Does counting hours help us be more mindful of how we spend them?
There are 132 days until I turn 50.
That’s 2,112 waking hours. How many of those hours will I spend doing things that feed me? Things that will directly impact how I feel and who I will be on that day?
I can’t know for sure.
For the most part, we keep time in a vague way when it comes to milestones, deadlines and anything marked by a date. There’s either lots of time, or not enough. We think “That’s not for months.” “That’s weeks away.” and then “Holy crap, where did the time go?”
We rarely look at the hours.
In her book, 168 Hours, Laura Vanderkam asserts that this unit of time — total hours in a week — is an ideal lens through which to examine our lives. I read that book years ago. I have no sense of how many 168-hour chunks of time have passed since.
As I get closer to 50, I’m intentionally playing with the concept of time.
When I first saw Tim Urban’s post “Your Life in Weeks” — oh so many weeks ago — I didn’t want to take it in. His visual conceptualizations are existentially powerful. If you allow them to sink in. Google it.
Facing your finiteness is scary shit.
The Stoics suggest that we live each day remembering that we will die. Memento Mori. And up until recently, I’ve not been ready to accept the power of that approach. But as time seems to be speeding up and I’m aware that I’ve lived a huge chunk of my life on autopilot, it’s time to do things differently.
I don’t have all the time in the world. Yet it’s so hard to live life based on that truth.
The way we slice up time to suit our needs and keep it vague, is a big part of the problem. If we don’t quantify our time differently in a more in-your-face way, everything is at some nebulous point in the future. It’s not real.
So will counting down the hours to my 50th help me be more mindful of how I spend them?
Only time will tell.