The first is Laura Vanderkam's "The Busy Person's Lies" in the New York Times. I knew her name from discussions over at nicoleandmaggie's place. Although I'm not a True Believer (because what she & Sheryl Sandberg seem to attribute to savvy management I see as having money enough to throw at problems), the information Vanderkam provides about where her time actually went is interesting.
Vanderkam's point is that we exaggerate the misery or the things we hate to do and that there's a lot of time wasted that we don't count. We don't work as long and as hard as we think we do, she says. Her estimates seem pretty reasonable except that she says she spends only 3 minutes a day logging her time every half hour, which seems very low.
According to Vanderkam, logging one's time leads to a feeling of abundance and gratitude as women realize that they aren't as busy as they think they are, #blessed. Her honesty in this article, or what appears to be honesty, goes a long way toward supporting this point and toward giving me more respect for her ideas than I have had previously.
Still, not all hours of the day can be productive, or maybe "productive" in the way that can be quantified. A recent article on time-logging mentioned that, for example, waiting by the side of a road when your car breaks down gets logged as "leisure," but it's not exactly a day at the beach.
Another example: Full-time care of young children is rewarding but also exhausting in ways that no productivity charts can measure, something Vanderkam may not realize because she has a nanny. If you go to a computer after a day with a 2 1/2 year old, you might just stare at it, too tired to move, let alone think.
And although I log some kinds of time (the writing spreadsheet and a to-do list system that's similar to some of the ones at Profhacker), I suspect that logging time every half hour would lead to a feeling more like #killmenow than #blessed.
The second is an article at IHE about The Slow Professor by Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber. It's clear that they're women after my own heart or entirely right (same thing). A few snippets (quoted from the article but broken up because who doesn't love a listicle?):
- [T]he discussion focuses on the links between time, commitments and personal stress, and emphasizes trying to achieve a sense of “flow” or “timelessness,” which presents as creativity (and productivity). How to get into the flow? Avoid or eliminate to the extent possible environmental factors that interfere with creativity, the book says. Protect “a time and a place for timeless time” and continually remind yourself “that this is not self-indulgent but rather crucial to intellectual work.”
- Slow Professor proposes getting off-line as much as possible and doing less by thinking of scheduling as eliminating commitment’s from one’s day, not taking them on.
- Perhaps most importantly, it proposes leaving room in one’s schedule for regular “timeless time,” starting with some kind of relaxing, transitional ritual. Incorporate playfulness and shun those negative self-thoughts. And don’t forget leaving time to do nothing at all, the book says.
Maybe writing books based on some kinds of popular data (time management) only requires the 5-minute snippets that Vanderkam doesn't want us to waste. It's a convection oven for when regular heat just isn't fast enough, and it makes a palatable product.
The kind of books and articles that most academics write, though, can only be done with reflection and time not only for the "flow" experience but for knitting connections together in the brain. It's slowcoach writing or maybe slow cooker writing, since the ideas have to simmer to break down the tough membranes of resistance between the ideas to bring out the flavor of the new and strange.