Not too long ago I had a client call me and ask if I had any comments on the email he sent. He sent it five minutes before he called and wondered why I hadn’t commented yet. I laughed. And this called to mind something that I had considered several years ago – there is very little time in the day when we are actually expected to take the time to think, to chase an idea around for a while and let it gel. In short, to ponder.
Many have commented on how our workplaces have changed over the years. Instead of talking with one another, we email. New and improved management philosophies with the mantras “Work Smarter, Not Harder” or “Do More With Less” have institutionalized the rapid pace, rapid reaction work environment of many businesses and institutions. I recall that several years ago there was a management training program that was structured around accounting for every 15 minute time interval and participants were required to complete a form that mapped their typical day in predefined categories of activities; reading inbox correspondence, responding to correspondence, attending meetings, etc. There was an entire page of listed activities that could account for an entire work day, but when I read it through I discovered that thinking was not on the list. I laughed. And I wondered, when do we get the time to think?
The almost instant access we have to one another through email, social media, and cell phones sometimes becomes a cacophony that is difficult to manage without effort. The quiet time that seems to me necessary to allow things to unwind and reform into a course of action is almost non-existent or it comes at the end of a day when our energy has been spent. I have found that taking the time to ponder is extremely valuable time and I try hard to make the time and create the circumstance to do just that.
Just recently I was in a meeting with a client in Arizona and this subject came up when our otherwise technical discussions morphed into conversations about how difficult it was to manage the fast-paced demands of work and the explosion of information we are required to keep pace with. My client, whom I have known for many years, recalled a conversation we had 15 years ago in which I said to him how important it was to take the time to ponder daily. It is now how he starts every day.
Kevin Deeny (a lifelong Levittown resident)