Sunday, April 27, 2008

What you can't afford to waste

Can you tell me something that you never get back? Something that is gone whether you use it effectively or not? If you said time then you're right. It amazes me these days that people constantly claim they don't have enough time yet they fill their existence with useless and wasteful activities. In a era when technology is supposed to set us free what people don't seem to realise is that they are becoming more and more a slave to it.


Most modern technology is designed to be interrupt driven. It is designed to make you stop whatever you are doing and pay attention to it. Don't believe me? What do you do when your mobile phone rings? Answer it. What do you do when an email comes into your inbox? You stop what you are doing to read it. You allow yourself to be on instant messenger not to keep in touch but to allow other people with nothing better to do to interrupt you. Look at things like Facebook and Twitter (which I have been evaluating recently). Are these productivity tools? In some cases maybe but I can tell you I'm sick of getting poked, asked to play Texas Hold'em poker and fight it out in Dope Wars. Don't you people have anything better to do?


See what I mean? We are allowing technology to dominate our lives. We are allowing it to dictate what we are doing. How the hell can you hope to produce anything of quality when you are constantly being interrupted? Don't forget it is not just the interruption that you have to deal with it is the requirement to get back to what you are doing that also takes time. The crazy thing is that technology actually allows us to be in control but we don't seem to use it. Mobile phones have voice mail, emails get saved until we need them and so does stuff on Facebook and Twitter. We however seem in such an almighty rush to respond to thing immediately.


One of the best books I have read recently is The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. He argues we should be working less and enjoying life more. He argues that most people are simply seeking to interrupt your day because they are bored and need something to do and worst of all they expect an instantaneous response. If you read the book and then step back and think about what he is saying you'll find it makes a lot of sense. We all have a 'dance card' (hours in the day) that only is so big and we can only fit so much on it. You need to decide the highest value items that are going on the card and accordingly the lowest value items that don't belong on the list. The only way you are going to fit more onto your 'dance card' is to be more efficient with your time and guess what? Some stuff just ain't going to fit on!


My advice is to start valuing your time more, because if it has no value then you'll give it away for free and people will just keep coming back for your handouts. Focus on what you want to achieve and plan to achieve it. Ask yourself if you are making the best use of your time because, guess what? Even if you aren't you are never going to get it back again!