I am extremely efficient and organized. I am very “productive”. What is the value of those things? It is to provide me with more time.
Time is the most finite resource we have. It’s more finite than money (hell we can print more of that if we need to), love, and anything else you can imagine. What’s more, you never know how much of it you actually have.
I am not productive because I want to accomplish more. I am productive because I want more time. I want more time because it is infinitely valuable. I don’t want my days to be filled with commitments and activities that don’t have meaning for me. Nothing makes me angrier than someone else’s lack of consideration for my time.
You cannot put time in your hand and feel it. It’s abstract and therefore very easy to “spend” without realizing it. When you’re on your death bed you will not look back and wish you had more money. You will simply wish you had more time. Spend today valuing it appropriately.
“Wealth is not happiness nor is swimming pools and villas. Nor is great work alone reward, or fame. Foreign places visited themselves give nothing. It is only you who bring to the places your heart, or in your great work feeling, or in your large house place. If you do this there is happiness.”
You will not find an electric can opener in my home. It’s not because I have a particular hatred of electric can openers. It’s because that small gesture is a constant reminder that doing the work of life is not a bad thing.
I am not against technology or improvements in productivity or modern advancements. I do believe, however, that the trajectory of most innovation in the world is towards more thinking and less doing. While in and of itself this is not a bad thing, it is a dangerous thing.
The basic goal of almost all advancement in convenience is to save us time. The question is really what are we going to do with more time? Are we going to use it to do more or think more? Sometimes I feel as if every new development is taking away the doing and allowing more time for thinking. Convenience has become the enemy of doing.
I have to remind myself everyday that mindfully doing the small everyday tasks of life are more beneficial to my mental health than taking the convenience route and getting them over with so I can think more about everything else.
I first heard the term work of life while watching the Hatfields & McCoys on the History Channel in 2012. Kevin Costner (‘Devil’ Anse Hatfield) made reference to the work of life in talking about getting back to basics of everyday living during the war between the feuding families. At the time I didn’t pay much attention to the phrase but it’s kind of stuck in my mind.
What exactly is the work of life? If you Google the phrase you won’t find much in the way of discussion about it. I simply take it to mean all of the daily tasks and chores we must perform in order to simply survive. Things like cooking, cleaning, maintaining our homes, etc. Of course, the types of things included in the work of life in the 1800s is dramatically different than the work of life in the 2000s.
The reason this is relevant to my philosophy of life is pretty simple. Modern day conveniences are slowly removing the need to do the work of life. In times past the work of life was difficult and time consuming but at the end of the day we felt peace and fulfillment over a job well done. With each passing year improvements in technology and advancements in convenience are creating a world where we have to do less and think more. That may sound great on the surface but is it really?