Warren & Bill on time

Really any exec will tell you similar things: time is the ultimate currency.

You Control Your Time (Warren Buffett + Bill Gates)

But few execs will be as adorable as these two explaining what they think about time to Charlie Rose.

Bill is onto something about prioritizing thinking above action.  Warren has mastered it by keeping his calendar open.  I assure you they are not gone to seed and phoning it in.  Rather they are at peak productivity.


about perceiving time

I’ve written a few posts here that referenced processes that make you aware of time.  Several encouraged you to think of time in 10 minute chunks.

Two very effective friends spoke up to argue against this.  One explained to me that he doesn’t think of his time in ten minute chunks, he thinks of it as a queue of tasks, that have a cost and a benefit.  Another explained that obsessing over time takes you out of your flow, away from the proper objects of your focus.

They are both right.

I find constant awareness of time exhausting.  I want to – but have yet to – meet anyone that can get value from constant time focus like Pomodoro.

I proposed first article that uses 10 minute chunks as a way to think of time as a quantity, to make it more tangible and real.  This is helpful for a tween or young adult to introduce awareness of time if they currently don’t step back and see it.

The second article talking about 10 minute chunks is helpful for high-productivity people to have yet another approach to optimizing their time.

The throughline here is that being hyper conscious of time is a momentary & periodic activity.  You don’t want to gaze at the clock.  You periodically want to consider how your time is spent.  You want to audit yourself from time to time.

Day to day has to be habitual.  Develop habits that result in your time being well spent.  Generally you want this to be generating energy, to be sustainable.

Use time awareness to audit your habits.  Your priorities are what you spent your time on in this last month.  The priorities on your mental, digital, or physical list that got no time are not your priorities.  They are your aspirations.

To recap:

  • Become aware of time periodically to audit and find opportunity
  • Develop the habit of respecting time and using it for your fulfillment

Waste no ones time

Sharing time with someone is a sacrament.  It says: I will never get this moment back, and it is precious, and you may have it.  Which may say: you are the best thing in my life right now.

This is sacred.  Understanding this leads to a better understanding of the tragically misunderstood concept of altruism.  Sharing time is a sacred act.

Sacrificing time is the worst sin.

Say you are talking in a room full of people who have their own hopes and dreams.  Think of that responsibility!  Every moment you hold the floor you are stealing their time.  If you aren’t speaking, every moment you allow the room to suffer something less that enlightening or joyful or otherwise fulfilling to the room, is a moment you are letting these people die, just that little bit.

Said explicitly: remember that there isn’t much difference between living a long life in a coma, or a short life fully lived.  The value of a life is described by the area under the curve, regardless of how long.  This is true in the major case (e.g. a person in a coma is alive but is at zero fulfillment every moment) and in the minor (e.g. a meeting that is fruitless is depressing people’s fulfillment).

The importance of the large meeting is that if you are causing or allowing, say, 20 people to be living at 5% less than they otherwise would, you are, by Steve Jobs logic, putting a whole person in a coma for the length of that meeting.  This is little bit of death.

Let people live.

But we do much worse than allow a stultifying meeting.  Think of a relationship where one partner isn’t committed but out of kindness or cowardice pretends that everything is ok.  Years are spent hoping that the relationship is developing.  Think of the sin of that!

Think of a manager putting up with an employee who is getting insufficient feedback that they are doing less than they could.  The employee may live in ignorant bliss, not confronting their own dragons, but they are dying – a little bit – every day.  Think about the compounding factor of self improvement that they are missing.  Their arc on the curve is flat where they could be learning to soar.

Tell the truth today.

Waste no one’s time.

Note: if you are inspired to treat time as precious, and suddenly you find yourself yelling at people because you are frustrated that they don’t understand the value of time – as I did yesterday like a damn fool – then consider that while it’s possible your anger and negativity might be waking the room up so they can soar, it is also possible and even likely that you are destroying trust.  Trust that might have been used to take a chance on  an opportunity to help each other soar.  And negative emotions are rarely fun.  So you have likely at least destroyed that moment of your expression for everyone present, and stolen time where they have to process that out through thought or other release.  There is no right answer outside of the context of the moment.  A sergeant must yell at a soldier. But do not think that just because you value time, that raving about it is a good strategy that will result in a higher curve.  Be mindful of your impact around you, and attempt to conserve and elevate, not destroy, time.

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Another process to be mindful of time via 10 minute blocks + more

Previously I posted about a way to get your kid into time management.  The first step is to become aware of the nature of time.  The article showed in a post-GenZ accessible way to think of the day as 10 minute blocks.  This moves a curious mind towards perceiving time by thinking about those 10 minute units. That leads the curious mind towards other questions, which grows their harmony with the reality of time.

