Offbeat 08 May 2015

Here’s how it works. You clock off for the day, somewhat knackered and stressed, with a list of jobs in your head that you didn’t get to, and the knowledge that alongside your workload for tomorrow, and the meetings that you have to sit in on, you have to add to that the list of jobs that you are supposed to get through tomorrow.

Estimate the workload. It’s probably about 1.7 times the amount of work you should be able to get through in a day. Now imagine the day is Thursday. That means you have to get through 1.7 times the amount of work you normally do on a Friday. What about Friday afternoon? That’s normally slow time, and the brain is scattered. The people you need inputs from will be slow like cold honey at best. A fair number of them will slip out early.
Your strategies are twofold. You can work tonight. You can work over the weekend. Those strategies are not mutually exclusive. If you are sufficiently productive, you will do both. The weekend work will keep you treading water, not sinking like a stone and drowning. But as a whole bunch of people got all lax and lazy on you, or you took extra responsibility, you know that you start Monday with a bunch of jobs that didn’t get done when they were needed. And, in reality, even if you work tonight, Saturday and Sunday, the world will look exactly the same grim shade of grey come the end of next5 week.
You briefly consider time management but, as you climb into the car, you chuck that idea out of the window. Time management only works when other people manage their own time the way you would like to manage your own. Time planning is for the sort of creature that can shed responsibility by delegating, and laying blame when planned productivity turn out to be hallucinatory psychosis.  Time planning is right up there alongside the fantasy of a rescue mission from Gandalf the Grey, or the fantasy of that mythical thing called ‘a weekend’, scarcer than the Yeti, or the Loch Ness Monster.
By now your heart should be pounding, but chill a bit. The world has a solution for you. It’s called ‘convenience’. It’s not just a buzzword. It’s an actual concept. Convenience is stress-relief, just what you need.
You don’t have time to hang out, so as you hit the first traffic light, log in to social media. You can meet your buddies and buddettes there. The more traffic lights, the longer the lines of cars, the more quality time you get.
You don’t have time to chop tomatoes and onions tonight, to add them to a pan with a bit of meat and some herbs. That’s OK. You can stop at a shop on the way home and grab something frozen for dinner, nuke it in the microwave. It’s almost guaranteed to be demographically inoffensive to any palate, although it might come up short on flavour. If the queue is long or the cashier is slow, take the opportunity for a bit more quality time on social media.
Not enough time for thoughts of your own? Don’t worry. Retail convenience can solve that. You can buy the hits that everyone else likes in convenient compilations. Hobbies also come in boxes now. Collect the whole series on Eastern European cars, complete with models and a series of magazines with bigger pictures and less text so you can get through them faster. And there’s no need to read if you can watch the movie.
With new, improved convenience, you can compress more of life into bite-sized chunks.
The problem is those bites of life are low calorie and short on mental and spiritual nutrition.
Convenience sits well with time management and productivity. In the demented economy of the passage of life, because you don’t have the time to make it through the working day, you need something less time consuming to make it through your personal life as well.
If you feel short-changed by all of this, award yourself a gold star and a Noddy badge. Life should be richer, but you are part of the trap. It’s quite alright to want out, but here’s the major question: how are you going to make the time to escape?
I wish I had an answer.


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