Task Based Time Management is for Stingy Losers

Every morning I commute to work by taxi. The fact that it costs nearly S$100,000 for a Certificate of Entitlement to merely purchase a car in Singapore has excluded me from the car ownership club. And the fact that it halves my commute time to travel by taxi rather than MRT, and that it takes one third of the time to travel by taxi rather than bus made my decision quite easy. Yet I am constantly met with criticism from people who do and don’t own cars in Singapore, because it’s just so expensive to travel by taxi in the morning.
At first that criticism stung, because I’m not good at taking criticism lightly. It also took me a little while to see the criticism as a cultural norm for Singaporeans rather than rudeness – money and how others spend it is open for conversation. Eventually I was able to meet that criticism with the reasoning that my partner doesn’t usually get home until after 9pm, and for us to spend time together I prefer to stay up late with him instead of going to bed early to catch public transport. But now I’m just going to shut it down with this:
“Values Based Time Management is expensive.”
After I walk away, people will look perplexed and then decide I’m a dick. But I don’t care, because I doubt they could answer these questions, like where do we get this ridiculous premise that a life well lived means being stingy? That it means having the Best One at the Best Value? That it requires huge decision making and reasoning in order to be valid?
Louis CK nailed it in this stand up routine from his television show Louie, summed up best as: “when he describes the absurdly arduous job of the consumer to research his or her purchases by reading long reviews online from people crazy enough to, “murder-suicide their entire family,” after describing the “counter intuitiveness” of a Blu-Ray player remote.” (I highly recommend listening to the routine, it is actually very funny.)
Personally, I think it comes from our traditional concept of Time Management as being about tasking and micro managing aspects of our life so we will have time later for more important things. It’s that good old delayed gratification thinking, which Carrie from Sex and The City sums up so well: “But isn’t delayed gratification the definition of maturity?”
No Carrie – it’s all bullshit.
Those hours we are investing for later will never come. They will be used on other tasks or emergencies. The only time we’ve got the ability to spend is this very minute, as of right now. So effective time management for me looks like investing in my values of nurturing deep relationships with family, being a good friend, owning beautiful things I like and enjoy, staying open minded and being creative. Because when I die, those are the things I will have treasured – not a completed to-do list that would later allow time for those things.
So why doesn’t everyone just do that? What’s the point of this blog post? 
Ummm – because it’s fucking expensive to live that way.
The minutes I’m spending on my values now actually cost money, rather than the future hours I am supposedly investing for that will only cost me at that time (which is never). 
This is what the monetary out lay looks like:

Penelope Trunk said it way better in her post titled 5 Time management tricks I learned from years of hating Tim Ferriss. Interesting title, but awesome take away. Effective time management ultimately comes down to what is the most important thing to value, and that is good relationships.
Task Based Time Management is for losers who believe the concept of delayed gratification actually applies to time. When we’re smarter than that and aren’t stingy, we pay those few extra dollars to enjoy the instant gratification of investing in our values. Straightaway our lives feel purposeful and centered, and in most books that’s a pretty excellent return on investment.

And you know how I know? Because when I pay that big taxi fare in the morning, it actually makes me feel pretty good to put my money where my heart is – time with my loved ones.

Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

This couldn’t fit in the post, but I thought it’s a great article about learning to let go of getting the Best One at the Best Value, so I wanted to share Wendy Harmer’s piece of Too Much Choice is Bad For You. It can be the tough step in between being a task based time manager and starting to manage your time by values – that step of accepting things that are “good enough”.

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  • 16 December 2012