(although I’m not too sure what we can do about it)
Time is divided: it’s split up into days, and hours, and minutes, none of which are as arbitrary as most human inventions, considering the Earth does take a fixed amount of time to revolve around the Sun, and rotate. But instead of our lives being structured around time, our lives are structured around events that take up time, meaning that ‘spending time’ on a thing can be a pretty flexible idea.
For instance, when I’m working over a weekend, I will divide my day into three broad areas: morning (between breakfast and lunch), afternoon (between lunch and tea) and evening (between tea and bed), and while these division appear to be based on time – one is called ‘after’ ‘noon’ for God’s sake – they are often based on how much work I get done in those sessions: the morning session can take two hours, if I’m practising a two-hour paper, and the afternoon one can take four, if I’m making notes, even though nominally, they occupy similar twelve-hour periods of the day.
This has obvious advantages, as it allows us to be flexible with our lives – if a task takes three hours, it’s much easier to complete if lunch is at Whatever The Hell You Want o’clock, rather than a set time – but I fear that this flexibility has become too ingrained in my life. Essentially, I believe that every completed task, regardless of how much time it took to complete, should being a new segment of the day, simply because I’m so task-, rather than time-oriented.
For instance, I sent someone a message this morning, went for a run, and came back, aghast that they had not replied to me; I’d run, got home, done a blood test and had a bath, so surely a new part of the day has begun, and this person has now gone a whole session of the day without replying to my message!
In actuality, about 45 minutes had passed between the sending of the message and the ending of the bath, meaning that I got upset that, out of a 24-hour day, someone hadn’t replied to me within 45 minutes. And it was a morning in summer, so I shouldn’t really expect other teenagers to be awake at that point.
Equally, I can easily lose track of time because I assume that an ‘appropriate’ length of time spent doing a thing is however long it takes to complete, because my day is broken up based on task, not duration. This helps with studying, as I can work for several hours without thinking I’ve gone overboard, but can also result in staying up until one in the morning playing Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and not realising it, because I’m still in the same ‘session’ as I was six hours ago when I first started playing.
And this is all a problem because time is universal; I need to structure my life, at least in part, on time because other people accept that as a valid means of keeping track of events – I have to go to bed before midnight if I have somewhere to be the next morning, regardless of whether I’ve finished a session of gaming or not.
The problem is, then, that I would like to live on a goal-oriented system of doing things, but this will never work on a larger scale: everyone has different things to do, and different speeds at which they do them – the outcome would be me turning up to a job interview a week late because we agreed to have the interview ten sessions ago, and my sessions take much longer than the interviewer’s to complete for whatever reason.
The solution, therefore, is to listen to time, and respect the boundaries that it sets up, otherwise you’ll end up living like recluse, with more sophisticated means of measuring time than relationships with other people. After all, the five-day working week and 9-to-5 schedule must exist for a reason, right?