I start my working day at nine and finish just before midnight. It is a long day. It is the same every day but despite the approaching deadlines it has taken me all day to open the computer and start typing.
There is breakfast, mid-morning coffee, late-morning coffee, shower and then the news. It is not that there is no shortage of things to do and complete. I have a novel half written, this article with a deadline, a few emails that need response, and my nightly letter to my fiancée, Alexandra, in Kiev to complete. That will end up being nearly three thousand words. It may not seem like much for a day’s work, but it tests me.
But my time is well spent, and I don’t think I am not working before my computer is opened because all the time I am thinking about what I am going to write. I am thinking and that is always time well spent.
I worked in the USA for a technology company and watched in dismay as all my colleagues ran around in high activity but with little purpose or thought. They didn’t understand me standing still, taking the time to think. I have always been misunderstood.
I know the reason that I place so much emphasis on thinking. I am lazy. It’s always been the same. Anything I want to do I want to do once and then in the shortest possible time. That requires thought and the best way to do that is, at first, do nothing. As I studied Zen I learnt there is always a ‘just right time’ to act and then success is easiest, and that is rarely right ‘now’.
I have been in the middle crises, in both business and my personal life, and not once wasn’t there time to think and reflect. This Is not an argument for procrastination, or leaving action until the last possible moment, but an argument for acting at the right time.
Whatever, I still find plenty of ways to waste my time and checking Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn wondering how many Followers there are and which of my articles have been Liked. It makes little difference to what I write but it is satisfying.
I am of a generation that spent a teenage life waiting beside land line phones for a girlfriend, or hope to be girlfriend, call. Those hours could be hugely frustrating, sitting around, doing nothing but waiting expectantly for the phone to ring. Was that time well spent?
Probably not, and times have not changed. Research is not clear cut, but studies suggest an average user types, swipes and clicks their phone something between 100 and 140 times – each day! Other studies suggest 2,500 phone interactions each week are nearly the norm.
I was caused to ask this question after learning during the week about the Time Well Spent Institute (http://www.timewellspent.io) who are concerned about how “society is being hijacked by technology”. Talking about smartphones and other technologies they say: “What began as a race to monetize our attention is now eroding the pillars of our society: mental health, democracy, social relationships, and our children.”
They are raising important questions about by the way the technology companies are using deeply disturbing psychological approaches to hook us in. If you think that phone addiction is a habit that can be broken easily, then you are wrong.
The design and structure of many of the applications hit the reward centres of our brains in much the same way as gambling, sex, and love. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others are potentially becoming the main drivers of our life.
I find their work and objectives fascinating and I will revisit it again later.
And now? I must check all my social media accounts, waste some time, finish my letter to Alexandra and think about what I need to do tomorrow.