There are two forms of time, as author Robert Greene once put it: Alive Time and Dead Time.
Alive time is the time where you are taking action. You are creating, making, experimenting, and most importantly enjoying your work.
These are the moments when you are inspired. You are at your peak of productivity and creativity. This is what you live for.
On the other hand, dead time is the time where you are passive. You are analyzing, rationalizing, making excuses, and most probably are miserable.
These are the moments when you are defeated. You see no point in it all. You are uninspired and unhappy. You live in your head instead of in the world. The only way you get by is ignorance, by using distractions like TV or movies or social media or games. Anything but taking action.
It sounds silly to ever spend a second more than we have to in dead time, yet it happens far too often. Why? Because we are often searching for that perfect moment to act. Or we are making excuses. Or we are afraid.
Whatever it is, we talk ourselves out of taking action.
The worst thing in life that you can have is a job that you hate, that you have no energy in, that you’re not creative with and you’re not thinking of the future. To me, might as well be dead.Robert Greene
I believe there are two key lessons found in this idea of alive and dead time.
1. Don’t get caught being dead
The ideal scenario is to always be operating in alive time. The key then is to be aware when that’s not the case.
If you do a post-mortem of your day, you can recognize when you failed to act or what made you feel miserable and find ways to change it. By identifying the root cause, you can take the necessary steps to feel alive again.
This is a constant effort, as its easy to fall into the trap of comfort and routine. Always assess what you are doing and why.
2. If you are in dead time, find ways to make it worth living
I think it would be a blatant lie or maybe an alternative fact, to say that we should never be miserable in life. Sometimes, we simply have to do things that we hate.
In those situations we have a choice: do we simply accept the dead time or do we find ways to make it worthwhile.
What this means is we must discover the hidden opportunities that are always present. Despite the shit, there is a needle in the haystack that can still make any experience a useful one. That is what you need to focus on.
What kills the creative force is not age or lack of talent but our own spirit, our own attitude.Robert Greene
The future is not just something that happens. It is something we make. How we spend our time has a massive impact on that future.
So don’t settle for dead time. And when you can’t avoid it, make the most of it and find the silver lining.
If you don’t, you might as well be dead.