Every time I write an article, a short story, or even commence writing a novel, I feel like a thief. With this act, I am suggesting that another soul sets aside her time to read my work and assimilate it, for better or worse. Her time that could have been otherwise spent doing necessary housework, doing paid work, caring for loved ones, reading a better book, or simply communing with our rapidly disappearing nature. With my article, I am robbing my reader of her time.
We live in an abundance of printed matter, available today in various media, but we are facing a famine of time. There are more things we have to do today in order to be counted, or so we believe: we need to hunt for work (the old 9-5 with a pension at the end of the rainbow has vanished); we also need to do the work of five due to the new mantra of “doing more with less”; we need to care for children and elders, both who are living longer in those states; we need to check-in with our myriad followers on social media and keep them advised of every move we make, every meal we eat (replete with pictures); we need to paraphrase, cut & paste or re-tweet news content from prominent people and disseminate it to our followers and thereby promulgate those prominent writers’ fame while proving to our followers that we are still alive, kicking and reading; we need to keep current with consumer trends in case we wear the wrong accoutrements for the wrong occasion; we need to read the latest book on the best seller list to stay relevant on the cocktail circuit, we need...we need...we need to separate “need” from “want” for the two have become inseparable. Unfortunately, the day has only 24 hours, and all these activities have to fit into it. And on top of all that I go and write another article with the implied insinuation: “Read It!”
I wonder whether we can take an example from the corporate world and try to re-engineer our lives to free up some time. Corporate re-structuring happens when fat builds up over time, especially during periods of growth. When the corporate famine occurs – it’s called recession or economic downturn – the re-engineers arrive. Anything and everything that is not “core” to the company’s business is slashed. Out go training programs, investment projects, workplace health, senior employees nearing retirement, consultants, and travel & entertainment. Could this approach be used to re-structure our lives now that we are in a famine of time?
Let’s see, what would I cut or re-structure? I would cut out those peripheral activities that bring little benefit to me. Out will go shopping, the cocktail circuit, the bestseller list (it’s the NY Times’ list – not mine), the re-tweets, the personal GPS (“Shane just checked in at LaGuardia” – I’m not suffering from dementia yet, and no one else gives a rat’s ass about where I am anyway); social media will become optional – I never had it 10 years ago and lived comfortably then. Next comes my reading list; any book that does not get to the point in its first three chapters, is out — sorry, fellow writer, we are living in a famine of time! And most importantly, every time I think of writing something, I will reflect on whether it helps me or another person. If it doesn’t, it gets cut too. Of late, I have been rather silent on Facebook for that reason.
As you may be asking, yes, I did think long and hard before writing this article. I hope it gets you thinking of what you will cut out, otherwise I would have wasted your precious time.