Timefulness is the dream we’ve all been waiting for.
Most of us have been running a rat race, we try and get more and more things done and so we manage time to the utmost and we feel the most deprived. In effect, we become overwhelmed by the amount of things we have to do and we no longer enjoy the time we spent.
The concept of Timefulness is that there is always enough time, that everything fits within time itself. What we need to learn is more nuanced. It’s a two part process - the first being understanding efficiency and maximizing productivity, the second being, being able to feel relaxed and enjoy the process of it. Here is how it works.
1. Productivity is merely another term for achieving performance, low productivity is merely low performance and high productivity is high performance.
High performance is the root of maximizing time itself. You can work longer or harder, which speeds things up in the sense of there is more stuff done, but it doesn’t equal to performance. What performance understands is it is not about what you do, but how you do it. When you focus on what to do, you only consider the same actions but in a different order, but when you focus on how to do it, you consider changing the method.
So for example, if you have 100 emails to reply to, you will reply to the most important ones first and then so on. If you focus on the how, the how the work gets done, you will focus on changing the method - which could be simplifying the messages sent and received, batch tasking them, and only really focusing on relevant ones.
So by understanding the process - you understand efficiency is built into what we are doing, so it’s not about the speed at which we accomplish a mess, but how smooth and efficient everything is.
It is like well timed traffic on the freeway, a high volume of cars fly through, but once you start having people braking, changing lanes, and it becomes messy, traffic slows almost to a stop.
2. The second part of Timefulness is maximizing the enjoyment spent within time itself, which is the meaning of Timefulness - to remain within time.
There is an easy way to accomplish this, it’s called life vacation. This came about as an experiment for myself. I always felt so busy, even when I went on a 1 year retreat to China to spend time learning Kung fu and Qigong (a kind of meditation).
So literally, all I had to do was go and spend about 6 hours of training every day with ample free time, all the meals were prepared and there were no bills to pay or errands to run. But I was still preoccupied to get ahead, I was studying Chinese every minute I could, training extra hours and practicing more qigong in the evening, until I was completely worn out, every day.
I only made time for “leisure” on the weekends, otherwise it was just work, even at a kung fu camp with lots friends, green nature, healthy meals and all the fun you could have. I did completely enjoy myself there, but I was still busy, like I still wasn’t doing enough. Years later while I was researching time and considering how we spend it, I remembered I was so use to being busy, that I couldn’t even relax when there was nothing to be busy about.
I realized, most of us are used to being busy, that it’s not even so much about the stuff we are doing or have going on. So as an experiment, I thought, what if I just took a whole week off during my working week. No social media, no electronic entertainment - like cell phone games, news, browsing the internet. I would only work and then do anything that was absolutely necessary - like eat or take out the garbage if it was full.
Otherwise, I was free to spend my time however I like. What happened was weird, I started creating a vacuum for the stuff in my life that I was too busy for, like making a bamboo water fountain, enjoying a meal at a restaurant and cooking foods that I liked, instead of meal-ready-to-go.
I shared this with a couple of other friends, one friend decided to “take the night off” after work. He had headed home and seen all the leaves in the backyard and thought “man, I should really rake that all up.” but he said, “you know what, I’m going to take the night off.” And then he went and visited his neighbor who he barely said hi to anymore. After that, he thought about getting back to raking. But it was a nice fall evening, so he enjoyed a cigar on his back deck.
Afterwards, he thought, well, whatever I’ll just rake up a little corner. He started with that and then finished it. So, his evening was very well spent, he enjoyed himself within time and that natural vacuum created space to do the things he really wanted to do, like having a clean backyard, simply because he wanted to.
Another friend I told this to, worked from home and would often feel like just “jumping right into work first thing in the morning” to start getting things done. She would often want to go for a walk in the morning, but it felt so unproductive, like time away from work caused her to lose clients. But one morning, she decided to take a life vacation and just simply enjoy what she wanted in the morning.
So, when she got up, she enjoyed some yoghurt and decided to go outside and walk around. Before morning walks were like a 15 minute “crunch this in there” and get back to work, but instead she enjoyed a nice walk and did something she always wanted to do, but didn’t. The result was, the morning was so fresh and rejuvenating that she was more creative with her work which caused her performance skyrocketed.
And this is something we don’t often think about, that leisure can increase productivity.
When we think of productivity in terms of performance, we can see that we are all athletes and we perform at our best when we feel our best. So this is the basis of enjoyment of time.