Empathy depends on your ability to overcome your own perspective, appreciate someone else’s, and step into their shoes. Self-control is essentially the same skill, except that those other shoes belong to your future self—a removed and hypothetical entity who might as well be a different person. So think of self-control as a kind of temporal selflessness. It’s Present You taking a hit to help out Future You.
Yet as the historian Ruth Cowan demonstrates in her 1983 book More Work for Mother, the result, for much of the 20th century, was not an increase in leisure time among those charged with doing the housework. Instead, as the efficiency of housework increased, so did the standards of cleanliness and domestic order that society came to expect. Now that the living-room carpet could be kept perfectly clean, it had to be; now that clothes never needed to be grubby, grubbiness was all the more taboo. These days, you can answer work emails in bed at midnight. So should that message you got at 5.30pm really wait till morning for a reply?
A particularly relevant read as we roll into January. It’s a month of declaring resolutions and setting goals for self-improvement – including time management and productivity, according to Google Trends.
Travel is more interesting and exciting when there’s a purpose behind it. Landscape photography is one of the things that can give you that sense of purpose.
If you want to be the best at anything, you need to be the best at practicing and iterating more than anyone else and knowing when to let go. Perfection is an endless productivity loop.