Question 98 of 365: What will we have time for?

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I remember a discussion I had with my homeroom teacher in high school that went something like this:

Teacher: I used to play the guitar, a twelve string, and I really loved it. I haven’t played it in years, now. I think it may have a hole in the back, but I can’t remember. It is in my closet at home.

Me: I can’t believe that you would ever stop playing the guitar once you knew how.

Teacher: I just don’t have time for it anymore. Of all of the things that I have to do, playing guitar is no longer one of them.

Me: I don’t understand. If I had that nice of a guitar, I would always make time for it. How could you not want to constantly be writing songs and playing in the evening? How is it that you could lose your passion for something that you loved so much?

And I was completely sincere in my dumbfoundedness. I could not fathom going a single day without strumming along or humming my own tune. And yet, that is where I find myself at this time. I haven’t written a song in a couple of years and I only play in order to entertain my children. This is clearly out of sync with my high minded high school self.

And yet, I had no way of predicting that having two children or a full-time job would really require so much of my energy. I couldn’t see that blogging would almost completely take over my creative output. It just wasn’t possible for me to foresee that music could take a back seat to other passions. I was basing everything I knew upon my (then) current world view, and all signs pointed to the fact that I would be writing songs until I died.

Because I based everything I knew about the future upon everything I knew about the present, there was no way for me to predict what I would have time for. And it is now pressing down on me that the things I have time for now may change significantly because of the same sort of shifting priorities and circumstances.

Simplistically¬†speaking, we will have time for all of the things that we make time for. I will make time for my family and I will make time for my work. I will make time to be creative and for some sort of technology. These are givens, and yet, my ability to predict what any of those will look like is next to nothing. There doesn’t seem to be any crystal ball that will work for determining future time allocation. And yet, that is what I am aiming to do.

I am interested to see just how much I could predict if I was given the right set of circumstances. I believe that this would be incredibly useful to a great many people, assuming they are like me and want to know just how interesting of people they will become.

So, here is what I would like to see:

The following data points would need to be allocated:

  • FourSquare, Gowalla or Yelp (for location points)
  • Twitter (for time of day and topics of interest)
  • Flickr (with facial tagging for people you are most often with)
  • RescueTime (for figuring out just what you spend the most time with on your computer)
  • Facebook and Delicious (for determining “likes” and shifting vocabulary for describing things)

I would like to be able to see where I have been, what I have been talking about, who I have been with, what I have been doing, and my language and interest in all of it in a single monthly report. I would like it to look something like the annual report I get from Capital One for my credit card, where it is broken down into the different types of things that I spent money on. From this data, I would like the report to project out another few months or more into the future and see exactly what it is that I will be spending my time on. I would like it to see the trends in the ways that I am starting to tag things in delicious. I would like it to see the shifts in my tweets from one topic or group of followers to another. I would like it to make a best fit line in terms of where I will be in the future, taking all of these data points into account.

This would be one way to not only identify the things that I have been looking at, but also those that I should look further into. That part would come in, when it would compare my monthly reports with those of others. If it was able to see trends that are starting in the group of people that I most often talk to or about, it would be able to see just where I need to spend more of my time in the future. Yeah, that would be pretty cool.

Then again, I could always just look at my own past and call myself an ignorant kid who really didn’t understand the ways in which life can change in an instant and call it good. Perhaps that is an equally good answer.

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2 Comments

  1. perfect topic. speaking of which, i haven't taken the time to read your posts. and i've missed it.
    [i have, however, started meeting with a gal… she's going to be my translator, per your sage advice… so thank you for that.]

    i just watched a ted talk yesterday.. Jan Chipchase. per the comments, his talk wasn't well received. i got a lot out of it. the part i especially grabbed onto fits with your post. he said his research started with this: when you walk out the door, what do you take with you, and of the things you take with you, what do you use the most. [he works for nokia, and he's researching cells.] he came up with 1. keys 2. money 3. cells.

    i thought the whole focus of what do we use as our value-meter was a good one. do our words of what we value match up with what we actually do.

    in your mind, no way would you love the guitar and not play it.

    i think this awareness… looking at trends can be helpful with virtual tools and real life apps. the real life like your guitar story.. and even more important, time spent with people that matter. the google-meter i have on my ning site, has you google yourself and go five pages back… if those five pages aren't filled with at least 90% (can't remember exact %) of what you say you're about… you're not digitally distinct.

    it's a zoom out method… like get pivot shows…
    we get so focused on busyness or day to day.. but are we doing the right things? the things we want to be doing?..

    i might have already shared this with you, but jason fried (wrote rework) says that work is where we get the least done. i'm thinking – a lot of times – life is where we get the least done – in comparison to what we really want to get done, or be about.

    my son's fav song – blink – by revive, tells me we should change this up.

  2. Don't worry about not staying up on all of the posts. I have kind of taken a
    different direction in the last 10 days, though, so I would love some
    feedback on the “stories” that I have been injecting into the discussion.

    I just watched Jan's talk. Interesting stuff. The things that we need
    perhaps are what drive what we have time for, but I do wonder about when we
    reevaluate our needs to figure out if they are important anymore. I like
    that idea of being digitally distinct, but I do wonder about the “need” to
    be that. Is that something that we will make time for, or is it something
    that we should be forced to make time for and learn about, even if we have
    no “need” to be digitally distinct.

    I also like your idea of what we want to “be about.” I think that
    continually reassessing it and creating new things to be about is the only
    way to create renewal in my life. I want to be about stories and technology
    and learning and startups and creation. I'm not sure that all of those
    things are represented fully in my footprint, but by writing about them on a
    daily basis, they will be.

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