Inspiration: Why time management is ruining our lives

This is a fabulous article in The Guardian about why trying to manage our time better, be more productive, get to "Inbox Zero", etc. is not helping us live happier lives. It might be making it worse!

It is a long, but worthwhile read that you can find here. Below are excerpts that really stuck with me and changed my perspective on productivity.

 
The long read: Why time management is ruining our lives. All our efforts to be more productive backfire - and only make us feel even busier and more stressed. By Oliver Burkeman.

The long read: Why time management is ruining our lives. All our efforts to be more productive backfire - and only make us feel even busier and more stressed. By Oliver Burkeman.

 
The allure of the doctrine of time management is that, one day, everything might finally be under control. Yet work in the modern economy is notable for its limitlessness. And if the stream of incoming emails is endless, Inbox Zero can never bring liberation: you’re still Sisyphus, rolling his boulder up that hill for all eternity – you’re just rolling it slightly faster.
 
The problem of how to manage time, accordingly, goes back at least to the first century AD, when the Roman philosopher Seneca wrote On The Shortness of Life. ‘This space that has been granted to us rushes by so speedily, and so swiftly that all save a very few find life at an end just when they are getting ready to live,’ he said, chiding his fellow citizens for wasting their days on pointless busyness, and ‘baking their bodies in the sun’.

Clearly, then, the challenge of how to live our lives well is not a new one. Still, it is safe to say that the citizens of first-century Rome didn’t experience the equivalent of today’s productivity panic...What is uniquely modern about our fate is that we feel obliged to respond to the pressure of time by making ourselves as efficient as possible – even when doing so fails to bring the promised relief from stress.
 
In Taylor’s day, efficiency had been primarily a way to persuade (or bully) other people to do more work in the same amount of time; now it is a regimen that we impose on ourselves.
 
As with Inbox Zero, so with work in general: the more efficient you get at ploughing through your tasks, the faster new tasks seem to arrive. (“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion,” as the British historian C Northcote Parkinson realised way back in 1955, when he coined what would come to be known as Parkinson’s law.)
One of the sneakier pitfalls of an efficiency-based attitude to time is that we start to feel pressured to use our leisure time “productively”, too – an attitude which implies that enjoying leisure for its own sake, which you might have assumed was the whole point of leisure, is somehow not quite enough. And so we find ourselves, for example, travelling to unfamiliar places not for the sheer experience of travel, but in order to add to our mental storehouse of experiences, or to our Instagram feeds. We go walking or running to improve our health, not for the pleasure of movement; we approach the tasks of parenthood with a fixation on the successful future adults we hope to create.
 
You can seek to impose order on your inbox all you like – but eventually you’ll need to confront the fact that the deluge of messages, and the urge you feel to get them all dealt with, aren’t really about technology. They’re manifestations of larger, more personal dilemmas. Which paths will you pursue, and which will you abandon? Which relationships will you prioritise, during your shockingly limited lifespan, and who will you resign yourself to disappointing? What matters?

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