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Fluidity of Time

Published 8/6/2018

One of our most popular episodes on the show was on a subject that's tough to talk about. The subject was time and time management, and that's what we're going to talk about in today's episode - the plasticity and difficulty that time presents.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey, everyone. Before we get started today, I want to talk about something that I'm really excited about. It's a partnership with Breaker. If you haven't heard of Breaker, it is my favorite podcasting app. It's the one that I actually use personally to listen to episodes. You can go and actually connect with other people who are listening to episodes. You can comment on episodes. You can share them. They have an excellent recommendation engine. Just a wonderful application, but they're launching this new thing called Breaker Upstream and Developer Tea is going to be a part of this. This is a way for you as a listener to directly support the show. This is something that we've thought about for a very long time on Developer Tea. And we want to make sure this is available to you in the right way. And that's why we decided to partner with Breaker to do this. Upstream is launching today, the day that you're hearing this episode, assuming that you downloaded it on the day it was released. And what upstream allows us to do is release special content, special Developer Teacontent that we aren't necessarily going to release on the normal show schedule. We can release it through Breaker Upstream and you can give directly to the show to support us. Now this support model is specifically for podcasts. That means that your experience as the listener is seamless. You're right there in your player already and the content is going to be delivered right there in the player already. So this is a much better model than you having to go to a totally different website or something like that to support the show. You can download Breaker in the app store and it will be coming to Android soon in the Google Play Store. One of the most popular episodes ever of this show was about a subject that is really kind of hard to talk about because so much of it is theoretical. The subject was time and more specifically time management. How do we create what in that episode I called a time budget? This was step one in the developer career roadmap. Now I'm not sure if the reason that this particular episode was so popular. If the reason was that it was step one in the developer career roadmap or because people are particularly interested in managing their time. Or maybe a little bit of both but I wanted to discuss time a little bit more in depth in today's episode. My hope for this episode is that you'll walk away with a new intuition about the plasticity and really the difficulty that time presents. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea and my goal in this show is to help driven developers like you connect to your career purpose. So you can do better work and have a positive influence on the people around you. And so in today's episode we're talking about time not just because you know we want to be productive not just because we want to spend our time well although this is a very important point in maybe what we should open up with. That is that time is one thing that kind of binds us all to some degree we all have the same amount of time now this isn't necessarily true in terms of free time. And this is a common mistake that people make when they talk about time specifically with this equalizing statement that we all have the same amount of time. And this is mostly true except that some people have totally different obligations they have totally different logistics that take up their time in different ways. And people even require different amounts of sleep so it doesn't really serve the point to say that we all have the same amount of time. But what is true is that none of us can create or for that matter destroy time each of us has some allotment of time and for the given allotment let's say one hour or one minute or one microsecond or one year. That amount of time is kind of separate from our control it's not necessarily a resource in the way that something like money is and so when we talk about spending time that is something that is always happening you are always spending time at the same rate as everyone else. Now again bear with me here because there are certainly people in the audience of the show who recognize the philosophical issue at hand here and that is that time is really only a concept it's something that we perceive it's difficult to measure it perfectly because our perception is so different. And so what one person experiences and what another person experiences as the same amount of time may feel entirely different to those two people. Now you can see why this is such an important concept right if you work for example in a freelance position then you probably bill for your hours. You also probably have some expectation in your job to work for a certain number of hours in a given week even if you aren't necessarily tracking or billing based on those hours. But why is that at its most basic level what this allows us to do is equalize somebody's effort right we're going to pay for a certain amount of effort generally speaking this is a culturally determined normal amount so for most people in the United States that's going to be 40 hours and a given week. And employers are going to exchange a certain amount of value for a certain amount of effort. Now of course you as the employee you could spend no effort in that amount of time right you could do you could put forth zero effort and you could theoretically still be paid for your time. Of course if you do this for too long you're going to lose your job but there is a continuum in other words the amount of effort that you put forth at one hour let's say from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on a Tuesday might be quite different from the amount of effort that you put forth from four o'clock to five o'clock on a Friday. And here we're stumbling on one of the reasons why time is such an important and difficult thing to talk about that is that what we're trying to do is create some kind of proxy. We're creating a proxy from somebody's energy to their time that proxy acts as a way of saying okay we're going to average out your time over the course of a week or over the course of a pay period. Or even longer over the course of a year. And in some weeks you're going to be incredibly productive and others not so much so that's not too hard to understand if we were to average out our productivity or value over time. Maybe we provide an insane amount of value and then we go on vacation the next month. And this is normal and it's fairly natural and usually people don't get fired for having highly productive times and then less productive times. People generally speaking your performance reviews are not going to be entirely focused on all of the times that you were slightly less productive. And if they are focused on that then perhaps either you are less productive in your high productive times than you think you are or maybe it's time to sit down and talk to your employer about their expectations and your expectations. The truth of the matter is time is very strange. Every minute is not equal. We're going to talk about how we perceive time even as an individual of course I may perceive time differently from you but even for myself I might perceive one hour quite differently from