How to always be on time (and beat transit-time-cognitive-blindness)

IMG_1239You’re born with, on average, 42 million minutes available (less 2.5 million minutes if you have what the kids call male privilege).
After using up about 28 million of mine I realise I am rather wasteful. A small part of this is due to my condition. Not long ago I was (self) diagnosed with “transit-time-cognitive-blindness”. It is untreatable. The symptom is lateness. No matter how much positive self-talk I attempt, no matter the flow charts, the project management and the sticky notes on the mirror, nor the concentration applied to timetables… when it comes to attending a meeting, catching a flight or seeing a movie it is impossible to factor in the transit time.

Friends who suffer from migraines tell me that they can be chatting to someone and suddenly their face disappears from view. It sounds bizarre and hard to believe. But apparently it’s quite common and they just carry on talking to their headless counterpart.

I have the time-keeping equivalent. It drives people potty but as Frankie Howard said, you shouldn’t mock the afflicted.
What always, always happens is that I cannot but assume that as soon as I tie my shoe laces I’ll be at the appointed place. As I have discovered after ten thousand shoe lace tyings, the moment the double-bow is pulled taut my transit-time-cognitive-blindness vanishes and I realise I have a distance to travel.

Consequently, life is a mad scramble and I have never walked to the tube station. I always run, always panicking and always yelling curses at myself.

Being stupid when it comes to measuring time is not unique to me. Dan Hamermash has spent thirty years studying how we spend time and we are all getting worse at it.
The reason we are getting worse is that we have such wealth and technological abundance that we are overwhelmed by the possible things we could do with our time and this generates enormous time pressure. When we had nothing to do but invent the wheel and hide from dinosaurs we measured every minute like a dog.
But now there are washing machines and calculators and power drills which bless us with the gift of time which we fill with Instagram, and Twitter, and EBay.
Hamermash writes: “Our ability to purchase and enjoy goods and services has risen much more rapidly than the amount of time available for us to enjoy them. The more rapid growth in income than in the time we have at our disposal creates a problem for us; it makes it difficult to stuff all the things that we want *and* can now afford into the growing , but increasingly relatively much more limited , time that we have available to purchase and to enjoy them over our lifetimes.”
His  counter-intuitive point is that because we have more dollars per minute of life than our grandparents did, time has become scarcer, it has become more valuable.
What can we do to spend and appreciate our time more sensibly?
His conclusions deal mainly with the great difficulty of imposing government policies on work time in the USA and the limited incremental changes that might be imposed without having the opposite effect to the one intended. This is for wonks only.
At the personal level, which is all you’re able to actually effect immediately here’s what he recommends: Exercise; Spend more time doing genuinely relaxing activities such as taking an un-rushed bath; Impose routines that protect your less stressful non-work activities from being invaded by work such as imposing a “no work” rule between 9pm and 6am (He’s American…who works at 6am?!); A few times a week walk to work if you live within 3 miles of the workplace, Make an extra effort to spend some time with friends or family, Try to slow down a bit during your non-work activities (eating, preparing food, cleaning up after meals….keep it relaxed).
Time to go. I have to be the other side of town as soon as I put my shoes on.

I read: Spending Time

By: Daniel Hamermesh
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