As I mentioned in my last article, work and life no longer have distinct boundaries thanks to the technology that we carry with us at all times. Whether it is work jumping into our non-work time, or just the abundance of information we now have at our fingertips, life is much more complicated than it was 50 years, or even 20 years ago, which is when most of the current productivity systems were formed.
It Was More Distinct…
Life used to be much more compartmentalized. We were in a physical space, and that physical space dictated what we could do.
If we were in the office, we would work. We couldn’t do the laundry, because that was in a non-work space. We could make work phone calls and send emails, which is not something we could do at home.
If we were at home, we could do our housekeeping, and not worry about work, because we knew that we couldn’t work on those tasks away from the office.
David Allen’s concept of contexts worked well in this type of environment, because the lines were clear cut, delineated by specific areas of equipment, opportunity and availability.
It’s Now About Time Choices
Those lines are gone now. We can access work from anywhere, or at least be summoned to work from anywhere. Many people work from home.
Even without the pressures of work, we are still bombarded by the choices of what to do.
The Old Way
My grandmother had it very different. She had very limited information coming at her – just the radio, and the weekly newspaper. When she left the farm to go to town, it was for a specific reason: going shopping, going to church, or for the one social event the town held that week. Her choices were yes or no, not which one.
Now everything is blending. We have more choices before us every given minute than ever before in history. It’s not just a choice between work and life, though. It’s a choice between everything else that is available at the moment.
Personally, I don’t wonder that so many people shut down and vegetate in front of the television or video games. Overwhelmed with constant choice, I can see why that would be appealing. And sometimes I have done it myself, although I will admit my checking out will usually consist of reading fiction.
Why Whole Life Productivity?
I see that there is a need out there for people to learn how to manage those choices. There is a need to figure out how to make the decision of what to do, and how to do it.
This is no longer about time management. It’s no longer about worker productivity. It’s about choice…
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This used to be the province of work. All of the productivity systems were all about keeping our commitments front and center so we had a better chance of making the right choices on how to spend our time.
Now this need is present for the whole life. We need to find a way to keep our commitments front and center so that we have the best chance of making the right choices on how to spend our time in our whole loves.
The best news is that we don’t have to start from scratch. Using the tools we used to use exclusively at work, we can get a handle on the choices and make our way through the soup of activities we find ourselves in.
The First Steps…
For me, the first steps are always about taking stock of where I am. I need to know where I am spending my time now so that I can figure out how I want to spend my time in the future.
This is particularly relevant for me right now. When I changed careers 8 weeks ago, I didn’t foresee how my teaching prep work and grading would suck up all my free time. A few weeks ago I realized I was working 12-16 hours a day. That is never good for health, mental or physical. And heaven knows what teachers are paid doesn’t support that kind of overtime without sinking us below minimum wage. So something had to give.
Next week we’re going to look at the first steps to wading out of the muck: a time log. We’ll look at the basics of the log, and how to use those results to make changes. The Wednesday article for Patreon subscribers next week will take it further: diving deep into the data and crafting a time plan to make getting life in balance easier.
Over To You…
I want you to write down (right now). in the comments, up to ten things that have sidetracked you or that you wish you hadn’t done over the last week, and how much time you devoted to them. This can include television watching, working too long at work, spending too much time working on something that had very little value. It might include bringing work home, or washing dishes, or any other task that doesn’t feel right to where and who you are.
Share at least one of these items below. I’ll be reading the comments to see what the trends are, so we can craft solutions in the weeks ahead.