There’s a mismatch. It really is the case that there are more demands for attention than any normal person can address. Certainly, social media has a habit of burning up time. TV channel numbers expand like prolific rabbits but ironically there’s nothing worth watching or so it’s said. Daily newspapers are in decline, but supermarket shelves remain covered with expensive colourful magazines packed full of advertising. So many demands for our attention but the 24-hour day is much the same as it was in stone age times.

I did start a “to do list” in the assumption that it would help. Get me organised. Problem is that such lists fill up quickly and each task linger like a sword of Damocles[1]. Due dates slip into the past. It’s not a good way to reduce a dynamic stack of e-mails or clear a cluttered diary. Such lists are more a source admin than they are a source of free time.

One descriptive word that’s more than familiar to an engineer is that of “Bandwidth.” In this case lack of it. In the technical world it’s a range of frequencies within a set band. That notion of a limitation exists because a band is not boundless.

For my e-mail list. The contemporary form of an in-tray full to the brim with paper. This means that time is not expandable in such a way as to address everything that demands attention. Even though, it’s true that a great deal of time-wasting junk is quickly consigned to the waste bin.

As a species we have not evolved to cope with the ever changing digital world. The speed with which information can move is unrelenting. Harsh weather, day, night, the global expanse, nothing slows it down. Anyone with an internet connection is quickly hooked. Disconnection become imposible.

The difficulty is the mix. Irrelevant drivel takes the same path as communications of great value. The job of sorting this out, to make stuff usable, takes time that squeezes out new contracts or new projects. Finding energy and mental capacity to deal with digital clutter drains the batteries.

The new art is knowing what bandwidth, to manage this deluge, you can muster and for how long. Then being disciplined enough to use the delete button more often. To be less bound by a drive to answer every question. To be less impacted by views and opinions that pass by like rocket ships.

[1] The expression comes from the Roman politician, orator, and philosopher Cicero (106-43 BC). And I thought it was Biblical.

Author: johnwvincent

Our man in Southern England

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