Or were you meant to pulse?
If you haven’t already noticed, something’s been troubling me as of late. I cannot understand the inordinate amounts of time people spend working. We’ve gone from telegrams to skype and from the pony express to email. With the clickof a mouse, we can learn how to play any instrument or fix an old Volkswagen. With the Internet in our pockets, we may never be lost again. We live at the speed of information, but has life adjusted accordingly?
I say no. In my mind the greatest potential of these advances is that individuals can do more with less, at increasing speeds. We are able to be highly productive. Today we type with fingertips that can instantly access nearly infinite bodies of knowledge. But should we be doing more work just because we can? Why not use technology to work less and enjoy more? Sure some people enjoy their work, but is it really worth your precious disk space?
A related danger of the merging of online and offline life, says business thinker Tony Schwartz, is that we come to treat ourselves, in subtle ways, like computers. We drive ourselves to cope with ever-increasing workloads by working longer hours, sucking down coffee and spurning recuperation. But “we were not meant to operate as computers do,” Schwartz says. “We are meant to pulse.” When it comes to
managing our own energy, he insists, we must replace a linear perspective with a cyclical one: “We live by the myth that the best way to get more work done is to work longer hours.” Schwartz cites research suggesting that we should work in periods of no greater than 90 minutes before seeking rest. Whatever you might have been led to imagine by the seeping of digital culture into every aspect of daily life – and at times this week in Austin it was easy to forget this – you are not, ultimately, a computer. Credit.
If we worked less couldn’t we also volunteer more? Couldn’t we enjoy more? More lazy mornings? More evenings gathered with friends?