The study of time is one of the most powerful things you can do.
I’ve spent the last 8 years being obsessed with how time works. The more you learn about time the harder it gets to understand.
On the one hand life is long. On the other hand, compared to traveling through space to another galaxy, time is unbelievably short.
85 years of human life in galactic terms is two-tenths of bugger all.
These bizarre ideas about time can change how you think about hours, minutes, days and years forever.
The math on available time isn’t good
Genius Turner is a genius the way Einstein was. He opened my eyes to a new field called “life math.”
Most of us live 27,000 days. Genius says the Sleep-Tax Bill takes away one-third of that time and hands it to the grim reaper.
18,000 days are left.
8000 days get wasted on…
- Commuting to work
- Being at work
- Taking regular poops
What’s left is about 10,000 days of actual alive time. So 85 years is short.
The one crazy thing that makes time disappear
There are times when the human mind becomes at one with time.
Zach Pogrob taught me that obsession is when time disappears. When we’re obsessed we’ll do anything to complete the work.
We’ll spend every waking hour thinking about it. Even when we’re at work we’ll be side-tracked by an obsession. This is how I feel about writing. I can’t turn the writer brain off.
If you want time to disappear in a good way then get an obsession and chase it to the ends of the earth.
Habits can destroy time
James Clear would knife me in the brain if he heard me say this one. Soz.
Mr Money Moustache taught me that habits create convenience. But habits turn on autopilot mode in the brain, too. When this happens our brain’s hard disk doesn’t write as many new/meaningful memories.
The scary part my Mustachian friend says is that if you run solely on habits for too long, entire chunks of life will become individual thoughts.
Imagine your kid’s childhood becoming a handful of memories.
That’s what too many 9–5ers do when they work long hours for a dumb boss who’d happily replace them if they dropped dead tomorrow, and wouldn’t even attend their funeral.
Habits are best in moderation. Don’t automate your life away.
There are two types of time (and most people don’t know)
Ryan Holiday always makes me think of holidays. Damn legend.
His mentor Robert Greene taught him about Alive Time versus Dead Time. Many of us spend too much time stuck in dead time, being lazy, waiting for stuff to happen, and hoping good luck will bless our lives.
Alive time overshadows dead time. It’s when you decide to take life by the curly ones and be in control, make the hours mean something, commit to learning and improving, take risks, follow your curiosity and experiment.
Powerful question: Will today be alive time or dead time?
How to make 10 days feel like 10 months
A Vipassana retreat is where you spend ten whole days in silence with others who do the same.
Youtuber Nathaniel Drew went to one. He said that ten days felt like ten months. Tim Ferriss did a retreat too. He says the silence was incredibly hard to deal with. It just brings up so many strange memories to the surface.
Another friend of mine did a retreat in January. He said you wake up at 4 am, meditate, eat breakfast, meditate. Meditate some more. Drink some herbal tea. Eat lunch. Meditate. Dinner. Then meditate and go to bed.
A silent retreat makes ten days feel like ten months, but it also makes the next few years slow down because you can finally focus on what matters and quit being fooled by your mind to participate in dumb stuff.
I am going to do a silent retreat. You should too.
All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone — Blaise Pascal
The best moments in life can unfortunately speed up time
Many people report that our perception of time speeds up as we get older. Childhood felt like a slow-moving camel ride in comparison.
Dan Go went one step further. He says if you have kids time goes even faster. They go from chubby little balls of goo to uncute angry TikTok teenagers in a heartbeat.
As a father-to-be this scares the crap out of me.
Although when time speeds up for something you love, it feels like a win instead of a loss.
“Time management” has a huge limitation
Productivity greek gods love to preach time management.
They’re all stoic and cute when they drop time quotes on social media with their Marcus Aurelius profile pics.
Writer Lawrence Yeo opened my eyes.
He says “true exploration cannot exist within the bounds of time.” So all those time management preachers are limiting their imagination and sentencing their curiosity to a painful death.
I’ve found with my own creativity that it needs the freedom to flow out of me in its own time. If I try use a pomodoro timer to control it, it dies fast.
Some stretches of time need to be wasted so that every drop of creativity can get extracted.
A time rule to help upgrade your life
Time can work for or against you.
Productivity expert Shane Parrish suggests “staying away from anything that makes time work against you.”
Classic examples from my life include:
- Working solely for a salary — You trade time for money. The job keeps you just over broke.
- Consumerism — you trade time for stuff that steals your current time. What’s weird is many purchases also steal your future time through debt and buy now, pay later scams
- Arguing online — sarcastic idiots who are looking for free entertainment waste your time in exchange for a few minutes or hours to flex your ego and try to win their pointless arguments. No thanks.
The best way to enhance time is through:
- The law of compounding
- The law of leverage
The myth of free time
Free time gets a bad wrap.
If you have free time where I live (in Australia) we call you a bum. Or a lazy son of a gun. Productivity writer Sahil Bloom uses a finance concept to explain another way to look at free time.
In finance there are things called “call options.” They’re simply the right but not the obligation to buy a stock at a certain price.
Sahil says “free time is a call option on future interesting opportunities.”
When you have free time there’s a chance someone might offer you a cool opportunity. But when you’re a back-to-back meeting knobhead, people know you’re too busy already and simply ignore you.
Busy blocks opportunities. Free time unlocks hidden opportunities.
Time to warp your mind and take you to a different dimension
I love thinkers. They get my blood pumping, baby!
Lex Fridman is one of the best thinkers on the topic of time. He reminds us that if we were to travel at the speed of light, we’d not be able to experience time or space.
In the future when there’s intergalactic travel that goes at the speed of light, no matter how many miles you travel away from Earth to a place like Mars, the entire trip will feel as if it happened in an instant.
This next part will slap you in the face…
Lex says when time travels fast, two outcomes are possible:
1. we lose track of time, or…
2. time loses track of us
Mind blown. Think about that for long enough and the cells in your brain will start to realign and form new neural pathways.
The seduction of time
Time can be like a p*rn fantasy.
Waiting for the right time to do something in the future can make you get aroused. The thought of the goal or vision gets you all hot and bothered.
“One day I’m gonna do it darling, I tell ya.”
You tell your friends. You put up a vision board. You imagine a period of your life where there are no distractions or the kids are grown or retirement has arrived. It’s all so naughty and delicious.
What’s missed is that waiting makes the eventual goal 10x harder.
Time passes. The vision becomes blurry. Life gets in the way. Grandchildren arrive. Or you die sooner than you thought and the future never arrives.
Don’t get seduced by time and have it take away your curiosity’s virginity. Always act now to exploit the usefulness of time.
Invested time versus spent time
Sahil Bloom divides time into two categories: invested time or spent time.
Time can be invested:
Time can get spent like a consumer too: writing hateful comments, gossiping, watching Netflix with the other pricks, sucking up to a bad boss.
The cost of time is a paradox
I never used to value my time. I’d let telemarketers talk my ear off or get off to some office gossip around the water cooler.
One hour of my time used to be less than $100. Now I charge out my time to anyone who wants to buy it at $1000+. That’s what I must get paid to spend time away from my family and do things I don’t want to do.
In November when my daughter is born I expect the cost of my time to double. As we get older our time becomes more scarce so the price tag to trade it for money goes up exponentially.
Old age forces us to value time.
Use price tags on your time to show others you’re not willing to waste it. It sharpens their ‘asks’ and helps you decide what to say yes to.