I definitely have amazing time management skills.
Wow, I must have fooled you all. Ha ha.
Lately, I have been been ambivalent about my time management skills and productivity. I would not label myself as a rabid procrastinator, as I usually avoid waiting until the last second to do what I must accomplish, but I have realized that I cannot truthfully assert that I am a master of time management. Luckily, I am able to dedicate almost all of my time to academics, but I feel as though I do not use my time wisely or efficiently. I mean, I brought homework to the Auto Show, and I have spent most of my spring break making vague amounts of progress on my various projects. Why am I seemingly incapable of using my time efficiently, and instead take up most of the excessive time I have available to me to accomplish the tasks I have?
Well, over the past month or so, through my intake of media, I have stumbled upon, and subsequently accumulated, different ideas that have helped me understand my behavior.
First of all, on March 2, 2017, I found an article entitled “‘Ugh, I’m So Busy’: A Status Symbol for Our Time” from The Atlantic and immediately was fascinated by it, even just as a young student. I am certainly prone to asserting to others that I am busy, even though I am aware that I am blessed with time, so the title piqued my interest. The article basically states that claiming busyness has become a symbol of prestige and wealth, with one particularly interesting point from Silvia Bellezza, a researcher and professor of marketing at Columbia Business School, being the following:
One thing though that I think is interesting is that in most of Europe, shops are closed on Saturdays and Sundays, which basically implies that people cannot run their errands on the weekend. This means they’re obliged to do something with their free time and enjoy their leisure time, whereas in the U.S., because people get so used to these 24/7 types of shops, they run their errands on the weekend, whereas in Europe people get accustomed to going for a short trip or doing something other than chores. I thought that was interesting, because it seems we would always want shops to be open. But it’s funny how that backfires and detracts from our happiness.
I was almost in shock as I read this section of the article, as I think it represents both my mindset during holidays and my overall temptations to “use up” entire days, without putting in the effort to section the time off for tasks accordingly.
Last semester, I did some form of schoolwork outside of class every single day, which included all of Thanksgiving break. That tradition has carried over to this semester thus far, as I have even spent every single day of the spring break I am currently on doing at least some bit of work. Clearly, I find value in feeling as though I am using up all of the time I have for “important” activities.
I have come to realize that my obsession with thinking and declaring that I am always busy is my way of rationalizing my privilege of having academics be my main focus. I do feel guilty about being able to dedicate my time to school, and so I feel compelled to prove that I am, in fact, busy; this idea is shown in how I find myself sitting in my “schoolwork” room with my books laid out beside me for the majority of my days, even when I am in need of valuable time away from settings associated with schoolwork. If I waste time to the point that my tasks, which people could accomplish successfully in a respectable amount of time, seem to take up all of the time I have available, I do not have to feel guilty, right? Not really.
What the aforementioned article has proven to me is that I need to learn to segment the time available to me. It is unhealthy to be a workaholic, and of course, it is also not beneficial to become stagnant for long periods of time; therefore, a balance should be made. Like the article states about people feeling obligated to take time off, I should, and I actually have been working on, basically forcing myself to take breaks and relax. By having such times of guiltless relaxation, I can feel at least a little more pressure time-wise, and thus use my time more productively. These kinds of routines have proven to be much more satisfying (in both relaxation and working) than having ambiguous segmentations that leave me feeling unproductive and exhausted simultaneously, which is reminiscent of how many Americans feel in their lives that are bombarded by nonstop potential for action. And, let me say, the discussed decrease in happiness is real; just a couple of days ago, I kept taking so many breaks from facing the questions and responsibilities I had by looking at my phone that I had to force myself to go into “extended child’s pose” and simply just think through my issues for a few minutes in order to feel better. Implementing these kinds of breaks in the first place has really helped me; for example, a couple of nights ago, instead of working on an essay while taking breaks every few minutes, I actually let myself indulge in Gilmore Girls clips on YouTube for the rest of the night, knowing that doing so would drive me to work more productively later on, which was what occurred. (Baby steps, my friends.) By the way, I find that putting at least a little bit of time pressure on myself may increase the quality of the work too. When I have an extravagant amount of time to accomplish something, I often tell myself “I can fix this later if I need to,” which leads to questionable results, while when I am feeling the need to be productive, I make sure to handle all potential problems immediately.
