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No spare time in lockdown? That’s not such a bad thing

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Coronavirus is teaching us how to focus on the tasks that matter

From the minute we went into lockdown, there’s been a lively discussion, online and elsewhere, about how to fill all our extra spare time. We parents of small children permitted ourselves a hollow laugh at that (before immediately worrying that the hollow laugh was turning into a dry cough). Because for us, there was suddenly no time at all. Every waking second was accounted for, so the advice that we might seize this opportunity to reread the novels of Jane Austen or dust off our half-written screenplays felt deeply surreal – and therefore, I suppose, entirely in keeping with the times.

There’s nothing new about people having radically different quantities of time, of course – nor about the fact that time inequality doesn’t line up with economic inequality. (Low-income workers and senior executives wish they had more time; unemployed people and super-wealthy layabouts would be happier with less.) But never before has the distribution of time divided my social circle so sharply, providing another reminder that this thing we’re all doing these days is, in fact, a completely different thing, depending on who you are – rich or poor, parent or not, nurse or novelist, homebody or compulsive socialiser.

Now I rarely doubt I’m spending my time on things that matter. Not because I’m a time-management ninja – I’ve no choice

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