Finding (Making) Time

Last week I came across an article in the Medium by Michael Simmons: "Why Successful People Spend 10 Hours A Week on Compound Time." Recently, my interest in time management has shifted from the micromanagement of developing good daily and weekly habits to a larger scale where the long haul (10 years, 20 years etc.) is considered. 

So naturally I was curious what he had to say. 

The American workforce, including the academic community, seems keen to have a busy schedule at all times and yet, according to Simmons, most people considered to be successful in the world have mastered the art of saying "no" and shutting out the world, at least for part of their week. Simmons suggests that we should also do the same and gives advice that we should make journaling, napping, walking, reading, and talking, among other things, a priority if we are to maintain long-term creativity. I couldn't agree more.

Last week in my writing class, I asked my students to sit for 20 minutes in class and write. They could use their computer, they could use paper notebook - the medium was not necessarily important. The time in class that I offered to them was one that was free from distraction and confined. What I wanted them to do was to see what they could accomplish in this "short" period of time. I asked them prior to writing to make a note of what they did well (in their writing) this past week. Then I asked them to think about what they could improve on today and in the next week. This journaling aspect of reflection was designed to help them develop their own critical feedback. Once the writing session was finished, I asked them to do the same and reflect on their 20 minute activity.

What they learned about themselves surprised them: some did not think that they would be able to start at all while others realized just how much time it was going to take them to write their term paper. What I wanted them to find out for themselves in this exercise was that a concentrated 20 minutes can accomplish a lot more than a hap-hazard hour. 

What I think that many of the people referenced in Simmon's article do is precisely this type of time allotment. They likely schedule intense moments of work throughout their week and then schedule times when they will relax and invest in their own development. Both of these activities are scheduled, preplanned, and without distraction. 

I have found in my own work that when I write out exactly what I am going to do with an estimate for about how long it is going to take, I work better. Once it is scheduled, it is non-negotiable that I get at the very least the tasks that I have set out for myself accomplished. Because I do this, I can also take breaks during the day or over the weekend without stressing out how much work I need to get done. For me, the peace of mind to be able to enjoy life outside of my scheduled work comes from a well organized structured routine. 

In other words, having undergone a series of steps over the last two to three years towards establishing a lifestyle that is productive and within reach of my goals and physical capabilities, I feel that I have been able to find those special pockets of time that Simmons talks about to compound my own time. I've learned that when I rest and recover from the week over the weekends and that I get everything I want to get done finished with more energy and drive. None of the methods that I have adopted are rocket science. In fact, they are simple. It has been said that unnecessary multiplication of entities should not reach beyond: "Non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem." - William of Ockham. At this moment, I feel that balance has been achieved. Now, I need to learn how to maintain this place.


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