Life Short Reads

Altered Timescale

All of my time estimates need to be corrected by a factor of two.

12:45 already?

Life seems to be going by twice as fast as it should. Not simply the increasing relative speed of time compared to age that I’ve written about before. This one is newer, first arising during the grad school and beyond years, involving a perceptional error where every value of time I imagine is, in reality, doubled.

If I think it has been one week, it’s actually two weeks. Three months? Six months. A year and a half? Three years. As one might imagine, this causes all sorts of problems with deadlines and time-limited opportunities such as “flash sales.” Email about a deal? An intention to look at it when I get home from work in 12 hours turns into 24 hours, and the window has closed. It’s an unexpected way to save money, if nothing else.

Where is all that extra time going? I am quite sure that I’m not sleeping it away. A simple answer would be “work,” but that feels more like an excuse than an explanation. It isn’t simply the act of working or being at work. It is theoretically possible to complete all kinds of other tasks while at work as long as one has access to a computer or a phone. Instead, I think it might be the all-consuming nature of the work: a stream of information, tasks, and pages (yes, we still use pagers) disappearing hours into a black hole.

Arriving home feels like coming up for air, and that’s assuming there isn’t more to do after I gave up and left with notes undone. From there, it’s a matter of how many microtasks I can squeeze in before other things like food, hygiene, and sleep fill the remaining minutes. Laughably, one of those tasks is supposed to be logging my work hours, an assignment where I am horribly delinquent.

I realize this isn’t remotely unique to residency: anyone currently raising a child can relate, and it is entirely reasonable to focus on meeting the demands of jobs like these. For me, however, considerable angst arises from tension between something that is all-consuming by default, and my personal refusal to succumb to it.