Note — Oct 16, 2022

The Diminishing Returns of Calendar Culture

Anne Helen Petersen on monochronic and polychronic time, the use of digital calendars, shared calendars, power moves in academia and elsewhere, and who ends up with the heavy lifting and constraints around it all.

Great read (via Keely in the Sentiers Discord) and I encourage all of you to read it and ponder how you use time and fall in line with productivity culture. Parts of the piece reminded me of a tweet that made the rounds early in the pandemic, something like “stop blaming yourself for ‘failing,’ the system/economy is not built for two parents working, especially not at home.” One grave issue with monochronic/hustle culture and the pressures of capitalism is that it becomes so ingrained in us that we blame ourselves when we fail to fit that very narrow and un-diversified mould.

Through the commitment to busyness and its organization, we inscribe and reinscribe a certain understanding of time onto our children, onto each other, onto ourselves. We discipline our messy, distracted, inquisitive, emotive selves into the most valuable possible forms of human capital possible. We suggest that sort of regimentation is not only possible (just organize harder!) but aspirational. […]

How, in other words, would you make a calendar that accommodated “the life of the mind” but also respected and equalized that work with those who foster the environment that makes that life possible? What about a calendar rooted in solidarity instead of individuality, or community instead of the family unit? […]

I’m drawn to Ross Zurowski’s articulation of long calendars and short seasons as a way to think through periods of waxing and waning intensity and focus, particularly when it comes to episodic/project-based work.