Home / Book Report | Time + How To Spend It x James Wallman

Book Report | Time + How To Spend It x James Wallman

By Carrie Dorr

I loved this book, despite its’ not seeming that popular on Amazon. James Wallman investigates the persistent problem of wasted, unfulfilling time, and finds a powerful answer—an approach to life based on the revelation that you can actively choose better experiences. Below is the content I found most impactful. Happy Reading!

* The rise of Superfoods says as much about us as it does our food
We want to get the most our of life, and, actually everything. When we shop, we want our money to go as far as possible. When we invest- we want our returns as high as possible. When we go to the gym- we eat to get as much for our health as possible. When we eat, we want nutritional bang for every bite. We don’t want junk food. We put so much time and energy in to what we put in to our bodies, doesn't it make as much sense to think about what we do with our time? If we try to avoid junk foods and empty calories, because we know real food is better for us, shouldn’t we also avoid junk and empty experiences and invest our time in real super experiences instead? [Experiences that are junk/empty- they look fancy and appealing but actually aren’t nurturing at all]

* There is no wifi in Nature but you’ll get a better connection
Getting outside into nature is really good for every one of us, it turns the volume down on stuff no one wants. It reduces stress. It makes people feel less hostile. It decreases depressive symptoms. It lowers cortisol, blood pressure and heart rate. It helps us feel less fatigued. Getting outside in nature turns up the good things too- it helps people sleep better, it stimulates the all-important parasympathetic part of the nervous system, the rest and digest system and it gives people a sense of vigor, a feeling of liveliness.

We are happier in nature because our species has spent 99% of its’ existence in nature. We are hard wired to find the sights, sounds and smells of nature relaxing and pleasant.

Are you getting outside enough? How can you design our life to spend more time outside?

* To tune in you need to turn off
Fido comes when you call, you give him a cookie. Kids clean up their legos, you give them a yay. This is called Operant conditioning. It’s the same conditioning behind the most addictive invention- the whirring, beeping, light-flashing machines in Las Vegas. The book Addiction by Design explains that these inventions are far from innocent. Rewards are a great way to motivate people and an even better and more addictive if people don’t know what they’re going to get or when they’re going to get it. Our devices and social media are so addictive, they can be called Electronic morphine. What begins as an innocent “just checking” every now and then, because you are rewarded each time with an email or a “like”, and you never quite know what you are going to get, causes you to check far more often. Thanks to simple operant conditioning, the habit becomes stronger and stronger until it’s almost instinctive- and then you, like billions of others are addicted.

* Designed to Addict
A Google employee in product design felt when he began working at Google the mission was to build products that function well and help people. He claimed the mission changed to designing products to get people’s attention and hold them there. He began to wonder if all this persuasion was ethical and wrote an employee memo which 5,000 employees read. Sited the book- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Google then made him the first Design Ethicist. He accepted but later felt the position was “for show”, left and started the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology.

* Relationships
Humans are social animals. Choose and design experiences that are more likely to bring you closer to others because they give us a sense of belonging.

* Intensity
We often think we’ll be happier when we’ve got our work done and our feet up, taking it easy- but that’s wrong. Humans are happier when we’re fully engaged, taking on an intensely difficult challenge that focuses all of our energy. This is called flow. To get the benefits of real flow, you have to take on a task that’s intensely challenging and requires full body awareness- where you are completely in the zone and present. It’s immersive- play a sport, be crafty!

* Experientialism > Materialism
We live in a culture that values Materialism, which is actually bad for wellbeing. If you choose experimentalism rather than materialism as your guiding star, you’ll be part of the solution to today’s materialistic culture. By increasing your experience intelligence you’ll have richer, happier days and help create a better, happier society for all.