COLUMN: Saving time, a chronological challenge

This is my Sunday column for the March 11, 2012 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune. A version of this piece aired recently on KAXE’s Between You and Me.

Saving time, a chronological challenge
By Aaron J. Brown

Time is money. Well, sort of. Time is the soil from which sprouts our mortal life. You can make a lot of money on this harvest if you want, but we all get the same amount of time every day. We decide what we want to spend our time doing. In this, time is better than money because it can’t be hoarded or redistributed. It must be spent in 365 evenly-paced cycles every year, and more yet in a Leap Year.

I’ve always had a horrible addiction to everything. As a result, time management became particularly important early in my life. If I handled time well I’d have more time for my foolproof plans and grand ambitions. Warren Zevon once wrote “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I often feel that way. Until I get the brush-back from my first heart attack I figure I’ll keep on in this fashion. Big bucks, no whammies. I have essays to write, a blog to update. I take the stairs. Maybe that will help.

Such a lifestyle requires one to save time at every corner. But not every time-saving plot delivers results. Here are, in no particular order, some of my failed attempts to save time:

1) Brushing my teeth in the shower. I experimented with this for a few days once. There exists a frantic quality to brushing your teeth in the shower. It’s like you are about to be sucked out of the shower into a long pneumatic tube that dries and dresses you on your way down to the garage where your coffee and commute await. I also determined that the risk of mixing up toothpaste with shampoo or shaving cream was too great, particularly when sleep deprived, which is to say, “at all times.”

2) Cutting only one mower length along my back fence. This is one of those insidious ideas that creep into being. When you’re mowing an acre of lawn that includes several trees, hills and hidden rocks you don’t want to spend much time worrying about that patch behind the fence. Three mower rows becomes two, and then finally one. And then the briars grow in and the poison ivy snakes through the chain link. My time saving move has thus forced me to use the lawn mower in a defensive position, much like a lion tamer’s chair.

3) Using an RSS reader for my internet browsing. A few years ago I started using Google Reader to compile all my favorite blogs and websites into one easy-to-sort location. And while this is very efficient, the result has been a little like a crack addict compiling all of their crack into one giant crack satchel.

4) The DVR in my home was a time saving device designed to better manage the time we spend watching television. We could record our favorite shows and watch them at our leisure, hopping over the commercial breaks like a frog over a lily pad. The result has been a standing reserve of Conan and Daily Show episodes and movies we thought were too sad to watch in the theater.

5) Finally, of course, what I’m doing now. I’m writing a newspaper column that I’ll also present on the radio. This works out great so long as I don’t forget to change them to fit the format. For instance, in the newspaper I’d need to cut out the part where I say that the newspaper industry fails to adapt to contemporary trends in how people consume media. And in the radio I’d skip this whole paragraph because GO GO GO! Wait, did I remember to cut out the thing about the newspaper? No time to check!

The physicists will tell you that time slows down as you speed up. The fastest mile I ever ran, however, was seven minutes and that was a long time ago. Time thus marches on, and so perhaps a guy ought to save his time by enjoying the moment. I mean, eventually. When I’m done with this next thing.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from the Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on 91.7 KAXE.

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