What does it mean to “save time?”
I spotted an article the other day on LinkedIn that proposed “Seven Ways to Save an Hour a Day.” Knowing that a couple of my clients are working at how to better manage their time, I clicked on it, curious if there was something worth applying.
Unfortunately, the article simply featured seven new “time-saving” smartphone applications (all of which, in adhering to the fad, were missing at least one vowel from their name).
I’m no Luddite when it comes to integrating applications that support my work; on many levels, we simply do work smarter (and, yes, faster), with more of a global perspective and freed of mundane activity as a reward for technology. Still, I try not to lose sight of how I want to work, rather than acquiesce my philosophy to some developer’s notion of how things ought to be done. At times, it means bracing myself against a tsunami, but I am unwavering amid the tide.
Still, what does it mean to “save time?” Save time for what? Let’s say one of those seven applications really did save you an hour a day – what would you do with it?
When I lived out in Las Vegas years ago, a woman at a casino won $22 million on slots. After processing all the paperwork and posing for the publicity photo, she sat right back down at the slot machine and started pumping quarters again. Habit, at times, is biology’s answer to a lobotomy.
Are we really doing something different with all the time we have saved over the last two decades of “time-saving” technology? For the most part, we fill (spend) that time doing more of the same things, just more efficiently or in a more condensed manner. A bit insidiously, I wonder if we are drawn to doing more of the same things just because it’s so satisfying to be able to do them absent the toil of the past. Moths to the flame.
Essentially, you have to question whether we are “saving” time if all we do is turn around and spend it on the same activities from which we sought relief. I suggest this spending pattern comes at a deeper cost.
Save time – Rest
To far too many people, the word feels quaint, indulgent, warranting a defense. It is as if we “earn” our rest by working hard, but then we don’t really rest and we don’t really get away. Rest is something that almost intrudes on our sense of productivity; it’s an interval that feels like it costs us, that we have to work all the harder to redeem the loss.I’d like to turn that belief on its ear and suggest that restoring the place of rest in our lives is at the heart of being more productive, of growing, of learning. Ask anyone devoted to their physical conditioning and they’ll tell you the body builds strength after the workout, not during. The brain—and, metaphorically, the heart—are no different.
Rest, in its most embracing definition, could be retreat, it could be spending time with a coach or friends, stepping back and thinking afresh, or simply skipping stones on a lake. But it has to be different, and the flow of energy associated with it needs to be inward, not outward.
Look at our calendars. No matter what we say to ourselves and others, that calendar reveals our priorities.
Getting that healthy rhythm, that homeostasis in our intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical lives is a balance of extremes — purposeful activity and purposeful rest — or you betray the purpose of each.