24 little hours
24 just isn’t enough. Simple as. And it needs to be sorted.
How on earth can I teach, mark, plan, father, organise, write, print, deliver, drum, iron, read, watch, cook, eat and somewhere in all this sleep without extra time? And you may well call me unorganised (those of you who have seen my desk may have evidence to support your case) but I honestly believe I’m doing the best I can. I’m trying my very best to be the human equivalent of Superman and yet he still seems to outshine me at every turn. (How come his issue #1 gets a $1 million and I get twelve hits on my first blog – I work just as hard!!)
This is why I’m proposing something radical. We slow the earth down – not by much, but just by an hour or so, just to give me a bit more time to do that little bit extra. Yes, it would cause untold damage to the world’s climate, yes it would send currency markets into confusion causing a complete meltdown of the world economy. And I’m pretty sure the people at the Calendar club would be quite cheesed off when I tell them we’ve got to have a rethink on the whole ‘sturcture of time and existence’ idea. But hey – there’s the chance of an extra 60 minutes in bed here – so there’s a case worth arguing.
No? It’s not even worth setting up a pointless group on Facebook for? Well really, I knew that political apathy was rife but I thought I might be able to motivate you to wave a placard for this one. Tsk.
The truth is, that it must be the same for all of us. I rarely see someone nowadays for more than two minutes before they are rushing elsewhere or at least telling me (usually with some breathlessness) about where they’re headed next. It’s been well documented that the technological age has, despite all its whizz bangs and flashy screens, so far failed to deliver the utopia we all dream of (the one where we get a bit of time to ourselves). Ignoring the fact that no-one has (as yet) delivered on an app for my phone that will cook me my dinner while ironing my shirt, we seem to still be in the same stressful environment we were x number of years ago.
I have always been amused by the old anecdote about a time and motion study on American home life in the fifties. Focussing on housework, it appeared from the findings that the invention of the dishwasher didn’t do anything to reduce the workload of American housewives, due to the fact that they would a) spend time loading it and b) psychologically use more pans while they were cooking as they weren’t as worried about making so much of a mess. I find this amusing because a) I have owned a dishwasher and I find the study to be very true and b) apparently no man in America seems to be able to handle anything as elementary as a dishwasher, despite being in charge of the biggest nuclear arsenal this side of Andromeda. Whatever happened to boys and their toys???
No matter what we do, no matter how many gadgets we have, we’re always chasing our tails, apologising, then moving on. So is it possible that we can actually use the technology to improve our lives, or should we just all give up and go home now?
“You would all this time have proved there is no time for all things.” – Antipholus of Syracuse, The Comedy of Errors
You see. Even Shakey knew it.
I was scared this week by George Osbourne. And not for the reasons you would think either. It’s been the Tory party conference in Brighton and the shadow chancellor was giving a speech to the blue rinsed faithful about how young whipper snappers like him and ‘Dave’ were going to sort out those rotten lefties. This bit doesn’t scare me anymore, or the knee jerk rhetoric, or even the double-edged promises designed to feather the nest of the few. After twenty years of being frustrated at their antics, I’ve come to understand the mindset of the conservative party and all that sails in her. Get in, stay in, be nice to the people who put you there. Shimples. I’m sure they had a lovely time at the beach in a rainstorm, I’ll leave them be.
No, the words that put me on edge were -
“We come together with less than 70 days to go before the most important election we have known for a generation.” 70 DAYS??!!!!!!! (!)
Poop. Is that it? That means there’s only 70 days to the first week in May, ergo only 10 weeks till the drama coursework is due in. AND the practical exam is that week. Plus I’m supposed to be examining this year. And the auditions for the show and and and… Hmm? Oh and there’s a general and local election to contend with.
Did it really creep up on me like that? Just like writing my Christmas cards, I promised myself that five years was enough time to prepare and that I would not leave everything till the last minute. As an aside, let this also serve as an apology for all you who didn’t get a Christmas card – as was already stated, the earth was moving too fast…
But meanwhile, back at the farm we in the wonderful world of politics are about to start running around like headless chickens grabbing as many votes as we can. And Mr Osbourne’s right (log that – I say it very rarely) it is the most important election for a generation. Actually, to be fair its possibly more like three generations, as for the first time since the war we are confronted with a situation where we really do have three choices instead of the usual two. Talk of hung (or balanced as I prefer) parliaments is rife amongst those in the know in the Westminster village and speculation in the press about whose agenda will float to the surface when the votes are counted in May is never-ending. The only thing that is certain is that D:ream
are not planning another comeback tour – if change is coming I doubt that anyone will be planning another Cool Britannia.
