austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I don't care what others say

I was alarmed to learn a friend had recently decided to experiment with ``time management''. I'm still disturbed by the news. ``Time management'' is one of those faintly positive-sounding phrases used to make the horrible sound almost not horrible, like ``budget restructuring'' or ``web site redesign'' or ``service adjustment''. Even the words chosen for it mislead. ``Time management'' sounds like you've got control over what time is doing and could therefore decree the weekend will have an extra three days and on Wednesday it will jump from 9:30 am directly to 4 pm without any of the tedious middle section. It isn't. However you manage your time you're going to see 2:27 pm on a Wednesday no matter what your arguments against Wednesday are. They are excellent.

What they call time management is just doing more stuff than you'd do if you were making any conscious choice about it, and doing it at hours you'd never imagine devoting to that task. For example consider the case of pants. If you're managing your time, then you might look at a pair of pants, put them on after a brief struggle, notice you were wearing a pair already, and return one or both pairs to the person you swiped the pair you looked at. All this would be expected to take under fifteen minutes, longer if you count restoring wallets and forming a proper urban myth about this.

Now imagine the same glance at a pair of pants when you aren't managing time: it is bound to occur to you that if you stand up while wearing pants they don't usually fall down, but what force holds the pants against your legs or waist? To hold something still while it's vertical would take an infinitely large coefficient of friction, and infinite friction isn't achieved by any material, not even uncomfortable corduroy pants from the 1970s. Therefore there's no way pants can possibly stay on people, and consequently all those people you think you see wearing pants must be conducting some kind of elaborate fraud, one possibly involving body paints and implanted fake pockets. Worse, if you wear pants you must be part of the fraud, and if you have memories of putting them on and taking them off and not making do with any of the faking then some force is manipulating your memories to participate in this whole ``pants'' hoax.

This is just one of many thoughts you would never have if you were to use your time efficiently. Also if you used your time effectively. If you had your time fricasseed you might see something a little different, but it wouldn't be healthy with your activity level. Another thought you would never have is to realize socks can't possibly work either. And you haven't done anything about the person wearing the other pants you'd noticed, and don't think he's not appreciative. Already by not managing your time you've avoided at least one scuffle and possibly criminal charges. Where is the benefit to managing time?

There's none, of course, just the smug confidence that one is somehow accomplishing many more things one doesn't want to do more swiftly than one doesn't want to do them. Worse, time management fanatics are inexplicably fond of getting up early in the morning to do all these things one doesn't want to do. There's something about rising at dawn which some people mistake for accomplishment, when all they really have to show for it is glibly remembering that quote from Benjamin Franklin, who usually stayed up two hours past midnight and then went to work drinking with 18th century French nobility. They never mention that side, of course, and they probably don't even know any 18th century French nobles.

The good news which dropped my emotional state from alarmed to just disturbed is that as far as I can tell the ``time management'' fad lasted just one day, and the next day all was well, by which I mean that unworkable times like 7:42 am weren't being put to any non-sleeping application and he didn't get into any brawls regarding pants. This is much more nearly as it should be.

Trivia: Between 1960 and 1971 cotton's share of the apparel market in the United States dropped from 66 percent to 34 percent, and it would drop lower before the Cotton Inc campaign to ``come home to cotton''. Source: Big Cotton: How A Humble Fiber Created Fortunes, Wrecked Civilizations, And Put America On The Map, Stephen Yafa.

Currently Reading: The Influence Of Sea Power Upon History, 1660 - 1783, Alfred Thayer Mahan.


  • And then the crowds came near

    A goldfish died today. We'd come very near returning them to the pond outdoors without losing one. There wasn't an obvious sign of something being…

  • They came to blows

    I had the first piece of outright nonsense that I can specifically associate with the new company owners today. This was a Webex presentation about…

  • Each comparing existential threats

    My mathematics blog has been quiet, with a bunch of low-key stuff even for these quiet times. I'm working on something for Wednesday. You'll se…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.