an instrument for measuring time
Hi, I'm Nicole! Welcome to Hourglass, a blog focused on finding answers to one deceptively simple question:
what does it mean to use our time well?
I'm doing a bit of a research project, hoping to answer that question through case studies and interviews, reviewing books or blogs or podcasts, and experiments on myself, and by looking at it from a few different angles, like productivity, philosophy, creativity, and mental health, with a feminist twist.
How can we control our time better?
When you think about managing time, you usually think of things like productivity blogs, articles and books full of excellent tips on things like inbox zero-ing, calendar hacks, and kanban boards.
We'll get into some of that stuff, but from a bit of a different angle.
Most productivity literature is really, well...capitalist. And patriarchal. It's about living up to the impossible demands of ineffective managers, about functioning like an industrial widget in a knowledge economy, about achieving "success" in the professional sense by increasing productive output (and then hopefully still going to the gym and seeing your family sometimes). And most of the time, the point of doing stuff faster is just...being able to do more stuff. It's a capitalist function, not a humanist one.
I want to explore the world of humanist, feminist, intersectional productivity: how to keep control of your time once you've cleared it up--instead of handing it directly back to your boss, why traditionally unpaid or low-paid tasks (like care, emotional labor and homemaking) have value and why we can't just automate them away, why the mainstream understanding of productivity in the capitalist economy is inherently racist, classist, sexist, and violent toward people in marginalized communities, and why it might make sense to spend more time on certain tasks instead of rushing through or automating them.
Don't worry--I'm still a time management and work automation junkie, so we'll talk about that stuff too :) But the main purpose here is to explore and define a more artful, more human, and more feminist version of productivity, with the intent of managing our time to create a better and more equal world.
What are we using our time on earth for?
It's one thing to manage our time day-to-day. Figuring out what to do with our time on earth, how to use our precious lives well...that's something else entirely.
But before we dive into philosophy, let's get one thing straight. The bulk of philosophy is--let's face it--pretty inaccessible. Yes, sure, there is a lot of beautiful thinking on how and why to live our lives in certain ways, but its locked up in endless sentences and pretentious words and stuck inside academic fortresses. And if you get past all of that, there's still the classist/sexist/racist issues: most famous philosophy voices are powerful white men with limited and privileged worldviews; their pronouns and stories are overwhelmingly male-dominated; and some of the language is straight up plain offensive.
Despite all that, there's still some good stuff. So this blog will include analysis of famous philosophers from a current and intersectional lens, and I'm going to specifically represent philosophical perspectives from POC and womxn. This will also include plenty of people who aren't philosophers in the academic sense, but whose wisdom is eternal and human: poets, musicians, artists, activists, etc.
How can we make time choices that prioritize mental wellness?
If you know me, you know I love talking about mental health.
Discussions of philosophy and mental health are closely linked: both help us understand ourselves and the world around us, but in different ways. They complement each other: where philosophy is universal, your mental health is personal. Examining your mental health means getting into the details, the specialized combination of experiences, genetics, emotions, patterns and abilities that make you, you. To live a good and fulfilling life, spending time on priorities that make sense, you first have to understand yourself. The world of mental health gives us the tools to do that.
This blog is interested in examining how mental health tools and resources can help us use our time better. This includes mainstream tools like therapy and medication as well other mental wellness and self-care practices like journaling, daily rituals, communication strategies, diet and exercise, personal expression through style, creation a restorative home environment, and more.
We're also going to look at the stigmas and side effects of mental health management and emotional labor, and how those play out in the patriarchal world we live in--and how all of that could be improved.
How can we use our time reach our potential?
"I wish I had more time to just...be creative."
We've all heard someone say it. We've all said it ourselves. Between email, laundry, errands, chores, vacations, kids, catching up with friends, visiting family, returning text messages, showers, cooking and just collapsing on the couch, it's hard to make time for creatitivity--even when we know we need it.
Choosing priorities means losing some things and gaining others, and creativity is one area that often gets the ax when there are more urgent things to do. It's especially hard because creative work usually requires long uninterrupted stretches of time--which are next to impossible to find much of the time. But we know that playing, thinking, and creating things from the deep and honest places within our souls is restorative, energizing, satisfying, and fun. We all know we need more of it. We just don't know how to make it happen for ourselves.
This is an area that is just chock full of guilt for many people. If we don't prioritize creativity, we feel guilt that we are wasting our gifts and our potential. But if we do make time for it, there is guilt for prioritizing creativity when there are other people expecting things from us.
I'm going to talk to a bunch of super creative people to figure out how they manage all this: what they need to do their best creative work, how they create time and environments and communication strategies that make it possible, and how they deal with feelings of guilt surrounding their choices.
And bonus: we'll get to see lots of their creative work too :)
That's it! Mission (statement) accomplished.
If you've read this far, thank you. I'm grateful to have you on this journey with me, and I hope to make this project valuable for you.
If you have thoughts and ideas for content or just want to stay updated, please sign up for my mailing list! I'll be sharing new posts, resources and calls for contributions as we go along.
For now: let's toast to time well spent. <3