So what do I do with my 69 days? Well, luckily it’s mostly continue to carry out the plan that I had nailed down a whole two months ago, shortly after midnight on Jan 1st. It’s not an original plan, nor is it long, but it seems to be working for me as it did for Arthur Dent.
Short, simple, to the point and it’s helped me to get through a whole bunch of stuff recently (including a crazy three hours with missing car keys midweek – very proud of myself for staying clear of insanity on that one). But it still doesn’t change the fact that there is an awful lot do in a relatively short space of time. There are thousands of leaflets to deliver. There are meetings to attend. There are people to meet and casework to do. The media is beginning to slowly gear itself up for the election battle ahead and have started asking for reps and quotes and stories and photos and and and….(see how easy it is to get into a flap if you don’t carry a copy of the guide with you?).
In amongst all of this I have to continue being a Dad, a teacher and a human being. Which I have only recently realised is possible, but it won’t come from me putting in more hours and depriving myself of sleep. It’s going to have to come from working smarter – not harder.
‘Bob’ is organising a quiz night, he wants it to be a success but is snowed under with other demands on his time that require him to be doing a lot of other things simultaneously. How can he get it done with a minimum of fuss while also doing other highly important things?
- Book the room by email
- Send a group email to all the members of the organisations he’s a part of to get them to come
- Advertise on a local website to give a higher profile to his event
- Use Facebook to widen the number of invites and make his social circle part of his event
- Get the questions straight from the t’internet! (Although checking to see if there are 2 christmas islands so that there aren’t any hairy moments on the night…)
In short Bob can do all the planning for his quiz without ever leaving his chair. Problem solved.
Ah you got me, it was me, but it really was shocking to me when I realised after the event last Friday that the whole thing had existed entirely virtually until we actually got to the point of me welcoming the first guest. And the more I think about it the point can be extrapolated out to a much wider net. If a success can be made of a fairly small-scale event like quiz, then what potential do we have for cracking a much bigger egg – like an election?
As a party organiser and generally in my other incarnations I spend an awful lot of time worrying about things that I’m realising slowly can be easily solved by the simple click of a button or just a little more forward planning. Instead of re-inventing the wheel each time or going for the labour intensive option, perhaps I should spend a little more time emptying my inbox and filling up my sent items file. The technology exists, I just have to use it more effectively to make sure that the ‘time’ is spent on things that are far more important like family & friends. After all I can’t file them in an inbox. (Yet – app needed please!)
Our working existence is becoming more and more virtual but this shouldn’t be something we should be afraid of. When you tame the beast it’s actually quite liberating and gives you the chance top really concentrate on the important stuff. In short, this keypad and my broadband connection are going to be my lifeblood for the next ten weeks and hopefully delivering much more effective results across the board, whether it be in my role as a teacher or a campaigner.
I once read the first section of a book by some IT dude called Gates.
(Give me a break – it got technical after the preface) Bearing in mind he’s richer than Croesus
, he may be someone to listen to on these things and I have to say that from my brief foray into his mind he’s right. To give a quick precis of his argument, he is of the opinion that if you don’t use the internet to its full potential – you are an idiot. And he’s right. Which is why you’re all clever people and are not sitting reading this off of a piece of paper. (At least I hope not – if you are, you’re not really part of this digital revolution are you?)
can turn America using Facebook
can take on the Chinese state, then I figure I could have a crack at Bury North
. Only time will tell if it works. Going full circle with the theme you see….
A final contradiction
And so I’m off to write a newsletter. A paper one which is going to go to all local Lib Dem party members in the area. It’ll need a lot of stamps, will use ink and paper and will be a drain on the financial resources of the party as well as my time, probably taking about three hours when all the licking and sticking is done. But at least the letter will be short. And I’ll only really need to write it once. It’s going to read -
“Can I please have your email address?”