For a full three days the world went dark for many on the planet. That is, for much of the BlackBerry users whose thumbs got a rest while Research In Motion (RIM), the BlackBerry manufacturer, fixed a glitch in their UK network. In an effort of honest reciprocity, RIM is trying to apologize through premium app giveaways all those users effected by the breakdown. It’s a nice thought, but the repercussions of their digital dilemma makes me worried.

Not only have we become so dependent on our devices that we screech to a halt, then throw it in reverse when we’ve discovered we left our handheld on the kitchen counter; we also become paralyzed as citizens of the planet when the system crashes. Worldwide.

And that’s what is happening more and more as we teeter-totter toward more interdependencies. The BlackBerry Blackout has taught us that we’re in this together.

As a wannabe screenwriter, I often daydream about catastrophic films in which the data itself takes over the world. Like the Matrix, we humans wander about in dim lighting and blackclothing, wondering where Nature went, whose got the power (because that’s what information is today) and what happens to all that big data we’ve put ‘out there’. What if it grew so large it took over the planet?

We’d be the planet of the apps*, searching aimlessly for device-free land in a world gone dark.

*This term was borrowed from a brilliant research report compiled by Chief Learning Officer about learning technology. So I can’t claim it. But I used it shamelessly. So there.

Jurgen Wolff knows about alter egos. As a London-based screenwriter for TV and film, he assures you there is a place for creativity. But there is also a place for your technical thinking (such as when you’re pitching your show idea to a BlackBerry-thumbing T.V. producer with the attention span of a two-year-old).

He and I sat down for a chat about how to focus. In his book, Focus: Use the Power of Targeted Thinking to Get More Done, he reveals his alter ego strategy to assume the right personality for the job. Sound psychotic? It’s not. Listen here!

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If you like what you hear, don’t forget to right-click, save, then place your Power of Slow badge of honor anywhere in your social media universe. We appreciate you spreading the word that slow is faster and that fast is merely exhausting!


Benjamin Franklin
Image via Wikipedia

Benjamin Franklin meant well. He advised his tradesmen audience in the aptly worded „Advice to a Young Tradesman”  that time is money. In his day a person of trade, well, traded his time for the money he earned. In many cases today people think they still do that as well. But what they are really doing is spending a lot more time thinking about work than they are paid to do. Thanks in large part to technological advances, work has seeped into many aspects of our lives. So while we’re swinging our child on the swings, we’re solving that problem at work in our heads or on our cell phones. Many times you will see people ceaselessly thumbing their BlackBerries at coffee shops during ‘leisure time’. In today’s world, time is not money, my friend. Time is time and money is money.

In the world of slow, time does not equal money. Instead, time equals your existence.

The truth of the matter is ‘the time is money’ adage has gotten us into a lot more trouble than we realize. Because we live our lives based on the misleading premise that time is money, we attempt to do more in less time. We begin to confuse activity with productivity, as if the ‘doing’ will grant us ‘being’. Inadvertantly, we hop on the hamster wheel, running as fast as we can with a competitive mentality about the clock and what it supposedly represents.We have a negative relationship with time that gives us a sense of time starvation instead of abundance. Even our precious vacation time is not immune from the time-money equation.

According to expedia.com’s latest International Vacation Deprivation Survey conducted by Harris Interactive in April 2010, nearly one-third of the respondents admitted to engaging in work-related while on vacation. The trend seems to be increasing. In 2010 30% reported that they check work email or voicemail while vacationing as opposed to just 24% in 2009.

If you love what you do and you are not stressed by it, that’s one thing. But if you feel you can never disengage from your work to regenerate, chances are you need to entertain the idea of a lifestyle change. As this slide show proves, you needn’t worry about when you will ‘get there’. You’ve already arrived. And yes, time abundance can be yours.

Your body will tell you if you’re on the right track. Have you ever wondered why you feel so much better while on vacation? Not only is your stress level reduced, but you also tend to engage in more leisurely dining and longer sleep. Your body is a wonderful barometer for whether or not your pace of life is working for you. Inject some slow into your summer routine and see where it leads you. It might just take you off the beaten track. Take it from me, a recovering speedaholic. The road less traveled is a great place to be!

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When E-mail kills…

October 7, 2009

My dear friend Guy sent me a link to a story on InternetNews the other day. It addressed the spate of suicides and suicide attempts at France Telecom (a key brand of Orange) in the last year (22 with 13 attempts).  The CFO of the company, Gervais Pellissier, admitted that 24/7 connectivity, thanks to contemporary hand-held devices, has increased employee stress levels exponentially. The very telecommunications industry that spawned our hyperconnectivity is the very one to meet its own demise.

“When you were an average employee in a big corporation 15 years ago, you had no mobile phone or no PC at home. When you were back home, work was out,” he said.

orangeWork was out. Done. Finished. And now people are finishing themselves off as they realize twenty-four hours a day is not enough. Somewhere along the line, people forgot that every business is comprised of people, not just machines.

I claim we have an abundance of time, but we need the heads of corporations, such as France Telecom, to realize there is also a limit to our availability. Just because I have 24 hours a day doesn’t mean the company owns it all.

Ironically, France has the most vacation days in the world. Yet people are ill-equipped to handle the expectations our 24/7 world has placed upon them. We need to return to a state of civility and normalcy in which our time-off is our own.

Just because we can answer the phone at midnight doesn’t mean we have to. I plead for more sanity in our workplace.

Enough is enough.

work-life-monitor2

Judy Martin over at The Work/Life Monitor recently offered five cool tips on slowing down, which I found interesting. Instead of emailing, call a friend. Instead of eating lunch with your BlackBerry tied to your wrist, leave it at your desk.

Really.

Read on for more cool details on how to heat up your life the slow and graceful way!

Oh, and she lives in New York City. I find it so encouraging that even New Yorkers embrace some part of the Slow Movement.

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