Work With Time vs. Race Against Time

I heard the phrase very often that one has to treat time as a cooperator rather than an enemy. I really don’t know what that means. Whether a cooperator or an enemy, time sneaks away and disappears fast. If it is a cooperator, it’s an irresponsible and fickle one. As to whether it is an enemy, I don’t know and I can’t say. If by any chance it is an enemy, it’s an invisible, passive one, better at slipping away than punching your face.

I’ve been struggling with managing my time for years, but still I am no expert. I know that when several things happen at once, I will be exposing my incapacity at multi-tasking; if there’s a need for prioritization, I will not be able to meet the demand due to my imperfect judgement and evaluation; I’m often distracted by trivial things happening in life, which hamper my power of concentration. I am deeply flawed and will continue to be this way.

The only thing I’ve learned through my endless wrestling with time is how to live and function, knowing the way I am and the habits I have. I can’t just apply other people’s time management method on myself. I tried many times, but each time it ends up in failure. I tried to use an organizer to plan every minute of my waking time: 20 minutes on this, 1 hour on that, 2 hours for something else. After a while I felt weird and couldn’t continue. I thought if I were consistent, I could get over the initial discomfort of the new time management regime, but that didn’t happen. The strange feeling persisted and my productivity didn’t improve–rather it decreases.

Another downside of this rigorous time planning is that at the designated hours for writing a particular piece, I couldn’t push myself to do it–I was just not in the mood. My mind turned blank. To cave in to my disciplinary demand, I wrote but my writing felt so forced and unnatural that I had to throw it away. I guess other people can do it–making a schedule and pushing themselves to adhere to it–but I can’t. The only thing I can do is to make a loose timeline, in which I have plenty of flexibility to arrange and rearrange to fit the mood of the day.

Another thing I’ve learned is that whenever ideas rush to my mind, I need to seize the moment. If I am cooking, I have to drop the cooking and start working on that idea for a little while. If I disregard my impulse and continue cooking, I would lose it, or more than half of it. The recalled idea after cooking and having dinner is just not the same. It’s sometimes weaker, often truncated, most of the time unusable. If I am doing something I can’t stop doing for a while, I’ll have to resign to my fate. This is why I hate when ideas come to me when I’m driving. The timing cannot be worse.

I won’t enjoy myself if I do things quickly. I can do it, but it feels like drudgery. The speed and the rush take the pleasure entirely away and leave me with nothing but a vain pride of having completed something. Actually completion has always been overrated. If one completes everything and enjoys nothing, it should be considered a failure. What’s the point of completing a book or a course one dislikes? After a while, one forgets about it completely. It often happens that one never has the chance to use any of it in one’s life. It’s such a waste of time.

I’m a slow reader. Kindle book will usually tell you how many minutes left in the chapter, but it usually takes me 10% or 15% longer. Once I read an article about speed reading and I immediately started to apply it on my book. I scanned the content quickly, tried to capture several phrases at one glance, identified the unimportant part to skip. It’s an exhausting effort, but I ended up not comprehending what I’ve read and feeling frustrated. According to the idea of reincarnation, I am thinking that I might be a tortoise or sloth in my last life–very slow in movement. This slowness has been carried over to my human incarnation. Now knowing that I am a tortoise, I want to be true to my tortoise self. Attempting speed read feels like a tortoise trying to beat a rabbit in a long distance run. That will not do. Just get real and be a tortoise.

20 thoughts on “Work With Time vs. Race Against Time

  1. There is drinking liquor and drinking wine, right? For drinking liquor one has to drink it up as much and as fast as possible, it’s look down upon to simply drink it a few sips at a time. Yet with wine one should drink it as slowly as possible, savoring every drop as it goes down your throat.

    I can see the same with you and books. Books are less like hard liquor and more like wine.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Great analogy. I have witnessed people drink hard liquor in spurts of “bottom up”. That’s true. “Savoring every drop.” LOL. Yes, the savoring will be missing if you do it too quickly. Good books especially so.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you on time management. It never worked for me. Ideas come to me when I’m about to fall asleep, in a state where I’m incapable of getting up. And if you’re a tortoise you’ll live a long long life๐Ÿ˜… so you’ll have a lot of time to get things done.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s true. Long long life. Hahaha. And I hope all my friends–online and offline–will be there to accompany me forever. LOL. Yes, it is true that when I try to force some ideas, I end up staring into a blank space for hours without having anything. I don’t know how other people do time management, but I can’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Multi tasking is an art which I’ve yet to master. But do I want to master it?? ๐Ÿค”One task at a time is good enough for a laid back person like me and also too much frenzy takes away the joy of it as you rightly said..๐Ÿ˜

    Liked by 5 people

  4. My goal day after day is to remember more than the day before. I don’t have the artistic ability and experience to do what have translated into your blog. I do have the same problems prioritizing my time and I’m not the best multitasker in the least.
    I’ve been a part of the community for only a short time now and have found solace from other media platforms.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you for your praise and thank you for reading. Yes, I’ve tried many time and never able to manage my time. Also I watched shows–how to organize this and that–still I am not able to do it successfully. I’m just genetically incapable of organizing, I guess. LOL. I’ve been in this community for about a year. You are right. Writing is a solace and an outlet.


  5. Great literature takes you out of time … read it as slowly as YOU want, re-read passages, make notes. The author took great care … so should us readers. Could you blog a list of your favourite books (not necessarily the typical canon titles) ? I always like to expand my knowledge of writers.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Great point. Great literature has to be read slowly. I totally agree. And enjoy them over and over again. I have a few favorite authors and favorite books like Nora Ephron, Evelyn Waugh, Somerset Maugham, George Orwell, Erich Fromm. Probably all “canon” authors in your opinion. LOL. I don’t read contemporary authors much.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have the same thing with ideas rushing into my head. If I don’t jot down enough of it to make sense later I forget what it was. I sit down at the blog and try to think of that brilliant post I had all planned.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That’s true. I think I’ve lost a lot of treasures by not immediately writing it down. LOL. I jotted down the other day, “dilemma”, “complicated issue”, but I have no idea what I was trying to say. Hahaha.

      Liked by 2 people

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