Tag Archive: time

Col7_TimePerhaps the second most written about topic, next to love, is time. Our culture abounds with clichés, idiomatic expressions (and song titles!) about the passing of the hour: time after time, third time’s the charm, let’s make up for lost time…the list goes on. The irony of this of course is the fact that few of us are masters at “keeping to the clock” (unless of course the activity in which we’re engaged is a necessary evil such as work!).

Now it goes without saying, we all sometimes need (and more importantly, deserve) a “time out”. Me personally? I relish in “not-showering-staying-in-my-pjs-all-day” kind of days. Undoubtedly, the value of such lies in their infrequency (ie: it’s not exactly like we can afford to relegate ourselves to our flannels whenever we see fit). All of this brings me naturally to the question of “how do YOU spend YOUR time?” 

A few months ago, you may remember The Interrobang (this here fantastic student-run publication to which your attention is currently glued) elected to run a readership survey in order to derive valuable feedback in terms of its strong points and suggested areas of improvement. While you, the audience, by and large, ranked our content satisfactorily, it would seem you were displeased with our allowable word counts. In other words, you feel us writers are simply too verbose (myself included)!

Now admittedly when I was pursuing academic studies myself (and believe me I got my fair share after six years straight!), there was only so much written textbook doctrine I could stomach on a daily basis. In order to get through the copious amount of assigned readings each month, I’d pace myself by powering through one to three (at max) chapters a night, taking 30 minute breaks in between to ensure I properly digested the material before moving forward. Given the time I was expected to devote to the written word, there was a LOW likelihood you would find me cracking open a novel just for kicks during my time off. To make a long story short, I do empathize with your situation.

However (and yes you knew this was coming), it’s becoming increasingly difficult to relate to a so-called “lack of time” to engage in thoughtful contemplation and information acquisition -something that could easily be accomplished by reading one of the fine articles in our paper – purported by not just students, but the populous in general, when it would seem that countless hours are devoted to the “art of time suckage” whether it be via following the drama-rama on Facebook, listing your ever-so-exciting grocery shopping experiences on Twitter or being one of the million people addicted to NicePeter’s “Epic Rap Battles of History”.

Again, let me be clear: I don’t have a beef with any of the above nor do I find fault in the concept of “vegging out”. My issue is when the aforementioned activities are PRIORITIZED above meaningful personal or social engagements and then somehow dismissed as “un-time-consuming” when one is struggling to come up with a valid list of excuses as to why their essay was not submitted by the deadline yet again or their work is falling short of expectations. Put more plainly, people – please – get your shit in gear! This of course, is easier for some than others.

As psych research has demonstrated, one of the “Big Five” individual tendencies you’re either born with or without is “conscientiousness”, defined as: “a fundamental personality trait that influences whether people set and keep long-range goals, deliberate over choices or behave impulsively, and take seriously obligations to others,” (Psychology Today: Psych Basics).

Of important note, “conscientiousness” has been positively correlated with a whole range of pro-social behaviours and desirable life outcomes including: academic and/or occupational excellence, longevity of life and overall strong health, marital stability, diminished or lack of substance use, stable mental condition and lower incidence of criminal activity (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; Journal of Personality; Psychological Bulletin). Suffice it to say, time management pays off!

Just because you inherited your parents’ “walk on the impulsive” side of life attributes however doesn’t mean you’re justified in being ripe with constant excuses. Conscientiousness can be learned and instilled in your routine, but first it’s a matter of identifying the wormholes in your world.

With this in mind, this month’s advice transverses beyond simple “written instruction” to “active participation”: I urge all of you caught up in the “there’s never enough time” mentality to track your time allotment of each of your daily activities in a journal for a period of one month (ie: Mon: 8 hours sleep, 2 hours studying, 1 hour for dinner and tv, Tues: 6 hours sleep, 5 hours doing homework etc).

Following the month’s end, review the areas to which you’ve devoted the most hours and see where adjustments can be made. I assure you you’ll be surprised with just how much more “productive” time you’ll be able to find by cutting out (or least cutting down) the hours you “waste” on activities that, in essence, don’t propel you further in any capacity.

Ah but therein lies the rub: if you have no goals toward which you’re working, time proves irrelevant and… unlimited. I’m gonna hazard a guess though that as fellow academics (that are likely studying to pursue career dreams) the previous statement fails to apply.

