Killing Time is a Crime–Embracing Speed by Redefining Life, Play & Work

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yosi Lazarof

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yosi Lazarof

I do a ton of reading and research for all my books and blogs. Recently, I discovered a GEM of a book that I highly recommend; The Age of Speed—Learning to Thrive in a More-Faster-Now World by Vince Poscente.We all feel overwhelmed. It seems the more time-saving devices we have, the more that’s expected of us. We dash between e-mail, text, social media, housework, work, writing, family and feel like we’re drowning.

The WANA Way has always striven to be unique, unlike any other social media/business approach. Our focus is quality, not quantity, community, not “customers.” I recognized early that if writers (or businesses) weren’t having fun on social media or with work? They either wouldn’t do it or would do it poorly.

Time Redefined

In my newest book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World, I go to great lengths to explain how changes in civilization not only alter the biological structure of the brain, but they also shift our values. Any significant advance transforms how we order space and time and what we find important. As society evolves, we must also evolve or we’ll be left behind (or our heads will metaphorically explode).

For instance, if we could access a time machine and go back to the year 600 A.C.E., we wouldn’t be able to communicate the same way with fellow humans. The clock wouldn’t be invented for a few more hundred years and we “time travelers” would experience lives governed by seasons and the sun (not a wristwatch).

Time had not yet been sliced, diced and parceled out. Thus, if we said, “Meet you in an hour” or “See you at 1:30″ we’d likely get a blank stare…then be burned as witches.

I just said meet me for coffee at 9:00 a.m.

I just said, “Meet me for coffee at 9:00 a.m.”

Changes in the Life-Time Pie

Poscente brought up a remarkable point I hadn’t consciously seen. How we order time has been changed with technology. When we shifted from an agricultural society to an industrial society, humans began to define work in spacial terms. Work was a place we went. Home was the place we relaxed. The garage was the place for chores and the TV room was the place to chillax.

This was all well and good before the advent of the Internet, cell phones, texting, social media, and e-mail. Now we feel guilty when we text an I love you to a spouse or partner at work or when we answer a business e-mail or check Facebook at the park with family. It’s like life just got thrown in a Vita-Mix and whiiiiirrrrrrrrrr……

As Poscente says, “The framework that gave us discipline over our time and kept work in a neat little box has been rendered obsolete.”

This is one of the biggest reasons many author social media campaigns fail. Many well-meaning marketers advise writers to keep public life (authorly stuff) and personal life (fun/human stuff) in two separate spaces—a work space (fan page) and a personal space (profile page). They recommend multiple Twitter accounts—one all author and one as a human.

Then what happens is this…

The fan page grows at glacial speed and the author gets discouraged and, even if she pays to promote? The ROI (Return on Investment) is dismal. Then, discouraged, the writer grudgingly posts (rarely) because the fan page is no fun when only spam bots and digital crickets are there for company.

Depressed writer then defaults to spending more time on the profile page because it’s fun, active and dynamic…and subsequently feels guilty and levels the Christmas fudge like a biblical plague. Why?

Because she feels she is goofing off and not “working.”

Same with Twitter. The “Author Identity” gets ignored or reported for spam, while the “Personal Identity” is having a blast just chatting with others.

***This applies to most social media, btw.

Work and Fun Play Well Together

We can take a lesson from the corporate world. If we study the businesses that have thrived the most in recent years—Pixar, Google, Patagonia, The Boston Beer Company, Think Geek, NING, Best Buy (you can check some of these companies out HERE)—we see they are doing well because they’ve released the serfs employees and given them loads of freedoms.

There are businesses who haven’t caught up to the changes in our culture. Cell phones are turned in at the door, outside Internet use is prohibited and even punished. Computer keystrokes are measured and outgoing and incoming calls are monitored. Why? Because these businesses value metrics more than people. Employees are reprimanded for taking sick days or vacation (even when allotted), because any time away from “work” adversely impacts The Almighty Metric.