the next hour. We're going to talk about some of the things that might adjust our perspective of time right after we talk about today's sponsor digital ocean. Speaking of time and value digital ocean is going to give you a hundred dollars worth of free credit just for being a developer to listener. You can get started with the digital ocean today. It's the easiest cloud platform to run and scale applications from effortless administration tools to robust compute storage and networking services. Digital ocean provides an all in one cloud platform to help developers and their teams save time when running and scaling their applications digital ocean uses a predictable pricing scheme that is consistent across regions at any usage volume. They have rapid provisioning so you're going to get up and running really quickly and they have industry leading price to performance ratios go and check out what digital ocean has to offer. Specifically that hundred dollars worth of credit you can find out more by going to do dot CO slash T that's D O dot C O slash T E A. Thanks again to digital ocean for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So we're talking about ways that time can be warped even for an individual now let me prove this to you very quickly. When you sleep when you go to sleep at night and you wake up in the morning let's say you wake up in the middle of the night that's an even better. Uh kind of a gesture for the way that you think let's say you wake up in the middle of the night you look around it's pitch black. And you don't know what time it is. In fact you have no idea you could look at the clock and it could say 1 a.m. or 4 a.m. and both would be equally acceptable. Now you may feel very sleepy you may feel like there's no way that it's that it's 4 a.m. But if you were to look at the clock and see 4 a.m. you wouldn't think oh that clock must be wrong. You might think well I should have gone to bed a little bit earlier but you probably wouldn't blame the technology in that scenario right. And similar phenomenon happen throughout your day you might think oh wow I can't believe it's already lunchtime right in the morning whenever you're. Uh whenever you're working so let's let's cover one of the you know most obvious ones falling asleep whenever your states of consciousness change. Uh this is certainly going to change your experience of time. And this happens to us every single night our state of consciousness changes. So our experience of time while we're sleeping can vary pretty dramatically. If you're not having a dream for example you may have zero experience of time you may feel. Uh essentially like you snap your fingers and you want to sleep and you woke up. Of course so many of our other senses and our sensibilities tell us otherwise and so we may feel kind of mentally tell ourselves to feel that time has passed. But our experience of time wasn't necessarily there we didn't really have that passage of time the same experience that we would have. And to give you an idea if you think about how long the the work day is something around eight hours or maybe a little bit longer depending on how long you work in a given day. That's about how long you're supposed to be sleeping and maybe you sleep a little bit less but. That could kind of help you wrap your brain around how differently you experience time during that period at night. And of course this kind of feels like a given and it's not really that important for you know your work as a developer but there are absolutely other times when you're totally awake when you experience time differently for example. We've discussed this one on the show before when you have a new experience when you do something brand new like for example something as simple as taking a new route home. Assuming you are paying attention and you're noticing the new details and you're kind of forcing your brain to have that new experience this is going to make time seem like it's lasting longer. Generally speaking research shows that there are different places of attention that will shift your time experience as well for example this one may come intuitively but if you're experiencing pain. Then time may feel significantly longer if you have a pretty sharp pain a strong pain for let's say 10 minutes straight that's going to feel like you know you might even say something along the lines of that was the longest 10 minutes of my life. But it's not only pain that will stretch and slow down that time if you simply focus on your own body. For example we've talked about meditation on this podcast before if you were to meditate people who start out meditating by the way this is also a time when I hear that same phrase that's the longest 10 minutes that I've ever had to spend when you're sitting in silence and you're especially if you're focusing on your body you're doing some kind of mindfulness meditation in that sense. Then you may feel that same that same feeling of time stretching and anecdotal experience for me is when I'm running on the treadmill and I'm looking down at the time I'm trying to hit a particular you know amount of time on the treadmill and I'm watching that time go by. And I try to look away from the clock and my mind is entirely on you know the time and the pain that I'm feeling and it seems to just crawl on. Of course if I'm sitting at home watching funny videos on YouTube with my wife well 10 minutes seems to fly by in the blink of an eye. If you're in a job where you are bored or otherwise unchallenged this is going to stretch time out it's going to make time feel longer. Of course on the other end of the spectrum if you are experiencing some kind of flow state which happens when you have you know a highly challenging problem but you also have a lot of time to do it. And enough skill to meet that challenge right it's something that's kind of at your edge of ability where you're entirely focused on what you're doing. Then time seems to kind of slip by you're totally unaware of that time. And as it turns out generally speaking if you can find that flow state then you're most likely going to be kind of at your optimum productivity level. Now why are we talking so much about this kind of fluidity of time and how we experience it how it's so you know kind of wild and uncontrollable. Well because it's very important to understand that your perspective on time is going to change your perspective on work. It will also change your perspective on other people and how they work and how you can work best with them. So instead of just treating every hour the same and trying to force yourself into that kind of machine model that we've talked about on the show before where you're trying to you know produce the same amount of value like a factory machine would instead of viewing your time that way. And reviewing your time in terms of what it actually is a much more fluid experience time that you value in different ways time that you are better at one type of activity than other types of activities. We're going to discuss this subject more in depth on upcoming episodes of Developer Tea and in fact we have a very exciting guest that I can't wait to share with you on the show. I don't want you to miss out on these discussions so I encourage you to subscribe and whatever podcasting app you use. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Thank you again to digital ocean for sponsoring today's episode head over to d o dot c o slash t to get a hundred dollars worth of credit on digital ocean services today. Thank you so much for listening and until next time enjoy your tea.