Happier without time?

Would we be happier without timepieces?

I’ve been reading a book on millenarianism and apolcalypticism, and stumbled across this quote:

I realise that there would be a thousand reasons why this could never be practical or make our current lifestyles workable. Beyond this, as a thought experiment, would we be happier without the ability to measure time relatively precisely and the resultant pressures to use it in particular ways and to set ‘deadlines’?

I knew I would spell one of those words wrong. Apocalypticism.

Theres always been deadlines for things they were just seasonal or based on dates

Like " We’ve got to plant/harvest the crop before the rains/frost ect or "we have to get finished before dark "

There were also dead lines in the middle ages of when you have things done for your lord or his tribute ect

So theres always been pressures about time they didnt begin to be as measured as time is now until the industrial revoloution

I’ve always favored the idea of switching to a 48-hour day. Sure, the farmer would still have to work at each dawn to get the crop on time, even if there were two dawns per day. The rest of us, however, could lay in luxury for a 24 hour period alternating with 24 hour periods that contain workdays. We would be consuming twice as much food per workday, of course, but I imagine the rest of the economy would adapt to the new levels of income.

Anyways, I think the sentiment expressed in the OP is a wise one. I consider myself a lazy man, not on the Lebowski scale, but lazy nonetheless. I can’t understand the GOGOGOGOGO mentality. I think at the very least we should alleviate the hurriedness of society by adopting the custom of Spain where they nap for 2 hours every afternoon and close all the shops.

I’m thinking more about “what if there was no way to tell the time precisely” than about changing divisions of the clock or calendar. Obviously we can tell nights from days, seasons and so on, but what if we could be no more precise than that?

The author describes Pepys as never having had appointments, but as hanging around coffee shops or offices hoping to catch up with the people he meant to see. What impact would this inability to precisely measure the day have on the quality of people’s lives (the commercial impact apart)?

I don’t think we could do that now. The world is too complex, and anyway, who wants to wait around in an office all day just in case a customer or service agent shows up? Look at the utility companies. Don’t you hate it when they say “we’ll be there sometime between noon and 5 but we can’t say exactly when.” If they could say exactly when they would show up, or even within an hour, people could make other plans. As it is we just have to hope they show up early. I don’t wear a watch but I know I can always find out what time it is pretty easily. I enjoy not knowing the time on the weekend when I’m out taking pictures or hanging around a bookstore, but there are occasions when I need to know what time it is (such as when I get up in the morning to go to work).
I too consider myself a lazy person, but a positive lazy person. I try to think of the easiest way of doing things so I don’t have to work too hard. As a result I find I can be more efficient.

I realise we couldn’t do it in today’s world; I’m wondering if we would be happier if we hypothetically could.

I agree somewhat that the “have to get it done this minute” thing is a genie we should never have let out of the bottle, as it makes many of us miserable much of the time.

I berlieve that man was meant to rise with the sun, hunt and gather what they need to survive, and go to bed when the sun sets. We got off the path somehow…

I also don’t like the idea of taking orders from someone I could kill with my bare hands…seems like a disruption of the natural order…

Then again, I like modern conveniences and dang it, I sure get mad when things I want aren’t delivered on time… (sigh)…

We need that “Connections” guy to chime in on this, then we’d all know the real scoop…


I think that our general reliance on this GOGOGO attitude, as RexDart put it, overall makes our lives happier. As as has been mentioned, the evolution of our economy would not have been possible without it. And I don’t think that our lives would have been able to reach this level of comfort without the type of drive this time-driven mentality requires. People in, say, a third-world African country don’t have these deadlines, sure. But would you rather lead one of those lives of leisure? Also, keep in mind that the time-dependent mindset is unevenly distributed, and the most extreme examples are adopted by choice. The average office worker goes home after 8 hours of work, and can pretty much relax. He probably gets more relaxation time than the farmer of 300 years ago who had to spend his entire day working strenuously, then at the end of a 12-14 hour work session ate dinner and fell asleep, exhausted. Conversely, a programmer for a video game company works 60-70 hour weeks at times, to meet deadlines for his company, and his life is pretty much his work (and this is probably fine by him, but still, he “relaxes” far less than others). His work gets translated into A.) a cool game for someone to play during their leisure time, and B.) profits for his company, which boosts the economy, further increasing the general level of prosperity in his society.

Basically, I think without an ability to tell time down to the minute, our lives would all be substantially rougher.