The biggest myth is that profit is the highest achievement in life. To profit you have to be productive.
Time management trainings usually start with the premise that there’s something wrong with you because you can’t conform to social expectations. Never fear, though, because you can be fixed. Get organized, quit procrastinating, and cut out distractions. Whatever the solution it’s all about you. It’s never about how there might be something wrong with expectations about how we should structure our lives to be “productive”. It’s never about questioning ideas about productivity. Or, for that matter, questioning mainstream society’s myths about time.
Contrary to what we are socialized (or colonized) to believe, time does not move consistently forward in a straight line. Physicists tell us what it seems many pre-colonial civilizations already knew: that time can change speed, bend, and even reverse itself. But you don’t need to understand long, mathematical equations to establish a peaceful relationship with time. All you have to do is pay attention to the world around and within you.
If you think about how your ancestors measured time you’ll find that ideas about circularity and cycles are core. The day/night cycle is an example. Moon cycles, seasonal cycles, the movements of stars in the sky, the rising and falling of waters, repetitive patterns in the behaviours of plants and animals—these were crucial to marking the passage of time and helped people organize activities like planting, harvesting, hunting, fishing, etc. Environmental rhythms also informed accompanying ceremonial practices.
Looking inward we find the same cycles, patterns, and rhythms occur. Breathing, blood circulation, sleep—they are all circular, rhythmic in nature. A woman’s moon cycle, the cycles of pregnancy and birth, our life cycles—all circular patterns. In pre-colonial cultures internal biorhythms determined the timing around rites of passage and how people shifted the roles they played in community. Wellbeing was defined by body rhythms appropriately in sync with those of the environment, including Our Relations.
There is very little in mainstream society that recognizes or aligns with natural rhythms, be they those of the cosmos, Mother Earth, or your own body. To many it feels as though leading a healthy, responsible life is about ignoring, fighting, and even disrupting natural cycles. It’s as though you should be at war with your body whenever it wants to sleep, slow down or take time to renew. We drink caffeine to stay awake when our body wants to sleep, take pills to sleep when our body is alert, and deny ourselves rest when we get sick. Worse, we are told to admire people who can do it all better than we can.
Why? Partly because we are taught too many myths about how to “manage” time. The biggest myth is that profit is the highest achievement in life. To profit you have to be productive. To be productive you have to work. Another myth is that the way to get more done is to work longer, harder and faster.
New science and old wisdom are beginning to agree on how unhelpful these notions are. The conclusion is that learning about, respecting and accommodating natural rhythms will not only make us happier and healthier but more creative, intelligent and productive. For example, employing strategic work/rest cycles throughout the day will allow you to get more done, stay sharp and feel energized. The goal is less about profit and more about enjoying life.