Attention-Management rather than Time-Management

(Note: I first came across this idea from Justin Sung)

Time is constitutive of Beings, Heidegger taught us. But such time is not the one that is measured by the moving of clock, or represented by the numbers on the top right of one’s laptop. Such is the problem of traditional time-management, which divides one’s entire day into pre-existing “blocks” of time dedicated to different tasks. This is useless, as such division does not correspond to the reality of how we act in the world. To “Time-Manage” is to put a bird inside a cage, stopping it from flying. “Attention-Manage”, on the other hand, is to teach the bird how to fly.

Attention is the very substance of time. It is that which discloses things, allowing them to be perceived and to change, and it is that which locks into entities, enabling the human body to transform it into an equipment for its use. It is the medium from which the person reciprocally interacts with the world. Our attention is the directing towards the future that constitutes half of our spatial horizons.

The state we wish to achieve is not to fill our day with tasks, but with things worthy of us paying attention to, and pay attention to them. Instead of saying that I should go through 100 pages of textbook, we should rather think about paying attentive and engaging in the process of connecting and assimilating knowledge. Rather than thinking that I should practice 1 hour of piano, a better way may be to be maximally attentive to the process of playing for as long as I can. What we want to train is not the ability to work/study for 100 hours a week, but to be maximally attentive whenever we are engaging in an activity.

Keep this question in mind: “What am I paying attention to?”. Then, “How attentive am I?”, and, “What, in the best of all possible worlds, will I pay attention to?” One’s time will, then, be managed. For time is subsidiary to attention.

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