2 min read

in sync vs. out of sync behavior

in sync vs. out of sync behavior

concept from Four Thousand Weeks (great book) but putting my own spin on it

many people these days want control over their time - individual time sovereignty. people want the ability to set their own schedules. e.g. retire early, so you don't have to work a 9 to 5 and thus have control over your time.

we generally see this as desirable, but Oliver Burkeman argues there's undesirable qualities to it. he links it to how digital nomads can feel lonely. you have time, but since you're out of sync with social rhythms, the time you have isn't necessarily as fulfilling.

he also talks about how in a Swedish study, they found people took the fewest antidepressants specifically not when they alone were on vacation, but rather when they and the entire workforce was on vacation. and he mentions how Russia at some point went for a labor schedule where everyone had a day off every fifth day, but everyone was staggered so no one was off at the same time. people could never see their friends as a result.

I remember reading about the pros/cons of digital nomad life, and how opting out of social rhythms like getting married/having kids, the 9 to 5 job, living in one place definitely has some cons. One big con is that the time you have might not be as satisfying if you're out of sync with everyone

I've made some choices that were "out of sync" behavior. e.g. my senior year of college i only spent one quarter in San Diego, and other 9 months i was off in different cities. i gained a lot from it and i would do it all over again. but i also missed out on the shared experience of senior year a bit.

Out of sync behavior can be positive too. I remember David Perell talking to Ana Lorena Fabrega about their mutual friend who was homeschooled. I think they said she was really interesting partly because of that experience. She had unconventional interests and went deep on them, and they just thought she was really cool.

When I make decisions, I want to think about whether in sync or out of sync behavior is what I want to value.

But generally, I want to bias towards more commitments that remove flexibility from my schedule, "in exchange for the rewards of community, by joining amateur choirs or sports teams, campaign groups or religious organizations."

What kind of freedom do we really want when it comes to time? On the one hand, there’s the culturally celebrated goal of individual time sovereignty — the freedom to set your own schedule, to make your own choices, to be free from other people’s intrusions into your precious four thousand weeks. On the other hand, there’s the profound sense of meaning that comes from being willing to fall in with the rhythms of the rest of the word: to be free to engage in all the worthwhile collaborative endeavors that require at least some sacrifice of your sole control over what you do and when.