Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: The "Four Thousand Weeks" Read Part 5

The Writing Life And Those Present Moments

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that in Four Thousand Weeks Oliver Burkeman deals with time in general and not with something specific in mind that readers want to do with their time, the way I write about dealing with time management specifically in order to write. In some ways I think one could argue that Four Thousand Weeks isn't a time management book at all, but a time philosophy book. Burkeman's major point with this book is that when you are always using your time, your present moments, for something that's coming up in the future--promotions at work, training for an athletic event, getting into graduate school, planning a wedding, writing a book--your present moments have little value for themselves. You're not enjoying your present moments. 

I found this to be a little bit judgy, as in it may be wrong to spend your present time working toward completing something in the future. Or, what's more, to spend your present time managing your present time so you can complete something in your future. 

In writing world, we have a saying: "Nobody wants to write a book. Everyone wants to have written one." Writing is difficult and sometimes boring, as I was just saying last week. The people who are able to continue doing it, particularly when traditional payoffs such as publication and money come rarely for most of us, are those who do enjoy spending their present moments sitting in front of a computer or old typewriter or journal and generating paragraphs or pages on one project or another, picking up where they left off a few days or weeks or months ago, or doing research, scrapping it all and beginning again. 

It's called The Writing Life for a reason, and maybe there is a philosophy of time involved with it, too. 

Reading this section of Four Thousand Weeks, which, as I said, I found a bit judgy, reminded me of the ending of Cheaper By the Dozen in which Ernestine Gilbert Carey and Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. say of their father, Frank B. Gilbreth, an early advocate of time-and-motion studies:

“Someone once asked Dad: “But what do you want to save time for? What are you going to do with it?” “For work, if you love that best,” said Dad. “For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.” He looked over the top of his pince-nez. “For mumblety-peg, if that's where your heart lies.”

I guess I'm concerned less about what people do with their time, in the present moment or the future, than I am that they have that time to do it.



Ms. Yingling said...

I love that quote from Cheaper by the Dozen. Have to admit that I don't think much about time management, though read your posts religiously. Perhaps I should, and would accomplish more!

Gail Gauthier said...

That's nice to hear. Also, I'd have to say that quote from "Cheaper by the Dozen" may be my favorite about time management.

I think what time management has done for me is help impose order and give a sense of control. And some of what Burkeman talks about in his book I have come to realize, too. That you have to give up some things, for instance, in order to do others. I'm not sewing much, anymore, Karen, though I do have some minor projects calling to me.

Susan B. said...

Thanks, Gail. Great blog as always.