No time? Listen to it instead
During my (half) gap year, I read way more than I had ever done before. Now, I’m not one to compete on reading. I find that to be something rather obnoxious. Reading is learning and not a competition. However, there was one core learning I’ve applied to every part of my life since then, which has helped me prioritise better: the That’s Just One Episode mindset.
The year was 2018, I had just bought a Kindle if I remember correctly. The Kindle was exceptionally great as a device for all the reasons its advertisements scream all the time. It was lightweight, easy to use, and waterproof.
In any case, the one thing they don’t advertise is that it can also help shift your mindset with just one exceptional feature: Typical Time to Read.
This appears when you are first beginning a book. I remember not noticing this initially. Then, this little piece of information just happened to shift my perspective entirely when I realised, “Hey, that means, it’s just worth half a season of a binge-watch or say two movies?”
The more books I’ve read since then, the more I’ve realised that the Typical Time to Read is usually 3-6 hours unless you pick a Shakespearean volume up. That’s… not a lot.
It makes it easier to pick a book up now. Since I don’t look at it as a book or as a long read or as something, I’ll spend a lot of time on. I just look at it as an evening visit to the theatre.
However, this trickled down to everything in my life eventually. On a rather busy day when I feel I barely have any time, I often find myself nudge me to do say, a lesson on Duolingo. I often say something like, “Hey, it’s just going to take fifteen minutes.”
In fact, when I’m too lazy to work out, most of the times my reason to pick the mat up is usually, “Hey, that’s just thirty or so minutes of discomfort.” Eventually, it all adds up too. So, thirty minutes daily is a lot of time when you add it over a year or decade.
I feel it’s a compelling thing once it enters the conscience like that because it makes you get up. It makes you rethink your priorities and prioritise better. It makes you stop the braindead activity you’re doing and getting a move on.
What It’s Not
This is not a technique to push yourself when you know you need rest. That’s not the intended use-case. It’s about prioritising. To visualise two activities in terms of the time and effort they’ll take helps prioritise better.
Once you start reminding yourself of it, you find yourself on top of things somewhat regularly. It becomes a habit of sorts to look at each task, and go, “Yeah, I can skip a session of gaming for a workout, no problem” or “I guess, I can manage cleaning the apartment today. It should only take a Netflix episode’s worth of time.”
The idea is to compare everything that you value with a mindless activity that isn’t adding much to the life you’re trying to create.
Most good things can be done in fewer minutes than most people imagine. Often, we fail to visualise how long a habit or a task might take. It’s just about comparing and weighing the things we do together to prioritise better. The common denominator is the 24 hours we have during the day: there are no apples and oranges.
Marcia Biederman’s great piece on Kindle’s Typical Time to Read goes in great depth to explain what’s good about it and what’s not so good.
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