A source of personal stress is the idea that we must extract productivity from every literal minute of our day. So much so, that we're often governed more by the minute hand on our watches than we are the hours. Our lives are run by the happenings of mere minutes, and because we're so immersed in the concept, we don't question the possibility of trying to manage the time in our lives any other way.

This month, or for as long as I can stand, I'm going to attempt to remove the concept of minutes from my life, and in turn I hypothesize that I will gain hours.

While it's possible, or even probable, that I simply have bad time management habits, my typical day seems like a non-stop flow: dropping off the kids, taking care of to-dos, handling an unexpected crisis, getting the kids to dance, then bathed at home, eat, read bedtime stories, and then repeat ad nauseam.

An example of Chris' computer desktop where the normal system clock is replaced with a clock which only displays the day of the week and the current hour; no minute information.
Doing it differently: Living by the hour, instead of by the minute.

This seems to happen every day: I catch myself repeating the same mistake over and over: I'll make a run on a task, like writing here, or work on our other ventures until it butts up against the last possible minute that I'll need before I have to go pick up the girls, which will also run up to the last possible minute before we need to get home. What's that classic definition of insanity again? Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results?

So here's what I've done: I geeked out and installed NerdTool, a Mac application which allows users to superimpose custom data onto their desktop environments. I configured it to simply display only the day of the week (Monday, Tuesday, etc – for reasons similar to this post) and the current hour of the day, as in the photo above. The minutes of this clock do not increment; only the hour increments. For example, I started writing this very post sometime during 0200 local time. I had some other tasks to accomplish sometime around 0330, so at 0300 I stopped writing and went to accomplish that other task. I got back to my desk around 0700 and have been here for who knows how long. I do know that I'm going to take a nap at 0800, whether or not this article is complete, and I should be able to get it done shortly afterward.

I do presently find myself near compulsively checking my new clock to see if the hour has changed, but I feel a lot of that is just carryover from being used to seeing the minutes tick over. My brain isn't getting the satisfaction of seeing the change, so like a pigeon hits the button for food, I keep unconsciously looking to see if the hour has updated. It will wear off.

Even with actual, real-world deadlines, I feel this concept can work. It will take some adjustment and getting-used-to, certainly. Mostly I'll have to just get used to arriving to places a little earlier. Our current time-management concept is mostly a matter of habit and ritual, anyway. This would be no different.

Ultimately, by denying myself the additional information of minutes, I'll be effectively forced to change activities far earlier than I otherwise would have. The side effects are that I'll get to where I need to be in advance of when I need to be there. Rather than working on things to the last minute, I'll work on them to the last hour. And since I'll no longer be occupied 99% of the time, I'll now literally have spare time; time that I intend to spend simply watching my children, enjoying their company, and answering the questions.


Photo by Aron Visuals via Unsplash