How I Spend My Time: A Particle Zoo Approach

How I Spend My Time: A Particle Zoo Approach

I was thinking about how to characterize how I spend blocks of time. For a while I’ve been focusing on decreasing the amount of time I spend being entertained and increase the amount of time I spend being creative. More recently it’s been clear that there are a few other kinds of activities beyond creating and consuming. Maybe if I come up with a taxonomy of time it might be helpful in some way.

The fundamental particles that make up the atoms and the forces of the universe are called fermions and bosons. Quantum physicists call the collection of these particles the particle zoo.

The quantum particle zoo

Could I come up with a few fundamental kinds of actions, like a particle zoo of time?

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Please note that these are not mutually exclusive and many activities are a combination of these basic building blocks.

  • Creating: That means spending time making stuff. Writing, building, coding etc… When you’re done you have something to show for your effort.
  • Consuming: This is putting something into your mind (not your body, that’s a different kind of thing). Watching movies or TV is consuming. So is listening to music or podcasts or reading news, books or magazines.
  • Care: This is taking care of yourself and/or others. Making and eating dinner is care. So is sleeping.
  • Communicating: Talking or writing to people.
  • Carousing: Having fun. Playing.
  • Contemplation: Thinking, meditating, praying, staring off into space.

So watching the big game with friends is a combination of consuming the game, communicating with friends and carousing. Rehearsing a play is a combination of communication and creation. Eating dinner with the family is communication and care while eating alone and scrolling through news on your phone is care plus consuming.

Obviously, these are all important things to spend some time doing. In the distraction economy we live in, billions of dollars and huge amounts of brain power are spent on directing our time towards consuming. Most of us could cut back on that one and allocate more time towards creating, communication and care.

In physics, all the particles have anti-particles. The same thing happens in my system. These categories that I just outlined are the productive activities. The anti-productive versions are:

  • Anti-Creating = Destroying: Ruining things on purpose.
  • Anti-Consuming = Hoarding: Maybe rabbit-holing is a better term. Consuming stuff that you don’t enjoy. Many people do this with the news.
  • Anti-Caring = Harming: Doing things that are bad for you or other people.
  • Anti-Communicating = Withholding: Purposefully not communicating.
  • Anti-Carousing = Suffering.
  • Anti-Contemplating = Ignoring or neglecting. This is being thoughtless or careless or automatic.

Everybody spends some time doing these six negative things or combinations of them. Addicts spend more of their time at these but everyone has a bit of self-destruction in them and I would suggest that most people are addicted or a becoming addicted to consuming entertainment and news to the point of compulsive rabbit-holing.

I think combinations of these elementary ACTICLES (a combo of activities and particles…what do you think?) covers just about every activity I can think of.

  • Gossiping = Harming + Communicating + Withholding (from the object of gossip)
  • Hard partying = Harming + Carousing
  • Playing computer games with friends until 4 in the morning = Communication + Consuming + Carousing + Harming

Not sure what to do with this. It’s pretty clear to me that if you eliminate the anti-acticles (that name sucks, I need a better one) and you balance out the productive ones (the six Cs), life will be better.

Please let me know what you think. Did I leave anything out?

If you got something out of this, please share with your friends!

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