Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The 43-hour day

I'm not quite sure what I think of a study released yesterday by Yahoo Inc.
The Toronto Star reports:

The average person's day is now effectively 43 hours long.
Technology has us multi-tasking to the point that if we add up all the hours we spend sleeping, working, commuting, watching TV, emailing, text messaging, spending time with family and using the Internet, the average person's number will add up to more than 43. But that is leading to more balanced, satisfying lives and a resurgence in traditional values, say Yahoo Inc. and media communications specialist OMD, which released a study yesterday called It's a Family Affair: The Media Evolution of Global Families in the Digital Age.
The study polled more than 4,500 families in 16 countries. The 43-hour day comes from the average U.S. response.
I understand their point: technology can allow individuals to get things done in less time, but a "43-hour day"? I'm curious how they came up with this. Perhaps I'll dig up their paper when I have more time.
The article goes on to quote a cynic of the theory that technology allows people to consume more family/leisure time.
Andy Sherwood, president of the Toronto operation of Vancouver-based Priority Management, a time-management training business, says multi-tasking is "evil."
"Am I seeing technology help in terms of family life? No," he said. "I see the exact opposite."
Priority Management has a 12-step program to overcome technology addiction.
"The first thing we allowed to intrude on us was cellphones," Sherwood said. "Then we allowed BlackBerrys. And it's a badge of honour now of how dysfunctional we are. We brag about the fact that `Here I am in the restaurant at 10 o'clock trying to have dinner with my friend, and look how busy I am, my phone is ringing, I'll have to take this call.' Spare me."
Priority Management teaches that to be "effective" rather than "busy" you must first stop multitasking.

Evil? I would argue that the efficiency of an individual is dependent on the individual. Addictive personalities may not bode well with tech gadgetry but, similarly, an addictive personality might also get a little too much use out of an annual gym membership. As long as there are slaves to the gym, is exercise "evil"?

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