Time needs to be managed so it can be used to its maximum potential.
Time management and maximizing the time you have has always been difficult throughout history. Having to account for things such as how long something will need to cook, the many days it takes to travel, exchange letters and notes, etc. As we have advanced in society, so has our desire to expedite. People want devices and creations that will reduce as much time as possible for certain tasks. The car was meant to make traveling far quicker, thus saving time. Smartphones and the like have taken this to a new extreme, letting us find and exchange information of any sort instantly. Due to this, the logical assumption would be that we have more time than ever nowadays. While that may or may not be true, it doesn’t matter much as we still aren’t able to properly manage it.
When discussing how technology is helping us save time, we’re often only looking at the benefits. The many negatives that comes from these creations often isn’t accounted for in our self-analysis. As Sarvasv Kulpati states in his article “How technology is stealing our time” these technologies that should save us time often still have us wasting it in a different way
With a smartphone, you can send emails, take photos, and access social media instantaneously, wherever you go. Think of all that time you save from not having to send letters, process film, or actually keep up with your friends (liking one Facebook post every now and then counts as socializing, right?) Except all this convenience only creates more problems elsewhere. While you can send emails instantaneously, you have to spend a lot of time filtering out heaps of spam and irrelevant messages to reach that mythical inbox zero.
While having access to all this information is great, filtering and managing it is a time-consuming bore. Beyond this email example, there’s a multitude of other devices that cause similar issues, such as your camera now being stuck with hundreds of pointless photos or the multitude of ads and all-around useless posts on social media and the like. There needs to be a balance with these devices and how they intend to expedite many of the time wasters in our life. It’s obvious finding a way to speed up these processes is a great idea but being able to debate the potential downsides and when to put an end to the convivence is key.
Stealing your time back
Now while these devices have their flaws, they still present many potential time management benefits. Part of the onus does fall upon the user to properly use the device. For example, news nowadays is known the instant it happens. Everyone sees the tweet or notification on their phone with a headline and react. While this does keep everyone informed, the level of information they have isn’t very high. While they may have a lose idea of what’s happening, they often just read the headline, react, and move on. They don’t read the article attached or anything beyond that. This often promotes emotional reactions and opinions, not in-depth discussions of potential issues. Much of this is responsible for the very polarizing world we live in today.
In his book Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport presents an alternative to this kind of news consumption, the concept of slow media
“The Slow Media Manifesto argues that in an age in which the digital attention economy is shoveling more and more clickbait toward us and fragmenting our focus into emotionally charged shards, the right response is to become more mindful in our media consumption: ‘Slow Media cannot be consumed casually, but provoke the full concentration of their users…Slow Media measure themselves in production, appearance and content against high standard of quality and stand out from their fast-paced and short-lived counterparts.’”
The key word there is concentration. Being able to concentrate on a story, read about, understanding exactly what’s going on and the like, and you’ll be able to have an informed opinion. This also goes along with an overarching concept of saving time. Similar to deep work, you want to find key things to focus on and focus on them heavily. As has been shown and discussed before, multitasking doesn’t work. You need to have your full focus on one area. Beyond just deep work, if this concept is applied to things such as news consumption and technology usage, maybe we can regain that time that’s been taken from us.