If there is one certainty in life, it must be the finiteness of time. ‘From the cradle to the grave’, they say. They also say that you have to face the inevitable so you can enjoy the possible.
We are directed by this fact – no, more than that, we are driven by it. Looks like the wise thing to do, but… is it really? We will see later on.
A couple weeks ago I came down with the flu, and had to cancel an appointment. My boss, who also happens to be my friend, told me ‘slow down homie, take some time to smell the flowers’. Guess what, he is the workaholic-est person I know. Right back at cha, homie. (Please don’t fire me.)
Just a little disclaimer. Everything I am going to state along this article can be either good or bad, but mainly…it just is. These are some facts, behaviors and trends I have been gathering and considering. You choose the way you want to live your life, so take the liberty of making your own judgments.
The bullet list journal fever.
it is no coincidence that bullet journals are so hot right now. Basically, they are like planners or notebooks where you set some sort of key or code to identify your tasks (‘urgent’, ‘important’, ‘overdue’, ‘fitness’, etc.). Oh, and they are really pretty. Seriously, if your handwriting is ugly…do not event try it.
A bullet journal is a place where you list virtually everything. The movies you want to see (more on this later), the items you are going to carry on your upcoming trip, the deadlines for your school projects.
But what is it that makes the act of listing so freaking irresistible?
- We make lists because we want to make the most of our time.
Lists help us measuring how many activities we can cram in a single day.
- We make lists because want to be efficient.
We not only list the tasks we have to perform, but also the steps and the things we need to get it done.
So far, listings sound like a useful method. Well, this is where things start to get nasty.
- We make lists because we want to be in control.
Everybody wants to avoid working on Sundays. Even the Protestant Ethics say so. Protestantism is all about working hard during your life in this world so you can secure a good place in the other. That is what you should do every day of your life… except for Sundays, which are for worshipping the Lord.
However, just visit Starbucks on any given Sunday and you will see a flock of hip agnostics, heads all buried in books and MacBooks. Believe me, I should know – I am one of them.
- We make lists because we do not know the difference between work and leisure anymore.
You can enjoy your work, which is great, or you can be afflicted by your free time, which is just sad. I am still shocked by now the way we enjoy our spare time has lost its spontaneity. It is one thing to plan an outing, to book a dinner reservation, to schedule a double date. To set a particular amount of minutes apart, everyday, for pleasure reading…that is another thing entirely.
Let’s go even further. Some people organize their day using playlists. A friend of mine has a set of seven one-hour-duration playlists, that she listens to while she runs. My cousin allows herself only a daily two-hour dose of music, that helps her concentrate while she works on a personal project; she cannot ‘allow’ herself anymore because her 9-to-5 job as a telemarketer is obviously not compatible with music listening. They both love music, and they have one more thing in common – they take Sundays to plan what they will listen to the following week. They also schedule this activity in their respective journals, right next to ‘do the laundry’: compose playlist.
When I was little I had this totally unrealistic fantasy: I was determined to read every book ever written and to watch every movie ever filmed (even those that sucked). Yeah, I used think that was doable. Of course I loved (and still do) literature and movies, but suddenly reading and watching became a chore. I would tick the movies seen as if they were done chores, such as cleaning or making the bed. I snapped out of that a while ago, and stopped counting. Well, not exactly: I still keep my GoodReads account (Oh snap, I’m two books behind schedule!).
Anyways, there is a reason why we thank others so much for the playlists they share on Spotify: we do not have to make them ourselves! Our relationship with music has become mercantilist, to put it bluntly. And time has become a commodity we trade for music.
Maybe it is a good think that we finally opened up our eyes to the fact that time is not money. Time is time, there is nothing as precious and scarce as time is. You buy things not with money but with the time you spent working to earn money to buy things. Get it?
But there is something else going on here. We have become time savers just for the sake of saving time. What is time if you do not enjoy it, though? What is the point in scheduling (which is another way of saying ‘making yourself do something’) music listening, movies watching, books reading? We spend time browsing YouTube for life hacks than we use it for watching music videos. We spend more money in journals, notebooks and Moleskins than in actual books.
I have been playing Devil’s Advocate throughout this piece. Please bear with me one last time. Journaling can be a powerful creativity booster, but not necessarily planning or scheduling.
The healthy thing to do is just stop for a minute and reconsider the way we want our lives to be. Should we also see our behavior towards entertainment in terms of efficiency and productivity?
For better or for worse… it’s up to you.