The Rule Of Days

(credit, once again, to my Mum)

This is a rule that has existed as long as our species has attempted to understand and codify time as a concept: that, inevitably, if you have things to do, they will all fall on the same day. Right now, for instance, there are two England rugby matches I’ll watch today (the Men’s at 5 on BBC One, and the Women’s at 7:50 on Sky Sports 3, both playing against France), and there’s the Superbowl tomorrow night; therefore, I have a 2,0o0-word piece of History coursework due in on Monday.

Although I’m not daunted by the scale or necessity of this work (even though my writing of this post at half ten in the morning would suggest a pathetic attempt to compensate for my over-sleeping and generate more time in the afternoon for working), it is slightly stressful to know that you have things to do, especially if some of them are compulsory, while others are enjoyable.

I feel that often, our judgement of the necessity of work is clouded by how much we enjoy it – we’ll justify that we have to watch those rugby games today because everyone else will, and I want to talk to them about it, while that History coursework could be written tomorrow, right? This is dangerous, specifically because then I’ll just say the same thing about the Superbowl tomorrow and end up writing the damn thing on Monday morning.

Ultimately, ‘necessity’ is a binary characteristic: things either have to be done, or they do not; I’ve found myself subjectively judging the necessity of things in the past, almost putting their importance on a scale from 1 to 10, and when these judgements are made, you’ll probably never get anything done: this judgement will be undermined by your preference of the things you are judging – a piece of homework that you give a 6 to won’t get finished if there’s a sports game on that’s a 5 on the scale, because you’ll prefer to do the latter.

Furthermore, if you think about these judgements, you’ll realise the problems with assigning importance based on subjectivity: you could use warped logic, and argue that there’s no point in doing this homework, because you might give it a 6, but the teacher might give it a 1, so you might as well not do it at all. Then, you start second-guessing yourself, and start basing your decisions around not what others tell you is important, but what you think they would judge to be important, decisions you will inevitably get wrong because no-one knows another human being that well.

And these flaws are often subconscious: I’ve only started putting this theory together after looking back at my exam failures in year 10; in wondering why I flopped so hard I had to resit all of those exams, I have looked at decisions where I went to the Cinema a week before my exams instead of revising, and it would appear that I judged the fun and necessity of the cinema as being collectively greater than the singular necessity of having to revise.

The obvious way to get around these problems is to replace the scale of ten with a scale of one: things are either necessary, or they are not. This can make life much more productive, and much easier: I can write every day because I have determined that updating this blog is necessary (perhaps at the expense of poor writing and crappy ideas), and I will therefore make time for it. It’s the same for reading Purgatory as I’m doing now, for going running, and for the extra Geography revision I’m starting in preparation for Summer. And everything else in my life, things that I really enjoy doing, are therefore not necessary: playing Football Manager, watching YouTube and spending four hours getting lost in the Battlestar Galactica Wiki are all fun, but not necessary, and so not done so regularly.

You can push this too far, however: I started writing a novel a few weeks ago, and deemed that to be ‘necessary’ in addition to all the other stuff I do every day, but this was one activity too far. I love writing it, and think it is very constructive, but it has been relegated to the ‘unnecessary but fun’ category of those other things as I simply couldn’t write 1,000 words of any quality at nine in the evening every day. As a result, I’ve sadly not worked on it in about a week.

So although I want these rugby games to be necessary, and I really want to watch them, they are not necessary; if push comes to shove, as it often does as part of The Rule Of Days, I’ll just have to work through with my coursework, and find time to read and run, like I do every other day.

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