[M.M.X.I.V. 62] Is time really the enemy?

This is a response to a column in the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday section on April 28, 2013.  As in my other response blogs, I’ll summarize the article, and then write my response to it.

============= Summary ================

The author, Heidi Stevens, leaves the hook of the difference between an ideal way to spend a Saturday morning and how it actually goes.  Realizing that time is finite, you can think of it as a renewable resource, but it will eventually run out nonetheless.

She became more aware of the finiteness of time after suffering from meningitis and complications thereof, and also appreciation of what we have.  However, in today’s busy world, finding time for enjoyment with friends ends up being a Herculean task.  She cites the book “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think” in which the basic premise is that you probably have about 60 non-work, non-sleep hours in a week.

The article suggests building friend time into activities that you were planning on doing anyway, rather than creating a new activity.  For example, spending time with a friend when running an errand, or sharing gym time, or making a regular dinner date.

And, the use of language is important: the phrase “I don’t have time for X, Y, or Z” is often used, when really what is meant is “I don’t make time for X, Y, or Z.”


After re-reading this column, there were quite a few things that I wanted to respond to.

I have posted on my blog before about my use of time, how I tend to have a bazillion things going on in each day.  Yet, I still have enough time to sleep sufficiently each night, and somehow avoid burning out.  Granted, this is not always involving planned time with friends, but many of my friends appear at places that I would be going anyway, whether that be sporting events, card clubs, or Hillel.

The latter, especially.  Friday nights are my time to unwind, unplug, and connect while I am at Hillel, and make legitimate conversation and connections.  No matter how difficult my week (or even my Friday) has gone, I always make time for the services at Hillel during the school year.  (Granted, sometimes during the summer it is difficult for me to find a place to go to services…)

The whole “defeated shrug” that is mentioned a few times in the column is the way that people often feel, and honestly I sometimes feel that way.  This last week, in particular, I felt that I had a lot on my shoulders, between preparing a guest lecture for Math 234, documents for the Teaching Certificate Program, complications with my lost-wallet incident last month, and my regular activities.  However, I had plenty of time to do everything, but chose to make time for only the essentials.

The idea of time as a renewable resource is an interesting analogy.  In some sense it is true, but on the other hand, it goes in only one direction.  Sometimes, though, I feel like it has been renewed once I finish a major time drain or stressor.  I felt a lot of weight come off me after I got through last week.

In some sense, the part when she mentioned housework reminds me of my reluctance to do academic work outside of “ordinary business hours.”  In general, I feel that people work too long but not hard enough–more hours does not necessarily mean more productivity.  In fact, due to the limits of attention spans, I strongly believe that there is a diminishing-returns law on productivity versus time spent working.

It is very interesting how she mentions that if you take the perspective “I don’t make time for friends,” you might look at your scheduling to see all of the THINGS that you do make time for.  For me, those sometimes DO go hand-in-hand.  But, there is definitely something about the “date night” or the “night out” that I have not really explored.  It might be fun!

All in all, it gets back to the point of genuine human contact, which seems to be hard to make yourself do, but is a necessary thing to avoid problems later.


Today is the sixty-second day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes eight weeks and six days.


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