My husband used to work in the defense industry. When he took three days off because we were having a baby, he returned only to be written up (even though he had two weeks of sick time and had never used any of it).

O_o

Companies that are stingy with lunch breaks, benefits, and fun are missing out by not understanding the new way we parse time (and how it can benefit their business). Google encourages play, new ideas, engaging with family, and rewards innovative ideas. They appreciate that time has blurred and if we don’t blend work and fun and leisure?

We suffer.

When we try to keep work, play and home in neat, separate compartments? We waste time. Yet, when we merge these areas, we become more aerodynamic and can harness speed because we are zooming along like a kid riding a bike down a steep hill. Faster doesn’t have to mean harder if we embrace a new way of thinking.

Image via Google.com

Image via Google.com

WANA has been founded on the principle of being HUMAN above all else. Engage and connect authentically, and the sales will eventually follow. WANA never has to pay to promote our fan page because we talk about stuff other than writing. We aren’t the Try to Sell Stuff All the Time Channel.

Do we have stuff for sale? Sure! But we also post funny memes, start silly conversations, and share kitten pics :P.

If people wanted only to shop, they’d be on the Shopping Network not a social network.

The failure to appreciate how our ideas of work-leisure-home-time-ratio have changed is one of the main reasons why building an author platform feels like SO MUCH WORK to so many authors. If we are trying to part out work and fun? We just feel chopped in half, and last I checked? Being chopped in half was the definition of “un-fun.”

Learning to BLEND

I don’t multi-task. Multi-tasking is stupid and inefficient. I DO, however blend. I can talk to a writer friend on my cell phone about a plot problem while folding towels. One activity needs attention and the other I can do on auto-pilot. I talk to my mom while I dust. I listen to an audio book while on a Stair Climber. When I’m writing, I’m writing, but then I reward myself with a quick Facebook or Twitter break…then back to writing.

This keeps me passionate about work because it is filled with play and meaning. I’m streamlined. 

In short, never kill time. Time is the only non-renewable resource. Use it wisely and learn to blend. Carry a book and, when stranded at the bank or the doctor’s office? Relax. Read a good book or my blog ;). If we embrace the notion that strict spaces no longer work? We are free to have fun and pair work and play, making life far more rewarding and speed shifts from enemy to ally.

Do you feel guilty having fun? Are you struggling to stay focused on writing because all these beeping devices are driving you nutso? Did you know you were allowed to be human and have fun on your fan page (and actually, if you do that, you won’t have to pay to promote)? Are there activities you blend and it helps keep you supercharged and balanced?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And, if you get a chance, please check out my newest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World. 

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  1. #1 by acuriousgal on December 5, 2013 - 6:54 am

    I like your take on meshing with this fast paced world! Loving your bits of humor too….thanks for giving me a chuckle this morning(as well as some good tips). Enjoy your day!!

  2. #2 by Shawn Spjut on December 5, 2013 - 6:54 am

    Kristen: Fabulous article. I especially appreciate the references to the fact that over time (ie: more than10,000 yrs worth) the change from hunter/gatherer to farmer to cities etc has dramatically affected the way human view ‘time’. Divide and allocate it. Assign and compartmentalize life. No wonder there is so much mental and physical illness. We’ve taken ‘fun’ out of life and given it a ‘time allotment’. I also like your idea of ‘blending’ life rather multitasking it.

  3. #3 by Bob Evenhouse on December 5, 2013 - 7:00 am

    My workplace is headed in this play/work direction. It’s astonishing to see engagement and effort dial up instead of down. I’m really enjoying it. I could not say the same 3 years ago.

  4. #4 by Teri Brown on December 5, 2013 - 7:09 am

    I have started doing this subconsciously when creating my to do list which have no separation between work and home life. Email agent is on the weekly list as finish top of dresser. Set up contest is on the same list as run 3x. It’s how I keep everything integrated.

