How do we make more time for more things?
We should think of time like a balloon.
The answer is simple: I do not have the time. But while time is a finite resource, it is also more flexible than you think.
For example, are you familiar with Parkinson’s Law? It’s an adage that states: “Work expands to fit the time available.”
If your deadline is in a month, a project will take you a month. If your deadline is in a week, the same project will take a week. We’ve all done it. Parkinson’s Law!
How does this happen? The answer has less to do with the work, and more to do with literally everything else. We tolerate inefficiencies when we’re not under pressure, and we create efficiencies when we’re forced to. We check Twitter too often when we’re relaxed, and we forget Twitter exists when we’re busy.
We are, in effect, making time for one thing by changing everything else.
Time is created under pressure.
And this is why I think time is like a balloon.
Consider the limp balloon: It has great potential to expand, but it does not expand preemptively. The balloon does not grow as a way to make room for air. How would that even work!?
Instead, a balloon grows when air is blown in. Obviously.
Now consider our time: We often think of how busy we are, and then we say, “I don’t have the time for something new.” But what would it mean to “have the time”? Would it mean that you literally created an empty space in your schedule, like a balloon making room for air? If so, that will never happy. You will never have the time — because your time will always be filled with the things you’re already doing. (See: Parkinson’s Law.)
So what do you do instead? Much like a balloon, you create pressure.
Add something to your schedule, and then watch what happens to everything else on you do. At first, you will try to keep everything the same. Then you will feel stressed. Then, if you are like me, you will start to imagine yourself like a wooden boat where the planks are cracking. You will realize that this is unsustainable.
Then you will make hard choices. You will eliminate the activities that are enjoyable but ultimately unrewarding, and that take up more time than you realized. (Goodbye, reading random Internet articles!) You will reconsider how you execute valuable tasks — changing your processes, cutting out inefficiencies, weakening your grip on perfectionism. You might even start outsourcing some things.
By fitting something new into your finite time, you forced everything else to adapt. As a result, your balloon expanded — not because you had free space, but because of the pressure you added to an already-full load.
That’s more or less how I’m producing the new newsletter.
And it’s how you can do more too.
Finally: Is boredom good or bad?
Tech critics today say that we're never bored, and that's unhealthy. But people have spent thousands of years desperately trying to escape boredom, and even considered it a sin or disease. So should we really feel guilty every time we fill a dull moment with a screen?
In the new episode of my podcast, I dig into the surprisingly fascinating history of boredom — which once terrified America’s Founding Fathers and has long been a symbol of class and status — as well as the science of what boredom does to our brains.