Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Time efficiency

Recently, I received a Dutch article that translates like: the ones trying to live more efficiently, will lack time for anything. The solution is, however, quite simple: stop or silence smartphone notifications. Also see recent WSJ article: How fixing notifications changed my relationship with my phone.

Our obsession with time efficiency has increasingly resulted in thoughtless actions. We prefer to shoot first and ask questions later. This will benefit likes (eg, social media) and viewer ratings (eg, streaming media, TV). The cost (for society) may well be an increase in (social) polarization.

Recently, our government has started broadcasting public warnings on polarization (eg, RTL). Its message is: before you’ll know, you’ll lose each other. These messages are quite ironic as our government’s bias is also accountable and/or responsible for Dutch polarization (eg, climate, Covid).

Not too many years ago, society’s focus was on quality time (eg, work-life balance). Somehow, we went from quantity (ie, daylight hours) to quality (eg, family) to effectiveness (eg, tools like PDA) to efficiency (eg, 24/7 use of smartphones). People often got addicted in that process.

The main driver of that process (ie, from quantity to quality to effectiveness to efficiency) appears to be technology; especially the smartphone (eg, BlackBerry-1999, Nokia-2005, iPhone-2007). It’s telling that tech-execs are still focussing on quality time (eg, Independent-2017, BI-2020).

For some 10 years, I have stopped or silenced nearly all notifications on my smartphone. Moreover, I use the airplane mode to suspend all incoming data for some 10 hours. It gives me peace of mind and removes most distractions. In 2013-14, I needed this due to my burnout. Now, I believe in it.

While writing the previous sentence, it suddenly dawned upon me that the (alleged) burnout epidemic (eg, book-2021, HBR-2021, Guardian-2022, Forbes-2022), and our sleep disorders, may relate to our notion of time efficiency. Often, people reduce sleep to increase their daily efficiency or output.

A comparison with mass production would indicate that our notion of time management is wrong: quality control is the final step. Hence, proper time management would look like: (1) quantity (eg, maximum hours), (2) efficiency (eg, tools), (3) effectiveness (eg, priorities), and (4) quality (eg, work-life).

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.”

A quote by Paul J. Meyer (1928-2009), “a leading entrepreneur and unrelenting philanthropist” (source)

Time (Clock of the Heart) – 1982 – Culture Club
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-song

Ooh in time it could have been so much more
The time is precious I know
In time it could have been so much more
The time has nothing to show

Because time won’t give me time

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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