The other puzzle piece in the questioning of my time management skills is an episode of a podcast that I listened to last week. It was the episode of Hidden Brain entitled “Me, Me, Me: The Rise of Narcissism In The Age Of The Selfie.” I would predict that almost every one of my fellow millennials would find their blood pressure to increase upon reading the title of this episode (mine definitely did), since I think of myself as not the generalized vision of self(ie)-obsessed millennial. For some reason, though, I felt compelled to listen to the aforementioned podcast, and within minutes of listening, it dawned on me that I am definitely not the unique eighteen-year-old that I had thought myself to be (which is in addition to how I realized from the Atlantic article that I am, in fact, one of the stereotypical Americans who is impacted by the lack of “closing times”).
One major point that was made in the podcast episode by psychologist Jean Twenge that sparked some much-needed self-reflection was in regards to self-esteem, as it was stated that millennials really are more narcissistic than past generations, with many thinking that they are above average. At first, I wondered if that really was something negative. I will admit to thinking that I am someone with potential, and so I questioned if it really is that bad that people in my age demographic feel this way too.
Then, it was pointed out that although many people think that having a high self-esteem is necessary to the process becoming successful, a high self-esteem is usually naturally bred from actual achievements. And with people forcing declarations of special qualities and potential onto millennials in order to boost their self-esteem, a lack of actual incentive and work towards creating deserved accomplishments can be the result. If people already think that they are above average, why should they feel the need to prove themselves? There is no stepping stone to high self-esteem.
Yes, this was the point in my listening session in which I realized that I am a narcissist.
Well, I may not be too much of a narcissist, but I surely can see signs of my lack of concentrated effort towards some goals of mine. There are countless times in which I daydream about the dreams and ideas that I have, and I essentially believe that they will inevitably come to life as I grow up. In actuality, though, I can hardly even bring myself to sketch out my plans in my Moleskine notebook; my time management regarding these dreams is certainly questionable at times. As I stated before, I do not see myself as a hardcore procrastinator, but I see these kinds of tendencies in myself and my peers. In fact, when multiple of my classes were asked to raise their hands if they procrastinate, almost everyone raised their hands. (To be fair, though, one of my professors raised their hand as well.)
I still think that harsh generalizations and subsequent blame and shame are placed on people such as myself (there is the question of if I should feel so guilty about being okay with myself that I label myself as a narcissist), especially since similar trends can be found in other generations of people as well, but I can and will acknowledge some symptoms in myself that are certainly dangerous.
Therefore, I wonder if my odd dichotomy of having motivation and feeling tempted to not use my time as efficiently as possible is the result of some kind of dispute between my desire to always declare myself busy and my belief that I am special enough to make anything work out the way I want it to. In other words, there is a kind of conflict between feeling special and full of natural potential and feeling compelled to use up all of the time I have in order to seem to be someone of importance. In this society in which working 24/7 is seen as what successful people do, and children have been told of their potential to achieve all of their goals, wavering abilities to be proactive (and guilt associated with downturns) is likely the consequence.
I am a bit afraid of what the negative impacts of wavering time management skills could be for me, and on top of that, it was stated on the aforementioned podcast that adolescents may have a rude awakening once they realize that they may not be as successful at achieving all of their goals as they thought they would be. So, I must remind myself that it is great to have goals and dreams and be willing to work hard, but that I need to block off times for both work and relaxation in a way that will make me learn to use my time productively. By doing so, I should be able to avoid my ambiguous use of time that leaves me both lethargic and looking forward to what I can accomplish in the future instead of using the time I have in the present moment.
See, I clearly have all of the answers!
Did I trick you all again? (Probably not.)
Really, though, I do not have all of the answers to my questions or those of others; I am simply just an adolescent manically trying to connect the figurative dots (to questionable results, I must admit).
Do you think you have the answers, though, or any thoughts regarding what I have discussed? If so, please let me know.