Saturday, February 2, 2008

In the Interest of Time

Earlier this week, I was passing my hour-long car commute in the usual ways: flipping radio stations (all were enamored of Journey this week, challenging the usual Fleetwood Mac dominance), rehearsing my morning lecture, running down the to-do list, and mentally composing emails to send as soon as I got into my office. It was a day full of one-liner emails, the sort that I sometimes imagine capturing with a voice recorder with driving. Or better still, some microphone wired to a laptop that would prepare and send the messages automatically when I got to my office. Oh, the promise of squeezing every drop of efficiency out of the day!!

And then I asked myself what I would do with the extra time if I did have a way to dispatch my email from the car. The answer came instantly: I'd make myself more busy by taking on something else that I'd now have time to do.

How often do I wish for more time just so I wouldn't have to take the responsibility of prioritizing among all the things I find interesting? Or the responsibility of declaring something profoundly uninteresting? Perhaps I wanted the email-in-car device because it separated the interesting part (figuring out what to say) from the uninteresting (typing the darn thing). It was one of those moments when I understood that "more time" is not so much about "getting more done", but about "doing more of the right things".

For my next trick, I'll work on the device that captures these insights directly from my brain and produces the blog post. Which is the interesting part though? Having the idea or developing it? Need to make some time to think that one through ...


Geoff Knauth said...

I hate to say it, but email from the car sounds like such a disaster. I hope such a thing never comes to pass. If talking on a cell phone increases accident risk fourfold, I have this feeling that email would guarantee an accident. Nonetheless I know that you were not advocating for email in the car, but rather for more time. What you need is a technology that synthesizes and delegates those pesky emails.

As for switching between stations while waiting in traffic, my solution is to listen to Podcasts. My recommendation for you is Software Engineering Radio, which often has some interesting interviews with software pioneers.

Anonymous said...

I have hour-long communicate every day too. I don't think it's a safe idea to think too much about work while driving :)