  5. #5 by Kate Sparkes on December 5, 2013 - 7:31 am

    I am SO glad this is the WANA way! I can’t separate my author self and my personal self. I only keep one Twitter account. Yesterday I was stuck for hours in a garage while they fixed my car, and I tweeted events as they unfolded (outdated “O” magazines, awkward encounters with mechanics, leprechauns riding through on Komodo dragons… the usual). It might not have been professional, but it was me, and I think it was more interesting than “BUY MY BOOK, HERE’S DIFFERENT TAG LINE.” I’m having fun building an audience that way. Maybe it’ll carry over to books, maybe it won’t. It has more people listening than “follow me I’ll follow you back and we’ll all promote and none of us will listen to each other.” I still haven’t found anyone who can explain to me how that works.

    The idea that people once lived without clocks is fascinating to me. I have trouble wrapping my mind around the idea of not being able to say when to meet someone. I need to read more about this. :)

    • #6 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 5, 2013 - 8:29 am

      I love your tweets. They sparkle just like your name promises. Just make sure to put #MyWANA in there so we can enjoy them.

      • #7 by Kate Sparkes on December 5, 2013 - 8:33 am

        Thanks! I never want to spam up the #MyWANA feed with not-relevant stuff that might annoy people… And even when things are relevant, I tend to forget. Oops.

      • #8 by Morgyn on December 7, 2013 - 1:31 pm

        Help! So to talk to other WANA, that hashtag will carry to them?

    • #9 by Gry Ranfelt on December 5, 2013 - 9:28 am

      Do you think people just say “see ya at noon” and one would arrive at 11 am and another at 1 pm and the first would stand there for two hours, waiting?

  6. #10 by Elke Feuer on December 5, 2013 - 7:32 am

    Great tips as usual, Kristen! I love what you said about not multi-tasking but blending, and of course having fun! I have a tendency to give myself a guilt trip when I don’t get stuff done and forget the fun time I spent with family instead is a great thing!

  7. #11 by Katie Cross on December 5, 2013 - 7:51 am

    So many great points, but my favorite is in the blending/merging of our compartments. I think you’re right. Once I was able to kind of pull them all together, I’ve been able to enjoy things a lot better and work more efficiently.

    Also, being human is at the heart of every person that I admire, so yes, I’d want that to spill over into my writing.

  8. #12 by Lauren Craig on December 5, 2013 - 8:11 am

    Reblogged this on Blog of a College Writer.

  9. #13 by Elizabeth kurecka. on December 5, 2013 - 8:15 am

    Great article and insight. I work for one of those all work, no play business with big brother always watching. I rebel by doing nothing at home in the guise of chiling out and down. Who’s the winner? Surely not me according to your article. I
    Time for. E to get busy at home doing what I love–writing and playing with fur loves

  10. #14 by Tim Diggles on December 5, 2013 - 8:46 am

    I don’t like to be pedantic, but there were both highly sophisticated and very simple time keeping devices before mechanical clocks, although I take your point about our time fetishing (since a young age I become quite depressed when I haven’t a clock to look at) and the distant past, they were able to organise themselves through many means, the simplest just the knowledge of the movement of the sun. However I do take your point and for the last 200 years at least mechanical time has ruled our lives and that is changing with the 24hr world, As I am writing this it is morning with you, mid afternoon for me and yet if I wished for a response I would expect one without any thought of what your time was, this regularly happened to me in the evening and night time when it was standard working hours in the USA, home time here in the UK. It makes for good writing and plot material!

  11. #15 by Lara S on December 5, 2013 - 8:46 am

    We’re new trade publisher based in London, and especially liked your point to focus on quality, not quantity, community, not ‘customers’ and that if writers (or businesses) aren’t having fun on social media they wouldn’t do it, or would do it poorly. Social media should be fun! Heck, why not? Life’s too short.

  12. #16 by sheilaenglehart on December 5, 2013 - 8:59 am

    Although I have not yet mastered social media marketing methods I do blend many tasks to streamline my time. Native Americans also believe that work and home were never separate. What you do for work is another activity of life, and should be as honored as any personal activity.

