Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What happened to all of our free time?

When I was growing up, a while ago ;-), I remember getting home from school around 3:30pm and then me and some friends would organize a pickup game in the back lot. At that time it seemed like eons before mom was yelling out the back door to come in for supper. I'd rush in and wolf down as much as I could, with my backside barely touching the seat, and fly out the door. We'd get bored with our mini world series and progress on to 'Kick the Can' in the neighbors yard. When the Street lights came on it was time to head inside, and maybe catch an episode of  ALF. So where did all that free time go?

I'm an adult now, with 3 kids, a beautiful wife and a brand new grandson, but the evenings seem so short that I never seem to accomplish the things I need to get done. I used to come home, mow the yard, trim the trees, eat supper, maybe watch a couple of shows on the TV. By then it was time for bed, and I felt I had accomplished something. Then we started acquiring computers, not just one but multiple PC's for everyone in the family, cell phones, Ipods and Tablet PC's. I think the acquisition of these devices is when we started losing our time, and possibly the ability to do things we need to get done.

How much time is wasted?
I didn't really understand until recently how much time is thrown out the window when your doing meaningless things on the computer. When I started blogging a little less than a year ago I thought I would just post once in a while and everything would be just peachy. What I didn't see coming, was how easy it is to get distracted by relatively meaningless things while your on a computer. Number one on my list is someone posting on Facebook, then I of course have to go see what they are saying about me. The next big one is while doing research for an article I would take off on a tangent to check out the newest shiny thing they had on Amazon, and not get back to my writing. If I am prepared, and have all my research in place, I should be able to knock out a couple of articles within and hour or so. If I get sidetracked by social networking and other distractions, I will be lucky to get one article completed in an entire evening.

Where does the time go?
 I was rather curious as to why 4 or 5 posts on Facebook seemed to take an hour of my valuable time. So I sat back and watched my kids on their computers for a little bit. What I realized was that when we are 'Socializing' on the web, for most of that time we are sitting there in a relative trance in anticipation of the next post. Looking through all the irrelevant posts on your news page trying to find something interesting. Or we are simply playing one of the biggest time wasters man has ever seen "FarmVille". (I'll take the heat for that I am sure, but they will know I am right). So this explains the Obesity rise in the nation as of late as well doesn't it? But that's another article.

More Time Wasters.
Ok so now computers have eaten up the majority of my free time in the evening, what could possibly waste any more time? I am going to go back several years to when we didn't have cell phones, PDA's Androids or Tablets. You had 3 major forms of communication. The telephone, which was wired into your wall, and if you didn't answer it was no big deal, you'd get a call back later when you were home. The next was a letter, the predecessor to the E-mail, but you had to sit down, write it out and lick a stamp to send it. The final form was talking, or yelling if they lived close by. I could call you on the phone talk for a minute or so, and we would agree to meet at the park, or where ever was convenient. I could yell out the window to my best friend to see if he wanted to play. That exchange took 15 seconds tops. The letter was reserved for Grandma, that lived out of state.

So what's the comparison today that wastes time? Cell phonse came out and they actually did improve the ability to get in touch with someone. But they also sped up the rate with which we have to have information. Somewhat to the detriment to productivity. But then they added something to Cell phones that completely wiped away that entire productivity boost, Texting!! I feel this is the biggest time waster that has ever been devised. I have watched people spends 30 minutes texting back and forth, and exchange the amount of information that could be handled with a 15 second phone call.

What to do about it?
I will put forth a challenge to everyone to try and implement the following advice. Schedule your computer time so that you know when your going to get on and off the computer for one week. Use a timer if necessary, to make sure you follow the schedule. I set mine up for 1 hour each evening from 6pm to 7pm after supper. I now go to the computer and do what I need to get done, and then I walk away from it.  I removed the apps from my phone and Ipod that allow me to access Facebook and twitter and all the other social networking sites, and I don't access them unless it is in my allotted time.. When I want to ask someone a question I pick up the phone and I call them, if I don't get an answer I leave a voice-mail, and then I move on. They'll call me back later I am sure.

Just doing these very simple things will free up more time than you can possibly imagine. For the first few days you might go through "Internet Withdrawal" This is normal, but you can do it if you try. Enjoy all the time you have for doing everything you always say you never have time to do.

Good luck and enjoy life, now that you have time to live it.


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