Living in the Ohs
Friday, December 15, 2006 Yes, of course it's a play on words. But it does make sense. We're living in the 0's or the aughts? or whatever you may want to call them, but the fact still remains, OH! Or Oh brother, or Oh, shit or Omigod, (as may daughter says very often) or Oh, no............ The last few years have been a trip for everyone, I'm sure you will agree. Although, not everyone has been on the same trip, that's for sure. What matters to me, lately, and actually, before lately, is why all of us are so busy? I have been giving the matter considerable thought, trying to somehow get to the bottom of the problem, which I might frame as follows: Why do I have less time now to do the things that I like to do than I did when I was: a. 10 years younger with a small child b. 15 years younger, running a company c. 20 years younger, running a different company d. any time before that. I believe that I have the answer, ladies and gentlemen. Actually, in my opinion, there are two key reasons for why we are all so busy - Scale and Communications Access. I have come to these two points in attempt to boil down the myriad issues to the largest most embracing conditions in our society, from which everything can be assigned or at least blamed. Let me summarize my two macro-anchors as follows: Scale is the tremendous evolution of our society into a global one. Communications access is the ability of any single individual to tap in to any particular aspect of the global world as it may pertain to him or her. So how do these two concepts converge on our daily lives and deprive us of our valuable time? To start, living locally in a global world means that our awareness is being stimulated to take in events, assimilate them and potentially, do something about them. For example, Darfur, Afghanistan, Somalia, New Orleans, Aceh, to name just a few spots around the globe that are household, recognizable places in our personal reservoir. Five years ago, these places and names might have been substituted with others, such as Eritrea, Kandahar, etc. Communications access, in the form of the Internet, cell phone, fax, PDA's, video conferencing, go to meeting. com etc. has blown the lid off boundaries between work life and home life, leisure time and paying-attention-to-what's-going-on-in-the-world time, personal time and personal improvement time, family time and private time. We are bombarded constantly with external "dangers" and catastrophes on a global basis, thanks to 24 hour news feeds via TV and the Net. We are working more and vacationing less. Increased competition on a local, regional, national and global basis also has us worrying more or at least thinking more about work related issues. These thoughts alone absorb a lot of time and mental energy. Acting on the thoughts takes up more time. And then, there's all the distractions that suck up tremendous amounts of time on an ongoing basis. Here's a list of the ones that spring to mind immediately, that are part of the implications of scale and communications access: 1. Reading blogs (Yes, more of us are doing it) 2. Lots of time on the Internet, surfing and shopping 3. Fixing or replacing your computer, printer, fax or cell phone 4. Choosing music to download to your Ipod 5. Downloading music to your Ipod 6. Checking and responding to your email at work 7. Checking and responding to your email at home 8. Checking and responding to your voicemail at work. (At least 5 times a day) 9. Checking and responding to your voicemail at home. (At least 3 times a day) 10. Learning how to use your equipment, ie. new cell phones, new cameras, photoshop, Ipods, PDA's, new software, blue tooth in the car (including programming), learning the navigation system on your car, learning how to work your TV, and actually record something, figuring out TIVO. And lots, lots more. Most of the above activities did not really exist 5 to 10 years ago. Now, they form the structure of our day, and leave us with precious little time left to think or relate to our close friends and family. I left out driving, with the idea that some of us are accomplishing things during this protracted "down time" to chisel away at the above list, so that there's time to eat dinner when you finally arrive home. It does no good to try to hark back to those halcyon days free of cell phones, hundreds of urgent emails and spam. Those days are truly gone. Now, the trick is to learn how to function and be happy in today's scenario. Especially with all of our "time-saving" devices at our side ready to assist us. We are living in a 24/7 world and we must adapt. But how? I'm going to think about it in my spare time. Stay tuned.