Time Famine II: Are you hungry for more hours in your day?
“All my possessions for a moment of time.” That’s what Queen Elizabeth said as she expired in 1603. Liz had time famine even though she didn’t have to respond to 127 emails. It’s amazing how much time it takes to powder your wig!
I recently ran across an article from Time Magazine on how we are overwhelmed, overscheduled and overwrought by the volume and speed of the demands on our time.
The article states that:
• Everything is accelerated.
• The family dynamic has changed. Yes. Boys and Girls. In the olden days, families sat down at the dinner table together every night. The only buzzing heard was not a cell phone, but the kitchen timer announcing the readiness of the Swanson Chicken Pot Pies.
• The pressures to get excellent reviews at work and as a parent have families at a breaking point.
• Simple pleasures such as reading a juicy novel, baking from scratch and walking instead of driving short distances have diminished if not disappeared.
Did I mention that this article came out in 1989? For twenty-seven years, we’ve been feeling the time crunch. (One thousand thirteen years if you follow Queen Elizabeth.)
If the article were revised today, what would it say about being reachable 24/ 7? What would it say about the speed of the internet? How about downsizing and doing the work of two? And, if you have student loan debt for your degree in Swedish Studies or something else equally profitable, you could be doing the work of three.
What’s distressing to me is that we haven’t made much progress. In fact, we’ve added many more items to our to-do lists. I was recently chided for having a flip phone. The expectation is that if you’re cool, up to date and professional, you must have a smart phone. I know me. I love the internet. I’d be on that phone as much as safe driving would allow. I’d miss outdoor concerts, dinner conversation, chatting with friends, lying on the grass staring at clouds, and making eye contact.
We’ve added expectations to our list that make us even hungrier for a bit of time. Shockingly white teeth were not a goal 27 years ago. Think of the hours spent now applying those white strips. Upgrading and downloading can take half a day. Just the checking of the progress of the upgrading and downloading can take big bites out of your time. Don’t talk to me about buffering. I’ve got to see the latest doggie antics on You Tube and it’s taking forever to load.
How about being on hold? Deciding if you want your message in English or Spanish? Yelling “Assistance. Assistance. Assistance” at a recording that doesn’t care.
I take great delight in planning complicated trips. I peruse the cheap flights, cheap lodging and cheap eats. I MapQuest myself into a frenzy. Can you spell TRAVEL AGENT? My mom, dad, brother and I took a six-week road trip when I was 12. You read that right. Six weeks of getting punched in the arm by my big brother. There were no videos or even audio books to entertain us. There were no video games. The only thing we had for distraction was the license plate game. And, the punching.
I remember my dad got a TripTik travel planner from AAA. Some knowledgeable travel agent put together the map, the stops, the hotel or motel reservations and restaurant suggestions. This wasn’t online. This was real paper from trees.
My father’s job was to drive, pay for things and yell, “If I have to tell you to stop fighting one more time, I’m going to turn this car around.” He didn’t even have to fill the tank with fuel. He could relax while an attendant in a uniform filled the tank, washed the windshield and checked the oil.
No. I’m not a fuddy-duddy who wants to go back to the good old days. (My dad said to me one time, “What was so good about the good old days?”) But, some things are not to be missed and are going to be missed if we don’t stop, look, listen and breathe.
The article suggests taking a lax attitude toward housekeeping. I embraced that long before this article came out. I used to oil my paneling every three months before I started working full time. It hasn’t been oiled in years and it isn’t peeling off the walls yet. My dear mother-in-law was very organized. She used to label everything. She’d divvy up a gallon of ice cream into individual servings and label them “Ice Cream.” The joke around my house is that if you’re looking for leftover anything, it’s in the container marked “applesauce.”
Sorry Queen Elizabeth. No one can give you a moment of time in your day. The only remedy for time famine is to do less, do it quicker, prioritize, delegate or skip it (see paneling). Check your time wasters and your time suckers. If you’re hungry for more time, do what my dad did when he pulled into a gas station. He cranked open the window (good range of motion exercise) and yelled, “Fill ‘er up!”
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