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The Philosophy of Time Management | Brad Aeon | TEDxConcordia

when I was six years old my biggest fear
was to get bored I used to make to-do
lists every single day so to always have
something to do
but one day I was watching this
documentary on sea turtles and it said
that sea turtles can live up to 150
years of age and I realized as a
six-year-old kid and I’m probably not
gonna live that long I’m gonna die it
was such a strange realization don’t you
feel weird sometimes when you realize
that no matter what you do in life still
gonna die in the end so I ran to my
mother and asked your mom is it cuter
we’re all gonna die someday you me dad
my friends and she said yes we’re all
gonna die there’s nothing you can do
about that and I was terrified I started
to cry I cried so hard because of what
death meant it literally means the end
of existence the end of everything and I
wondered what’s the point of all this so
I turned to my mom still crying and said
so why do we work why do I have to work
what does dad have to work so much if he
and everybody else are gonna die anyway
she never answered my question
but that question stuck with me ask
myself a lot of questions and I’m sure
you do too
that’s what philosophy is all about
asking questions and what could be more
important than asking questions about
how to use your time probably nothing
because time is all we have so naturally
you would expect the hold time
management movement to be very
after all time management is a concept
that started out in philosophy the
ancient philosophers were obsessed with
this one very important question how can
we use our time in a way that makes our
lives meaningful but modern time
management is philosophically empty time
management books are written by
consultants not philosophers it’s always
about tips and tricks and techniques to
get more things done to do things faster
to be more productive more efficient and
to work better time management has
become philosophically empty time
management has moved away from his
philosophical roots but if we really
want to live a meaningful life we have
to once again reinforce and philosophy
starts with questions here’s a very
simple question why do we need to manage
time some people might say it’s because
time is precious very precious so we
need to manage it but how precious is
time exactly see whenever I introduced
myself to people as a time management
researcher the first thing people say is
oh yeah time management it’s that’s
really important because because time is
money time is money
every time I hear time is money it
reminds me of this conversation I had
over coffee with this acquaintance of
mine he was a he was a contractor as
what we’re talking he looked slightly
annoyed and impatient so I asked him
Jeff what’s going on man everything all
right and he said she said I hate
wasting my time makes me so so angry
it’s awesome what do you mean and he
said look I make on in 60 dollars an
hour that means every hour I spend with
you I’m losing 160 bucks I was slightly
offended to be honest but it’s what he
said next that really shocked me he said
whenever I’m spending time with my own
kids it makes me so angry because yeah
i’m spending time with them but every
hour i spend with my kids I’m not making
$160 and it’s not just an anecdote you
can see this everywhere experiments show
that whenever people start to think of
time as money they become more agitated
less happy always in a rush and
importantly they get greedy they become
less likely to help people out to
volunteer or to think about the
environment because nothing else matters
when you’re making out in $60 an hour
the real question is is money the real
value of time the Roman philosopher
Seneca said that if we think of time as
money we’re actually valuing our time
very cheaply we value our time very
cheaply because we think we’re we have a
lot of it because we think we’re gonna
live forever but we’re not gonna live
forever we’re gonna die and the moment
you realize and I mean fully realized
that you’re going to die on an $60 an
hour it won’t mean much time is not
money anymore now some people might say
that thinking about death is not exactly
cheerful maybe but it’s very helpful the
French philosopher Albert Camus
said that the most fundamental question
in philosophy is why shouldn’t I kill
myself right now it’s true why shouldn’t
kill you why shouldn’t you kill yourself
right now your answer to that question
will remind you what you’re truly living
for your answer to that question will
remind you of the true value of your
time because time is not money when you
know you’re going to die and this is how
philosophy helps with time management
it helps us ask meaningful questions
about time
here’s another seemingly simple question
can you manage time back in college I
had this uh.this professor used to tell
me that you can’t manage time time
management is bullshit you can’t manage
time because there’s too much too many
things to do too much work to do too
many obligations you can’t manage time
she’s to publicly brag about how she
never sees her daughter because she has
she never has time people admired her
because she was so productive but what
people didn’t know was that her work
obligations also made her depressed they
cost her a marriage and of course she
never really got to know our daughter
but what truly pains me is that things
could have been otherwise she could’ve
been all out she could have been alive
today and see her daughter grew up but
she didn’t believe that time could be
managed so she never tried whenever I
used to drop by her office she would
tell me sorry kiddo I don’t have time
but that was a lie I don’t have time is
the biggest lie in the history of
mankind you know who really didn’t have
time your great grandparents those guys
had no time at all they had to work 12
hours a day every single day it’s not
just work everything back then was more
time-consuming people didn’t have
washing machines so they’d have to wash
everything by hand they didn’t have
frozen meals so that to cook everything
from scratch and all those things took
hours to do back in the days that’s why
a great grandparents really didn’t have
but here’s the incredible thing our
great-grandparents did not complain
about not having time we do it’s a
paradox we have more time than they did
and yet we still complain that we don’t
have time why because we have more
options more freedom to choose our time
options as we please
look at how we live today we can shop on
Amazon 24/7 any day of the year
women can delay pregnancy by freezing
their eggs more and more companies offer
flexible work schedules we can watch our
favorite shows any time I want on
Netflix so not only do we have more time
but we have also have a lot more
flexibility a lot more a lot more
freedom to use our time as we please
and we still say that we don’t have time
why the philosopher jean-paul Sartre has
said that we have this tendency to trick
ourselves into thinking we’re not free
because being free to use your time as
you please means that you have to make a
choice and live with the consequences of
that choice that mean that means
whatever you do with your time it’s on
you and that’s the scary part it’s scary
because what if we made the wrong
what if we’re missing out it’s this
constant fear of missing out would your
life have been better had you spent more
time with your kids or more time
studying or more time partying maybe we
don’t want to know that’s why we say we
don’t have time it gives us an excuse
it’s reassuring but in reality we do
have time and time can be managed it’s
just that we don’t have a lot of it so
they have to be sacrifices we can’t have
it all when it comes to time we can
either make sacrifices or make excuses
but only one of them will allow you to
live meaningfully we live in an era of
unprecedented flexibility where we
actually afford to work less and do more
meaningful things with our time so why
don’t we and by we I really mean us you
me and everybody else in the city
because time management is not just
about you it’s about all of us it’s
about all of us as a society the way you
manage your time has huge consequences
for our world what do people say when
they don’t vote I didn’t have time what
do people say we didn’t read I don’t
have time why don’t people relax go the
museum or volunteer I don’t have time
but this wouldn’t be the case if we
thought about time management the way
philosophers do by asking questions the
right questions instead of focusing on
tips tricks and shortcuts so what kind
of questions can we ask ourselves well
is it reasonable to let you boss call
you on weekends is it worth it is it
worth your time and buy time I really
mean life not money because you’re not
paying your bosses with some with some
commodity you’re paying them with your
time you’re paying them with your life
if that’s not precious I don’t know what
is next time you tell a friend you don’t
have time to hang out ask yourself if
you actually have better things to do
or if you’re just making excuses because
there’s a growing sense of isolation in
Western societies people feel alone
partly because people feel they don’t
have time to hang out anymore though we
do have time so please share it with the
people you care about if you can
remember if you want to if you want to
manage your time meaningfully embrace
philosophy and never stop asking
questions thank you
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