If we think about quanta we don’t think of some infinite resource.

Here is a great article, courtesy of GTD for CIOs.  It also talks about 10 minute blocks, but for adults.  It offers an *excellent* process for analyzing and optimizing your time.  I highly recommend you try it in your journey to become more mindful of your use of your most precious resource.

This is an conceptual tool sometimes used by people trying to drive awareness around the protecting the environment.  “Every second an acre of jungle is destroyed* “.  See how quantizing makes it more real than “bad things are happening to the jungle”?

When we talk about time, we should fix our discussions in real units to bring our awareness and mindfulness into harmony with reality.  Of all the non-renewable resources, nothing competes with time.  And no resource is more wasted.  We should all become time-conservationists.

Saving time – that is: applying more of it to things that matter – could save every other thing that needs saving.

* “every second..acre..destroyed”: I made up this metric just to have an example.  Probably it’s worse.  Or it doesn’t matter because trees are a renewable resource. Or we are permanently irrevocably damaging the ecosystem. I don’t know.  Feel free to correct me and inform CoT readers.  If you feel you want to correct me, ask yourself how that’s a better use of your time than, say, volunteering at Big Brother / Big Sister.  Or your local school.  Or than, say, learning Chinese, elixir, or how to be a better mom.  And reread the last paragraph of this article.

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Quality of Time

The quality of your time obviously varies.

We are sometimes sleepy and aren’t thinking straight.  Sometimes in love and every bite of food tastes better.  Sometimes depressed and everything is gray. When we were younger we weren’t as experienced time differently as a result – maybe it was more fun because we hadn’t experienced deep sorrow or fear or maybe we were not as wise then and so we glossed over our time, missing hidden joys

Consider how this varies in small and larger increments of time.  You will be sleepy to some degree each morning and night.  You may go through years of depression, or alternatively, being at your peak flow

A good exercise is to develop a habit of becoming aware of the relative quality of your time, the natural cycles, and the trend.

Relative to your own experience, and to your best estimate of what others are experiencing.

How am I feeling right now? Today? This month? This season? This year?

How am I acting? With clarity? With joy? With fear? With anger? With long pauses of… nothing?

Be curious about what, how, and why you are feeling and doing.  Find and surf the cycles you can’t change.  Experiment with effecting different cycles and trends where you find you can alter your experience of time.

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Your body

I want to be conscious of time. Time is the most impactful thing I can focus on.

But it is not the most fundamental aspect of my life.

My physical body is my absolute foundation. Without it I can’t even experience time.

Time retains my focus because even my body has a limited amount of time before it’s gone.

And I pay attention to my body in terms of time – what effect can I have upon my body over time? How much time have I spent on my body? What can i expect from my body at this age? In 10, 20, 30 years? If I work out intensely this month what will my body feel like next month?

Indeed getting my body in shape is essential for my personal fulfillment. I can’t get higher on the curve without being very fit. Fitness creates physical energy for me and allows me to do and enjoy more in life. It creates mental and spiritual energy also.

Conversely, when I fail to invest in my body, the rest of my life doesn’t work. My curve drops and it’s hard to climb back up.

Pay attention to your body. Without it you have no access to time.

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Sinofsky on Time Management

  1. Don’t follow advice from people that aren’t in your profession or with dissimilar lifestyles as your time management (he soon abbreviates it “TM”) needs are different
  2. Focus on your core activity and optimize around that
  3. Be mindful of team work – managing up, down, sideways, out
  4. Managers are different – your time belongs to your directs
  5. Be mindful, caring, devoted in your 1:1s

Lots more.  Must read: https://medium.learningbyshipping.com/time-management-a38493d795cf

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Friends are the most important choice

So much has been said.  Anything in the vein of “you are the average of your five closest friends” is essentially true.

It’s inhuman to select friends for what they will do for you.  I don’t want to be that person.

It’s also true that you should be deliberate in all of your time.

You should not suffer fools, although you can help them climb their curve if that is your fulfillment.  Indeed, if you remain with them you should – as a good friend and in the interest of your friends – demand the best of them.  It is an insult to fail to do this.

If you are honest with yourself you will care about your time spent.  Was it worth it to spend that evening with that friend?

If the answer is no, then you are failing to find fulfillment and you need to make a change.  Help them, fix the relationship or exit the friendship.

If the answer is yes, then you have something you can both build upon.

This is an urgent and defining aspect of your use of time.

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