just a minute!
with all this time-saving technology, why do i feel like i'm always falling behind?
by adam kraemer
I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, whose boyfriend is constantly complaining to her that he doesn't have enough time to do anything. He doesn't have enough time to do his homework for grad school. He doesn't have enough time to talk to her for more than 15 minutes a day (they live about three hours apart). He doesn't have enough time to relax at all.
Except that he spends four or five nights a week at the bar with his buddies.
Yeah, my friend's boyfriend is a douchebag.
I only mention this so that when I say right now that I have no time for anything, you, dear reader, will understand that I'm well aware that there are some people who use this refrain as a cop-out for actually taking responsibility for one's life.
I'm not even supposed to be here today.
I actually don't have time. Well, an hour or an evening here or there, I admit, but not really. It's gettin' pretty ugly.
To give you an example of how little time I have, this column was supposed to run on Monday, Aug. 6. And even as I'm writing it, my second deadline was the beginning of this week. I'm not a bad man; I swear.
(Editor's Note: We still love you. Just don't do it again.)
But to prove my point, I'm not likely to finish writing this today. With my old job; no sweat. As a production guy, my job was basically to sit around and wait to be told I could start, well, producing. Actually, there's a good chance my being let go had a lot to do with just how well I took the sitting around part to heart.
My new job, however, leaves me with very little downtime. I can't work on my column. I can't keep up with my MySpace correspondence. I might actually have to watch my TV shows on TV, rather than the Web.
I do have to say the day goes a lot faster for it.
I was thinking, though, that one promise of technology was that of saving time. Computers allow us to work faster, communicate around the world at blazing speeds, and quickly find the lyrics to any song we can think of. Cars are faster; trains are faster. And yet I still find myself arriving places 10 minutes late.
Take my second job, for example (second job, yes. Did I mention I have no time?). They recently installed a fingerprint-reading time clock. Just hit "clock in," punch in your i.d. number, hit enter, hold your thumb to the reader, wait until the print is okayed, hit enter again. Yes, that seems much simpler than signing your name on a sheet with the time next to it.
As I think about it, all this technology is actually creating more work for us and slowing us down - just at a faster pace. Another example from my night job: they recently added software to computers that allows us to watch any channel at any time on any computer. So what does that mean for the editors? It means we have to actually watch the shows we're editing (I don't have time to explain it all right now). Watching the shows, you guessed it, takes more time than just the editing alone.
Even e-mail, which allows us to communicate pretty much immediately with whomever we want (except that girl who never writes me back), has actually slowed down our productivity. Sure, we no longer have to wait two days to find out about a new amazing breakthrough in penis enlargement, but I think most of us were probably okay letting the Magna Rx people do their thing in private. The e-mails we do want - or need - are in front of us with alacrity. All the time. Half my day these days seems to be sifting through e-mails. And not just at work. There's my Earthlink account, my Gmail account, my Yahoo! account (which I never use), an old RoadRunner account, my Tufts alumni account, my RewardTV account, etc., etc., etc. No wonder I never find time to do anything.
Of course, it's not just the computer that takes up all of the minutes of my day. There's the DVR.
I hear some of you giggling knowingly.
The DVR, for those who don't know, is basically the cable company's version of TiVo, i.e., a device that allows you to record TV shows without the use of a VCR or even without actually needing to be anywhere nearby. You can program the DVR to record the entire season of, let's say "Scott Baio is 45 and Single," and like clockwork, it'll record. Saves you time, right? Fast forward through commercials, watch whenever you want, right? Except that I just pointed out the flaw in that logic, which is you're recording "Scott Baio is 45 and Single."
I don't know about you, but if I had to tune in every week at the exact time to watch this show, there's no way in hell. However, by pressing the "Record Entire Series" button, it's now available to me whenever I want. Which means that instead of, I don't know, writing this column, I spent Monday night watching Scott Baio whine about a life most of the rest of us would probably kill for. I don't know if Charles is in charge, but I, apparently, am not.
From computer malfunctions to subway malfunctions to wardrobe malfunctions, time savers consistently turn into time wasters. I can download music and movies on my computer?! I can write a letter in any font I want and add art and background images?! I can use my phone to send a text message to anyone?! They can text me back?! I can put together a fantasy football league made up entirely of the Philadelphia Eagles and LaDanian Tomlinson and then get advice from John Madden on whether to use the cover three defense or just use Brian Dawkins to blitz every play?! I can't imagine that any of those would take up my time.
For the record, I was right when I said above that I wouldn't likely finish the column the day I started it. Or, as it turns out, the day after that. No, the column runs tomorrow and I'm just now finishing it up. I just keep hearing the Guess Who song "No Time" running through my head: "No time for a gentle rain/No time for my watch and chain/No time for revolving doors/No time for the killin' floor...." That's right. I have no time whatsoever for the killin' floor. Whatever that means.
The thing is, for me, most of my time is just taken up with my two jobs plus a few freelance things I do on the side. When I'm not working, I'm probably trying to take a nap. Sometimes both, simultaneously. Which rarely works.
I know this schedule can't last forever. To quote Roger Murtaugh, I'm getting too old for this shit. I yawn a lot. That said, my esteemed publisher and editor here at Intrepid Media will likely be gratified to know that I plan on hitting my deadlines with greater accuracy from now on. (Editor's Note: Rock!)
And me? Well, I've already taken a half-hour to finish this. I gotta go back to work. And if anybody finds my candle, could you return it to me? It's the one burning at both ends.
A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
8.17.07 @ 3:50p
hey, thanks for the reminder - sorry I keep forgetting to write you back, but I seem to have no time to check email these days...
8.17.07 @ 7:12p
This spoke to me in ways I can't even explain. I really have a hard time managing technological "tools." Especially e-mail.
"Yeah, my friend's boyfriend is a douchebag.",
Waaaay too funny, this.
" which is you're recording "Scott Baio is 45 and Single."
OH! Read my upcoming column!!
(ETA: I didn't even have time to proof this before posting, resulting in an error, resulting in a correction. Time management fails again!)
8.17.07 @ 7:19p
Lifehacker is a blog that often posts tips to make you more productive. (Unfortunately, who has time to read another blog?)
They often link to Merlin Mann, the productivity guru who, I think, advocates setting your mailer's preferences to only check for new mail every hour or two (or even once a day!).
8.20.07 @ 2:26p
Yeah, that'll definitely go over well with the writers and editors who e-mail me stories throughout the day.
8.20.07 @ 3:28p
Good heavens. Scott Baio is 45 and single. I'm amazed he had enough time to whine and create a show about it!
8.24.07 @ 10:40a
He just needs to stop dating girls who have slept with Hugh Hefner.
8.24.07 @ 4:37p
Uh, somehow, the Playboy Mansion is infintely cooler than post-"Charles in Charge" angst.
8.25.07 @ 8:19a
Now let's take a look at the killing floor. Don't let the name throw you, Jimmy. It's not really a floor, it's more of a steel grating that allows material to sluice through so it can be collected and exported!
Hi. I'm Troy McClure. You might remember me from such self help films as "Smoke Yourself Thin" and "Get Some Confidence, Stupid"!
8.25.07 @ 10:14a
"The hurrieder I go the behinder I get." (-an old PA Dutch proverb) Some sage philosopher, or psychologist, said that the more you do the more you are able to do. I don't know about that, but I use a dual core computer with 2 monitors, grow Bonsai trees, consult computer technology, read, and find time to take a nap every day. I rarely stay up 'til the wee hours any more. I make time for fishing. By the way, I enjoy the Harry Potter books. Maybe that's the answer!