Col6_CleanHouseA couple of years ago, my significant other and I were making our initial “introductory rounds” (ie: meeting each other’s family for the first time) and decided, while we were in the neighbourhood, to drop in on one of his couples friends. While the pair was/is lovely and we got along just swimmingly, there’s no lighter way to phrase it: I was appalled by the state in which they kept their living quarters.

In their defense, I will say they were not expecting our company. However, I could not then and still cannot now understand how anyone could possibly tolerate living with clearly visible dirt and debris. The icing on the cake was the fact that their house had seen such neglect from upkeep that one of their children’s pets – a goldfish – was floating bellyside up in a fish bowl, apparently unbeknownst to them.

After this incident, it began to come to my attention just how UNcommon this situation among our demographic is. The more I got invited over to my own friends’ houses, the more I realized that tidiness does not seem to be a universally embraced ideal.

At the risk of sounding like a germaphobe, admittedly I was and continue to be shocked by this notion given that I’m frankly embarrassed to invite over company if my home has not been cleaned the week of. Furthermore if my mom, for instance, is coming to town, I will clean every inch of my apartment so thoroughly that it’d be fit for the arrival of the Queen herself and should she so choose, she could eat off the floors without any fear of adverse physical reaction!

Aside from the obvious health benefits to living in a “dust bunny”-free environment, how one maintains or fails to maintain one’s personal habitat will affect how others view your character and even your sense of morality! Did you know, for example, that the original Oxford English Dictionary definition of the term “slut” was “a slovenly, untidy woman or girl”?

According to environmental psychologist Sally Augustin, “cleanliness”, throughout our evolutionary history, was considered a valued trait given that a home free of clutter would make it easier to spot potential predator attacks. While this benefit may no longer be applicable in modern society, it does have an unconscious psychological holdover: when one enters a messy living space – whether it’s their own or you’re a visitor – it results in enhanced stress levels.

A lack of upkeep in regard to one’s physicality and/or the physical spaces he/she occupies too has been linked to the mood disorder depression. Among other symptoms, depression has been known to have a debilitating effect on many of one’s motivations. With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that counsellors often recommend “cleaning house” as a means of elevating one’s mood. After all, the messier one’s house gets, the more it adds to one’s guilt and merely continues the cycle of “not-good-enough-ness”.

As Jennifer B. Baxt explains, “taking the time to clean the home from top to bottom is like cleaning [out] one’s life. The dirt, dust and clutter are done away with and the house has a fresher, more comfortable atmosphere that the person can feel happier and more relaxed in.”

To this, Ayanna Guyhto adds that it’s the whole concept of “Idle Hands, Idle Mind”: “by remaining sedentary, it gives your brain too much time to focus on the things that are bothering you. By getting up and focusing your attention on household tasks, you give yourself a mental diversion.”

Let’s just stop there for a second however to make one point very clear: it’s highly unreasonable to suggest (and by no means am I suggesting!) that EVERY individual who seemingly is not too concerned with the condition of their home is suffering from the “Big D”. Clearly there must be something else here at play. Wouldn’t you know it? Psychology again proves illustrative.

Believe it or not laziness is a modern “invention”, largely due to the comforts (and excesses!) of Western industrialized living. Despite our incessant complaints and excuses which would suggest otherwise, apparently we do have TOO much time on our hands and this, in effect results in the rearing of laziness’ ugly twin brother’s head: procrastination.

As evolutionary psychologist Nando Pelusi points out, it wasn’t until we no longer had to worry about constantly fending off predators, protecting our kin or surviving off of scarce resources that we had the “luxury” of dreaming of future actions. In the past, we held our energy in reserve because we never knew when an immediate threat may be looming. Nowadays, all that energy has the ability to build up, tricking us into believing (at least on an unconscious level) that there will always be more time to “get around to things.”

Given the multitude of distractions available to occupy our time – the Facebooks, Twitters, and Youtubes of the world, for starters – it isn’t hard to see why so many of us have lost sight of how to properly “prioritize”…but more on that in another issue.

The point I’m trying to get at is quite simply: while “cleanliness” may not necessarily be next to “godliness”, it certainly is linked to “goodliness”…on many levels. In other words, my “neat-freakness” is indicative of the fact I take great pride in appearances, value the idea of hospitality, see my home as a reflection of my own work ethic, and perhaps most importantly that I am within a balanced mental state. So I ask you all to ask yourselves, “what does YOUR home say about YOU?” Is it time for yet more introspection? Methinks so.