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Give yourself a present

Jack Balshaw 12/25/2002


Here it is, Christmas day. The presents have long ago been opened and things have settled down. Now it's time to give yourself a present. How about a gift of time to use next year, and maybe forever?

I'm hearing more and more about the strenuous, stressful and multi-tasking lives of people. For some, this is a lifestyle and status symbol and for them there is no hope. For others it's something they've somehow gotten caught up in that's taken control of their lives. That can be changed with a change of attitude.

Remember when that newest device, a pager, was the status symbol of doctors and other important people on the golf course. They were so important they had to be able to be contacted at any time in case a lifesaving operation was waiting or mega real estate deal needed to be closed. Fast forward a few years and it was the plumber or copy machine repairman who was tethered to an office by the boss's ability to page him at any time. The former status symbol had become the short leash in somebody else's hand.

We couldn't leave the important people in that diminished status, so someone invented the mobile phone. Around we went (go) again. From the bulky car phones to the bulky portable phones to the now sleek cell phones; this new device has evolved into the new necessity. (Add on a Personal Digital Assistant that serves multi purposes and you have a mobile office from which you can never escape.)

No excuse for being out of touch. No excuse for not getting the work done. No right to private time. This may be what passes for progress now a days, but to me it seems more like slavery. Wasn't success for the top dog having no one interfere with his time? Wasn't importance in the workplace that the boss wasn't always checking up on what you were doing? Wasn't personal freedom being able to be alone when you wanted to be?

Sure, you can just turn the darn thing off, but that's almost rudeness in today's world, insubordination if you're on the time clock. If you turned it off, some people might think you weren't important enough to have to be in contact all the time. Of course there's always the argument that the cell phone allows ME to instigate contact with others. And, I can call AAA if I get a flat tire on the freeway. And, you never know when another 9/11 will occur and I have to keep in touch.

Speaking up for those cell-phone-less others, excuse me, I didn't know you were that important. I'm more reminded of the guy in the office with not much to do, who wanders the cubicles chatting with others trying to get some work done. How often does Joe, driving around town, feel the need to reach out and touch someone? You can't escape these people.

I think that was my cell phone tirade.

But cell phones are the biggest factor in many people not having any down time. Time in which to escape from the frantic pace of work or schedules. Time to have random private thoughts. Time to just unwind.

Time is the one thing everyone has the same amount of, 24 hours each and every day. But it's such a nebulous thing that most people don't think about it directly. However, we can control much of our time. How we use time can make the difference between feeling hassled or calm.

So, this week, between Christmas and New Years, try to think about time and how you use it. Do you really have to return those gifts tomorrow, or can that wait until after the rush is over? Do you really need to call Joe from the car to tell him about a special at Costco? And, most of all, what are you doing that you don't want or have to do?

Merry Christmas, have a good time.


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