  13. #17 by Catherine Johnson on December 5, 2013 - 9:07 am

    Great post! I love filling in the gaps on my iphone and was lost recently when it was out of action for three weeks. At last I feel balanced in everything. (Famous last words)

  14. #18 by Gry Ranfelt on December 5, 2013 - 9:25 am

    What does ”written up” mean?
    The thing about time in boxes is so true. I just got a job as an office assistant and it’s a very brain-wrecking and boring job to account things. But it’s also merely a job and once I’m away from it it’s done. I find that it’s easy to ignore distractions.
    But when I’m writing my blog posts? That’s a totally different thing. Suddenly it’s social media and job and friends are mixed together. So confusing.
    It also makes things a bit more interesting.
    And I find it’s easier to stay away from facebook if I’ve been with friends all day. The facebook/network F5 syndrome is probably due to too few hugs!!
    I think this blog post and the picture of the slide prove how far we’ve come in Marslov’s pyramid.

  15. #21 by swiveltam on December 5, 2013 - 9:45 am

    So much to LOVE in this blog. BEST line time is a non-renewable resource. Taking that for a mantra! Thank for this. Its getting easier, this blending, but I haven’t mastered it. AND it’s scary, to put your SELF out there.

  16. #22 by symplysilent on December 5, 2013 - 10:45 am

    Kristen – I loved your thoughts. When I have babies, I want them at my feet, in my lap, near me. Silent

  17. #23 by Connie Cockrell on December 5, 2013 - 11:24 am

    Great idea, blending rather than multitasking.

  18. #24 by ashokbhatia on December 5, 2013 - 11:45 am

    Great post. I have always stood for a healthier work-life balance and am delighted to know your perspective.

  19. #25 by Rachel McMahon on December 5, 2013 - 11:50 am

    I love this! Great advice, and it’s advice I needed desperately!

  20. #26 by sharonhughson on December 5, 2013 - 12:47 pm

    One of the reasons I love Kindle is that I can read books while getting a pedicure, waiting for the dentist or chilling in the airport waiting for arrival or departure. This is why I got your book in ebook format (although it was available first as well).
    Blending isn’t the same as multi-tasking? Still thinking that one through. I know for sure that some things suffer if you do them while doing something else. I don’t even listen to music when I write. I want all my creative juices able to focus on that task.

  21. #27 by Ensis on December 5, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    I’m sitting in my office at work right now! Guilt? A little.

  22. #28 by Karla Reisch Akins on December 5, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    What a truly freeing post. Love this wisdom!

  23. #29 by Christine Ardigo on December 5, 2013 - 2:59 pm

    I was thinking about this this morning. I have my regular FB page with my close friends and family but i joined FB groups and people on there want to suddenly friend me because i wrote something witty, I hesitate to accept them because i do like to write personal things on my wall. But my other FB Author page is devoid at this point, I havent friended anyone on it yet but planned on doing that in the future but like you said, i really dont want two FB profiles but i dont want strangers knowing my personal business either. What to do?

    • #30 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 5, 2013 - 4:42 pm

      Buy my book, lol. Create a private group for JUST family/close friends and invite them. The group can be invisible, closed and invitation only.

      • #31 by Christine Ardigo on December 5, 2013 - 5:17 pm

        Thank you because i REALLY didnt want strangers on there. Hee hee <3

  24. #32 by eightdecades on December 5, 2013 - 5:06 pm

    Ah finally a name for what has happened to me… I’ve become blended. my multicolored life has turned my hair gray- blended. With a fast paced life, you have pegged it very well. I enjoyed your article and the many comments you received as well.
    nice post

  25. #33 by geralynwichers on December 5, 2013 - 9:53 pm

    Hey, out of curiosity, what audios do you listen to? (You mentioned listening while exercising).

  26. #34 by jbw0123 on December 5, 2013 - 10:39 pm

    All I have to do to get a carrot for my nose is invite you for coffee? Rad. It’s a little early for leveling the Christmas fudge, so it’s good to know having fun preempts Social Media maladies. Part time to parse time. Sounds good!

