January 19, 2020 ☼ Self ☼ Meta ☼ "Work"
Does planning one’s time make one boring? Do people who plan, who are more synced to the system of how things work, have less of a personality? Are they finding themselves so ingrained in the status quo that their jokes are status quo jokes and they can’t have fun except what is expected and common? “Went out for drinks with a couple co-workers after work. It was a great time. We had some laughs.” Do they invest their attention into such standard ways of thinking that they miss seeing some of the unusual things that happen around them? That they literally can’t see the beautiful unusual?
Do they start planning so deeply, so thoroughly that they become less flexible, less able to call audibles? Do their personalities change? Their priorities? Is it less likely that they’ll think an offensive or absurd or inefficient thought? Do they lose a sense of possibility? Does their idea of human becomes so functional that their imagination starts disintegrating? Does imagination become a nuisance? Do they even refer to imagination any more? (Or do they just talk about Creatives and their creativity?) And do “Creatives” themselves become worse at what they focus their mind on planning and prioritizing and narrowing into specifics?
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve wanted to plan my time better, to better anticipate things, to have a better grasp of my time. I don’t think I want to command it as much as just understand it. Projects always take longer than I plan, and stress me out. Sleep, coffee, socializing all have impacts on my mood that are greater than I’d tend to think, than I want to think.
But with all of this measuring, this calculation, I worry that it will become so easy to see myself like a state, to start seeing my personal value in maximizing stats, or reaching certain goals, the gravity toward the preferable. It’s making me worry: Is indexing my behavior changing me for the worse? (It’s also making me feel the need/opportunity to define my goals better.)
If I stick to my plan most of the time, I’m committing to “being weird only some of the time”, committing to not being weird all of the time, committing to a limitation. It feels weird/wrong. And there’s something valuable about just not giving a f%ck. Maybe Mark Twain’s ‘moderation in moderation’ is a better compromise: commit to limitation…sometimes.
Or maybe my problem is with the self-control part of following my plans–the fact that I don’t actually know what I’m doing, means i’m letting someone who doesn’t actually know what they’re doing plan out my time. My plans could also fail, while if i don’t plan, they can’t.
But if I think about how i believe I’ve changed for the better recently, my preferences, my priorities, my personality….they are all shifting toward the boring I’m talking about. Maybe this is growing up. Or maybe this “adulting.” By narrowing my thought, I worry I’m over-engineering, stifling my ability to generate emancipatory ideas, thoughts that focus on helping people rather than optimizations within a system, new ways of doing things that couple help make positive change.
Yet, as I slowly get better at planning out my time, I feel like i’m inching closer toward feeling like i have time to read. Or I’m feeling like, given the plans I want to have, i have no choice but to make time to read and think, and I’m able to make that time because I’ve planned time for my other activities & responsibilities. Even this blog feels like it’s come out of a drive to have a more clear plan, clearer thoughts, clarity, efficiency (and this blog is awesome, right?). If I’m to have useful thoughts about important things in the world, I need this time to read and write, to digest ideas, to develop my own.
But even if I buy that boring ol’ planning helps me spend my time for the better, why does it still feel wrong? Maybe part of my aesthetic aversion is a political one. I often mistake things that are efficient, thoughtful, ‘smart,’ ‘the right way to do it’ in a general sense for things that are purely capitalistic in a gross or unattractive or uninteresting or an existentially tinged you’re-just-a-cog-in-a-wheel-so-why-would-it-even-matter-if-you-plan-or-not kind of way. I initially undervalue some things because I see them as merely ‘artifacts of capitalism’ (and as such, just amplifying the dominant ideology, believed to be good ‘just because’, and providing not critique or scrutiny in a way that is….boring?) An example: I tend to believe that articulating priorities and aiming to be efficient are inherently, solely Capitalistic, but when I really think about it, that obviously not right.
Priorities and goals aren’t exclusive to Capitalism. And being boring is not inherently a super-explicit submission to ideology/markets. Just because I’m subject to my context doesn’t mean i can only manifest the status quo. Efficiency, planning, narrowness can be pointed in some direction. And if I’m gonna have a specific impact in the world, i probably need to narrow my focus (flop around less) and aim, then continue learning and adjusting my trajectory as I go. This also means that, to avoid my work slipping into a standard capitalistic efficiency, I should become better at defining & reinforcing my goals. And to do all this, I should probably be open to being boring. In fact:
I can aim to be efficient, with distinct (and limited) priorities, with a changed personality, with a scope of jokes that I find funny that are different from what I today think are delightful (heck even with losing the ability to find some jokes funny)…I can aim to have clarity, defined ways of consideration, can moderate my moderation, can kinda do all these things and be boring, and still do what i want to do. (I think.)
Guh, for however redundant and annoying it was, this blog post still resonates, (bleh maybe a lot of what that guy writes will resonate). Boring can be good. It’s like dynamic fiction writers who stick to a really standard schedule — only with/through/due to the boring structure can you achieve big things. Build up from a reliable groundwork. i know this isn’t universally true for folks, but I think i’m predisposed to be someone for whom it is true. that is, for better or worse, boring probably works well for me.