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Unless the Earth changes its path around the Sun, it looks like 24 hours is going to be a pretty hardcore determinant of the partitions of time into days, hours and minutes, unless, of course, you are a zebrafish larva. Scientists say it has a gene that can be manipulated to change the larva’s circadian rhythms essentially extending the larva’s day. For the rest of us the breakthrough in time management is not that time can suddenly be recalibrated, but that the dictatorship of the clock holds less sway.
JM, a Princeton-based ADD coach, works to the beat of a non-clock drum. Without looking at the clock or using a to-do list, JM gets things done all day long and stays on time. “I know what kind of activities I do best throughout the day. From 6:30-8:30 a.m. without fail, I exercise, walk or swim. I also use that time to rehearse my day in my head. From 8:30- 10:30 I’m at the computer “eating the frog first.” JM also uses her magnificent working memory, kinesthetic memory and visual memory, as well as techniques like memory castles. “When I do errands on my commute, I map out in my mind the actual geography of my errands and rehearse them mentally so I do them in the most efficient way possible. In fact, I visualize my whole day in my head, kind of like a movie. I can actually picture myself moving through my day.” JM sees clients from 1-5 pm, then does wrap up from 5-6 pm. Afterwards it’s dinner, chores, and clean-up before she heads to bed. “I don’t need a schedule because I already know what I’m doing during certain times of the day; I call it ‘automaticity’.”
Susan Lannis has another name for it: time awareness. Lannis, who calls herself ‘the Time Liberator’, asserts that, “Time is becoming liberated from the clock because technology has released us from doing things face-to-face, in the same space at the same time as others.” She believes we are increasingly free to work in rhythm with time’s natural pulse. “Awareness of our natural pulse will replace time management,” Lannis claims. The pulse of time has four beats (my terminology, not Lannis’). In the first beat, we expend energy and create. We “hold up” a bit on the second beat, which Lannis characterizes as ‘evaluative.’ The third beat is a ‘gathering-in’ or a resting called a “contraction” followed by a fourth beat, another hold, as we prepare for the next pulse of creativity. Lannis’ book Time Awareness is due for publication at the end of 2015.
Recognizing that the nature of work is different in our digital society than in previous clock-oriented eras, some corporations are developing post-clock models, such as allowing employees to get paid for results rather than by the hour. If you accomplish your results in less than a workweek, you’re done working for the week; the Earth and Sun be damned! Thomas Merton said “… we should stop working, not for the purpose of recovering one’s lost strength and becoming fit for the forthcoming labor….but for a Sabbath, a day for the sake of life.” In the post-clock society, when work is untethered from the clock, walls, bosses, geography and proximity, it is easy to reinvest our productivity gains into more work. We should instead strive to invest it into rest and leisure for “the sake of life.” What could be more important?
If you want to learn more about how our world has changed into one full of infinite information, constant distractions and boundless stuff, I recommend my book Getting Organized in the Era of Endless: What to Do When Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff are Endless But Time is Not.
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