  27. #35 by Sinistra Inksteyne on December 6, 2013 - 1:29 am

    Humans are designed for relationship, right? Just don’t diss my little friends the digital crickets!
    Sadly, my Dreaded Day Job believes Work Time is for Work – and Your Time is also for Work if we can wangle it out of you….
    By the by, I hope your husband fired that no-good job.

  28. #36 by ontyrepassages on December 6, 2013 - 2:41 am

    I can second what you say, for I’ve experienced what happens firsthand. This year I started an “author’s page” on FB and a blog on WP simultaneously. I also retained my homepage on FB. Thus, my life was split on FB and “blended” on WP. For the first four months my numbers grew on both sites with the FB author’s site slightly ahead. And then the FB site stalled and the numbers on WP started kept growing. At that point I read your book and uttered a profound, “Uh-oh.” Since then there’s continued to be no growth on the FB site and WP is growing exponentially. Too, the readership on FB declined until I started sharing the author’s content on my homepage. It’s a mess and I’m thinking about the most graceful way to back of the FB situation, which I’m sure will include scrapping the author’s page.

    • #37 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 6, 2013 - 8:24 am

      Keep the author page and build the personal one. Once you get close to the 5,000 mark, transition over. If you NEED a private, personal space for close friends and family? Create a private group that is invitation only and closed. It will be invisible to anyone not invited or involved.

  29. #39 by knotrune on December 6, 2013 - 7:08 am

    I have more time than energy, so it’s not so much that I feel guilty not doing things, I’ve had to learn to live with that as I am disabled. But it is always useful to know how to be efficient and make things fun :) Now I finally have a first draft (thanks nano!) I need to move to the next step, edits, but also checking out stuff like WANA. Before I always just felt like, that’s all very well and good, but I can’t really call myself a writer if I can’t even finish a first draft. But now, I am a writer! And it is time to do the other things that writers do, as well as write :) Your blog has been very helpful and I’m sure it will continue to be.

  30. #40 by Leah St. James on December 6, 2013 - 7:26 am

    Wow, this really opened my eyes. You’ve perfectly described my work/writing/play(ha!) structure. Get up at 4:30 a.m. to do my “writing” stuff…except there’s too much to fit in before have to get to the day job. I’m there 9-plus frenzied hours a day. Can’t tweet, FB, etc., except maybe a few quick hits at my so-called lunch. Drag myself home too exhausted think. Next day, get up at 4:30 a.m…. I have to re-read this and really think about how to make some changes. Thanks, Kristen!

  31. #41 by staceywilk on December 6, 2013 - 12:51 pm

    Great post, Kristen. Thank you!

  32. #42 by Mira Prabhu on December 9, 2013 - 4:17 am

    Amazing how enlarging one’s view can alter the unchallenged view of our life/lifestyle…your post is wonderful and I hope it really provokes everyone who reads it to think about how we are spending this finite resource called “time” — a spiritual teacher changed my life when he said to me – you think you’re so smart because you make good money working in Manhattan, wear black and party — but what you don’t realize is that you are a slave — the one thing these corporations can never recompense you for is your precious time…that one message went so deep I jumped out and have been “retired” for the past 14 years…thanks again Kristen.

  33. #43 by Raani York on December 9, 2013 - 4:17 pm

    I love this post, Kristen. You’re speaking from my heart. :-) And with your humor – it’s just great!

  34. #44 by Jan S. Gephardt on December 9, 2013 - 7:01 pm

    You SAID it! Great post!

  35. #45 by Bumba on December 18, 2013 - 2:35 pm

    Another effect of the development of clocks: Circa 1850, Industrial Revolution, the notion of productivity, worker productivity, arises. Wasting time, efficiency, rushing around as fast as you can etc all began. Earlier societies didn’t worry so much about time. Sorry, can’t write any more. I have to go!

  36. #46 by Julie Musil (@juliemusil) on February 11, 2014 - 10:53 am

    Oooh, great post! I actually love social media because it’s fun to connect with people. And boy, do I learn a lot from others.

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