I was at a conference recently having a conversation with an attendee about the challenges to time management, especially from online distractions and cell phone game apps that, according to an article in Time Magazine, are actually created to be addictive. Suddenly, another person excitedly popped into our discussion like Kramer from the Seinfeld show.
With crazed eyes and a raised brow, he asked “Did you mention Candy Crush?”
This Kramer-like character went on to explain, with great passion, that Candy Crush Saga was the “best game ever” and it was “sooooo addicting”. He excitedly explained the rules, the levels and openly admitted how he just couldn’t put it down, spending countless hours of time playing and even missing a meeting last week and forgetting to pick his kid up at soccer because of it. He went on to say at least he’d made it to the next level so that somehow made it OK. After catching his breath he encouraged us to download it before he quickly darted away to find a quiet place to play.
Are you kidding me? I need another thing to sink my time into like Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto needs another hit of crack, especially if missing meetings or forgetting my kids is the outcome.
The whole point of our conversation was that time is critically important, our most precious resource and non-renewable. We live in a world of ever-increasing distraction where entertainment is always a click away and it’s much more sophisticated and addictive than it’s ever been. It’s more important than ever to distinguish between work time and playtime and the appropriate time – and amount – for each. Until we discipline ourselves to put our time into the right things vs. everything (or rather anything) then we will forever be short on time. There simply isn’t time to do it all. We must pick and choose where our time is best spent.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t factor fun and downtime into our schedules because we most definitely should as it’s a key to staying balanced. What I am saying is we have to be very conscious of where we spend our time and in what amount. And at what cost. Missing a meeting to play a cell phone game may seem silly but I talk to youth all the time who struggle in school but are leveled up like crazy in the latest Call of Duty, logging entire weekends in addition to weeknights. I’ve talked to employees who just can’t seem to get ahead, yet openly admit they’ve logged double digit hours into Facebook, texting friends or surfing for the latest celebrity news – all while at work.
My humble plea as you go forward this year is to simply ask: What is your time worth? Are the activities you’re doing worth your time? Are they worth that much time? What other activities might be a more impactful, meaningful or productive use of your precious time? Belief requires behavior so make this year a moment to put your “time where your mouth is”. Don’t just say something is important to you. Make the choices with your time that actually show it and you’ll feel happier and empowered.
And for those of you who play game apps on your phone, don’t feel maligned or singled out and don’t write me negative commentary about this piece…once I finish this article, I’ll be busy playing Candy Crush Saga.