Who has the time?

I mean...seriously?  These days, everyone always seems too busy.  We all have a million things going on, not to mention we're constantly in touch.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Fourquare.  It all takes time out of the precious minutes we have in a day.  And I'm definitely no exception to the rule.

Now that we're all growed up, it seems like no one has time for anything anymore.  Well, I guess there's one 8-hour-a-day reason I can think of: work.  But even when people come home at night (myself included), we all start our second job: completing our to do lists.  Now, maybe not everyone is as busy as me (more on that later), but everyone has things to do.  Exercising.  Reading.  Walking the dog.  Dating.  There's a lot on our plates, and we do our best to do as grandma always said and "clear our plate".  Yea, like THAT will ever happen :-)

If I may get a little nostalgic on ya, I wonder what it would've been like growing up in, I don't know, 1911 instead?  Yea I know, it's weird for a tech guy to be saying this, but just bear with me.  Electricity was still in its infancy.  No TV.  No computers.  No phones (well, there was the telegraph).  Things moved slower back then, just because they didn't have the means to go faster.  They took their time (funny word, huh?) and went about their daily lives.  You had to actually talk to someone in person back then, wow.  I know we still do it, but just so much less.  People might have only known the people in their towns, but they knew them so much better than I bet I know 90% of the people on my friends list.  We have advanced in many ways since then, but I think we may have receded in a few others.  Friends.  Family.  Relationships.   These are some of the most important things in our lives, yet they require something we just don't have nowadays: time.  

Personally, I always thought there was something wrong with me when I had a moment to spare.  A passing five minutes where maybe, just maybe, I could take a break and catch up on it all.  However, instead of taking a moment to stop and appreciate the subtle things that surround me every day, I plugged that free time full of other activities or surfed Twitter.  I felt guilty about having a free moment.  After all, I must be doing something wrong if I have free time, right?  It seems uncool to have free time, like there's something wrong with you.  Am I supposed to be out on the prowl looking for girls when I have free time?  Should I be writing my novel?  Should I be biking? Gah, what the hell am I supposed to do?!

Of course, many people that know me will say I'm busier than most people they know, and I totally agree.  I can't tell you how many times I've told someone "I'm booked", "My calendar's full" and "Sorry, not tonight."  Excuses after excuses, and I hate doing it.  I've always prided myself on being punctual, and this way of life is not cutting it.  No wonder it's so hard for me sometimes to find people to do stuff, I'm the "boy who cried busy" whenever someone approaches me with something to do.  Shoot, my to do lists (yes plural) just continue to multiply and expand.  Hell, do you know how many blog posts I have outlined on there?  Four!  One of which is this one about time...irony.

Truth is, I like to be busy.  Hell, I guess I could even be considered an addict based on Wikipedia's definition.  Still, I never really thought of it as a bad thing until only recently.  Over the past week, a few things have made it to my to do list that just don't seem like they'll work out.  Things like "work on research ideas for grad school" and "circuit board project for road trip".  I mean, normally things on this list can be done quickly and I can complete a bunch in a day (always a good feeling), but not doosies like these.  No these require...something.  Time?  Well sure, but there's something else missing.  I was feeling a little down about these things and others, mainly because they required...thinking?

What the hell was I saying?  People have always told me I'm a smart guy, and though I'm confident enough today to say I think I am fairly bright, the idea of thinking about these things seems SO taxing.  Why?  I like doing circuits, I want to come up with a research idea.  However, the idea of trying to find a time slot for activities like that just seems out of this world.  "Oh well," I thought, "I already have a million hobbies, why not just pencil it in for bits and pieces here and there?"  Because Matt, that just doesn't work.  I've already tried to do that with my novel, writing 30 minutes a night (already enough of a crunch) and the result has been a very slow and fragmented creative process, if you call forcing yourself to write creative.  No, something's gotta change, but what?

And then I finally found a moment (dunno where) to sit down and start on my latest eBook, another hobby on the back burner.  It's a book I found randomly in Half Moon Bay one day called "Hamlet's Blackberry" and it discusses dealing with living in the connected world of today.  I'm by no means recommending it yet, since it could get preachy, but so far it has hit all the points I've been trying to understand.  Mainly, having all these various activities spreads us so thin, that we lack depth in many of the things we do.  That's it!  When we lack depth, we just scrape the surface of the things we do, not getting the chance to experience the deeper enjoyment out of becoming engrossed by an activity.  Ah ha!

So what is a guy (or girl) to?  Well, I have to read another 200 pages before I find out, but in the meantime, I've determined one thing: I want time.  Time to screw around again, to enjoy those things I love, to hangout with people and perhaps connect with them much better.  All these years I thought I had to keep busy to enjoy life.  Maybe I had it backwards.  No, I'm not going to become a hermit :-P, but I AM going to try a little experiment.

First of all, pair down my activities list.  Just thinking of my friends' interests, I don't think anyone I know really tries to do the wide array of things I do.  I started to write a list of things I do and things I enjoy and it just kept going:

  • Road Biking
  • Hiking
  • Traveling
  • Writing
  • Volunteering
  • Being "Green"
  • Working with circuits
  • Blogging
  • Inventing/thinking of stuff
  • etc...
Shoot, "social life" isn't even sad.  Most people that I know seem to really focus on one thing they really like to do, and they dedicate most of their to that thing (or even that person).  I think I need to try that as well; no more having my hands dipped in a million things.  Time to submerge myself into a few things I really like.

Second, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, time to shelve you guys for a bit.  Why? Well, our age group has it especially bad.  With the Information Age, we have also been exposed to an unlimited channel of data through our phones, computers, TVs and all the other fun gadgets we can waste our time with.  Not to mention the myriad of websites out there that will gladly take a few minutes of our time.  What's even more amazing is how connected we are.  It still amazes me that I can login to Facebook on any given day and see 6 posts from friends all over the world who I met in Europe.  So cool!  However, all this information processing on a day-to-day takes time and makes us reliant on that information.  Yes, I totally agree that Facebook is an addiction (and frankly I'm afraid I'm heading for that route).  We crave every little tweet, every txt, every 'like' that comes floating our way.  John just wrote he's taking a crap as his status...sure it's stupid, but did you read it?  My point exactly, we crave all this information even though we might not like it.

Now, I'm not here to denounce all technology.  That's ridiculous; I'm a gadget guy for pete's sake!  I know how cool all this stuff is and it HAS helped us in so many ways.  However, I think it has taken up even more of our precious time and it all needs to be taken in moderation.  Facebooking once a day, not logging in every 10 minutes to check your wall.  Sending a text message here or there instead of firing off 10 in a row.  Maybe just taking a break and enjoying dinner, not rushing to check in to get the latest badge on 4sq.  Social networking and technology is awesome, I just think we need to tune out every once and a while.  Call me depressed, socially awkward, "old school", I don't care.  I'm not, I just find this whole issue fascinating.  Not only by how much people mull it over, but how much it effects my own day-to-day.

Starting Monday, I'm not going to login for a week and see how it goes.  Who knows, maybe I'll even extend it :-)

Again, this is just something I want to try.  It's not because I'm depressed or sad or something else.  I'm curious to see what it's like to go back and live like it's 2003 :-P

Whew!  Okay, now only 3 more blogs to go!  I'll be in touch on my blog, and you can always IM, call or text me (or even talk to me in person!), but don't expect me to respond to tweets or posts.  I know nobody really will care, but that's not the point :-)  This is not about making a statement, it's about seeing if I can actually live a better life when I have more time and less distraction.

See you on the other sidel :-)


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