Personal Productivity

Fast and slow time

Can you nod in agreement when it comes to interruptions and unfair work tasks? Get more out of the slow time and increase your efficiency.

2 Mar 2017 | 3 min read
Trine Kolding
Denmark’s leading expert within efficiency and planning. At TimeLog, Trine Kolding shares tips and tricks, makes you more efficient, teaches you about time and increases your personal productivity.

Out of bed, make myself ready for work, drive the children to school. The brain is already working: What are my goals for today? At the office, I first need to answer a few important emails before I get to the tasks of the day. I might as well just browse through the other e-mails that have found their way into my inbox, then it is taken care of. 

In the meantime, a few customers get back to me with new questions. I respond immediately. And then I get started with the daily tasks! But first, the phone rings. An urgent task. Lunch. Then more e-mails. A few fires. I look at the to do list and realise that it is impossible to manage everything today. The time is now 4.30 PM and I am going home. Luckily, there is a new, fresh day tomorrow…


The fast time rules


Can you nod in agreement to the description of this workday? When speedy moments take over the plans of the day, and the ”fast time” rules. Thomas Hylland Eriksen, social anthropologist and professor at the university in Oslo, puts focus on the side effects of the information society and the apparent time saving and efficient technology in the book “Øjeblikkets tyranni” (the moment’s tyranny), and at the same time he introduces the terms Fast and Slow time:

Fast time is fragmented and divided into short moments, when we zap from one task to the other. When we are bombed with information, cell phones, e-mails, newspapers, zap from one TV station to the other, websites. When we do not have time to do what we are working on in a proper manner, because there are constantly 10 new urgent tasks waiting in line.

Slow time has a natural and cohesive rhythm. Slow time is time slots of un-interrupted time; time for contemplation, reflection, to do one thing at a time and finish it. When the timer is in the drawer, and the time is without pressure.

The book is not a one-sided attack on the technological development. On the contrary, Thomas Hylland Eriksen encourages people to think in both/and opportunities and exploit the many benefits. We can only do this by raising awareness about the technology’s pitfalls, and by making time for more of the slow time. 

What can you do already today to get more of the slow time? 

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