tension through attention
there are 60 minutes in an hour and 1440 minutes in an entire day. of course it doesn’t seem like much really even if it is a rather large number. why? because minutes pass by innocuously without much fanfare. mulling on the subject, i concocted this modern koan on the ancient subject of time:
time in minutes slips away, first the hour then the day. small the daily loss appears, till it soon amounts to years.
time is forever
procrastination is the modus operandi, we use to kill time. ironic really, because in the end it is time that kills us! but before that day arrives, there are many moments we enjoy in our favour.
we live with the illusion that we have all the time in the world. we plan our lives around this assumed “fact”. our entire career and even life, revolves around tomorrow which promises glory and gold at the end of the tunnel.
we study today for better grades tomorrow, get better grades today for a better job tomorrow, get a better job today for a secure salary tomorrow and so on. this thinking leads us to risk our present for a lucrative tomorrow.
but why not, you ask?
because time doesn’t wait for anyone and the youth you sacrifice today in the pursuit of profit will never return. are you really aware of the tradeoff you’re making?
traditional thought and methods of thinking, living and working are ill equipped to modern challenges and current day scenarios. the slow process of resolution by committee (lack of individual agency) and miles of red tape leaves things undone and incomplete, problems unsolved and people dissatisfied.
students spend years of their life gaining knowledge and acquiring skills that they will barely ever use. on an average day, the most important skills (learnt in school), that i still use on a regular basis are only basic arithmetic to calculate and language to communicate.
it is an extremely inefficient use of time if the majority of one’s youth is wasted in the pursuit of useless education. especially when you realise the greatest learning one can realise at the end of this blind pursuit of knowledge, is that one knows nothing.
this blank slate is the ideal starting point for an open mind; the ideal fertile playground for creativity and problem solving. it’s this state of being or thinking that develops the primary skills of real-time living needed for today’s chaotic world of infinite possibilities.
the traditional learning module is broken down into semesters comprising of multiple classes of 40-60 minutes each. but when the average attention span is no more than 20 minutes, why waste energy once you’ve lost focus?
use this exercise to initiate and maintain a healthy and efficient process of learning, working and ideating. get yourself a simple kitchen timer (don’t fiddle with a multi function stopwatch or smartphone app), set the timer for 20 minutes and go!
yes, it’s that simple. when the timer goes off, stop whatever you’re doing. you’ll find your excitement skyrocketing and creativity flooding. initially, the poor performance might reveal the sloth of your existing thought vs action synchronicity. but as you continue, you’ll learn to savour time, allocating equal importance to outlining, working and reviewing all within the tight deadline you’ve set yourself.
try to break down all your gargantuan tasks into 20 minute sub tasks. if you allocate 30 minutes for each sub task you will even be left with a 10 minute break which will be the perfect foil to the intense focused work you’ve just accomplished. almost like the Pomodoro technique, but with more time for a break 😉 this intense laser focused modus operandi isn’t intended only to increase your productivity but to amp up your play. to savour every moment like it could be your last and dive deep into the experience of whatever you’re doing. remember it’s not the speed at which you’re living your life but the urgency with which you devour each mile. frantic without panic. tension can also destress you, like it can stress you.
work less, play more!
recently i’ve been playing with this concept using racket’s new 9 min podcast tool. listen in and let me know how you like the experiments. write back to volunteer to be in one.