How many times a week do you think,"There aren't enough hours in the day!"?
Many people who work long hours fanatically pursue time-management methods to take care of all of their pending issues in the least amount of time possible.
The excessive rationalization and planning of chronological time, understood from a technical perspective, has led us to accelerate all the aspects of our life, forgetting that there are things that can’t be sped up without affecting their quality.
One example is the gratification a person feels because he can send thousands of people a greeting card or a standardized letter simultaneously online. But it will never be the same as a unique letter written in a personal way to just one recipient.
Although we may have the illusion that we personalized something because we put the person’s name on it, if it’s a mass mailing, everyone knows that it’s generic — and it loses value for that same reason. We get to more people in less time, but how do we get there?
We cannot reach the same level of human relationship or depth if we speed up the means of communication. If we want to get to the truth of the other person, we need time.
The paradox of the technical progress and the lack of time
For some time now, our homes have had an endless supply of appliances and devices that have allowed us to do a lot of work in less time. It goes from the microwave, dishwasher, and washing machine to the speed with which we can handle things through our phone and its applications.
The products we consume already come ready to eat. You can even buy peeled fruit and pre-washed vegetables!
All of this should make us think that we have a lot more time than our grandparents to do “more important” things. But it seems like it’s completely the opposite. No one has time for anything. Why this paradox?
What has happened to make us live such fast-paced lives?
What is happening, although it may seem strange, is that the acceleration and saving of time does not fix our problem of having “no time.” On the contrary, it’s the primary cause of the problem. By trying to use technology to increase our productivity, we automatically transfer that “productive” gaze onto people. But it doesn’t work.
Human beings are not a machine that has to be perfected to accelerate indefinitely and thus become more productive.
As human beings, we have affective and social needs, and we have our own speeds that don’t work in an accelerated mode. We just can’t.
Competence, skill, and the demand of performance and productivity are imposed like absolute values on all areas of life, and that leads to a generalized tiredness and the loss of quality of life.
It has become a value to do things faster and faster. And after, they sell us “seminars to learn time management.”
Since we can’t question that productive mentality, we accept that the problem is that the person doesn’t know how to manage his time, when in reality the problem is the dominant mentality that makes us unable to enjoy life.
We don’t have time?
The pressure of the “lack of time” causes great anxiety because of the way we live. But in reality, we aren’t short on time, because we live in time. What we are missing is “time for” or rather, we’re short on time to do an endless list of “pendings” that are always weighing on our minds.
There is always time, and we have it throughout all our life. But it can seem like a scarcity when we subject it to a reductionist and economic point of view, when we use it for productive ends.
The problem is freedom of choice. Endless possibilities become a problem when we want to do too many things, or rather when we want to do more than what is really possible.
We are offered so many options that we couldn’t do all of them in a lifetime, so we have to choose, which always means giving up something, since we can’t do everything.
A necessary learning experience
Many people want calm and peace, but when tranquility comes, they can’t stand it. This is because we have lost the art of stopping and living in the moment.
We have forgotten pure gratuity, being for the sake of being, “not doing anything.” We see a lot of people go camping or to the beach to “rest,” but they can’t turn off their cell phones or tablets.
Whatever we don’t use, we lose. So we need to re-learn the art of pausing, of contemplating, of entering into silence, into ourselves, and rediscovering the little things of life, the wisdom of living in depth in daily life.
This doesn’t mean we have to do everything more slowly, but we have to do things with more awareness and freedom, not losing the perspective or the meaning of what we’re doing.
If we learn to do things with more awareness, with all our attention in the present moment, then rushing and anxiety will disappear.
And make the most of the times when we can slow down, because these are opportunities for interior growth and learning.
The lack of hope in the hearts of many people is due to their inability to wait; they just get impatient. Those who know that everything has its proper time will know how to wait and will not lose hope.
This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.