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Forget the Four-Hour Workweek

text messageIs there anyone out there multi-tasking the way they used to? Don’t answer that if you’re going to say yes, because that’s not what I want to hear. If I can’t juggle as many task as I used to, I sure don’t want to know that I’m the only boomer who feels that way.

The truth is that I find myself juggling fewer tasks and enjoying it much more. When I was younger, it was a point of pride that I could handle so many things at one time. Now, I get more satisfaction doing one task well and moving on to the next.

It was not that long ago that we admired the mid-level manager or professional who could talk on the phone, read a report, and answer an instant message. Now I realized that this behavior is lunacy and doing it for extended periods will surely shorten your life.

Recently, I read about the latest time management best-seller The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss, that is all the rage in Silicon Valley. Rather than extoll the virtues of the tech tools some call “productivity porn,” Ferriss recommends chucking that work model in favor of less email, less instant messaging, and more delegating. His resume is a little scary, given that he’s a former kickboxer and tango champion and founder of an internet-based sports nutrition business, but it’s a refreshing message. Ferriss calls it a “low information diet” but the point is that most of us are overloaded with constant communication in the form of emails and text messages, and dealing with all this information is making us less, not more productive. Equally refreshing is his concept computer screenof “selective ignorance,” by which he means tuning out the stream of useless information that’s beamed at us all day long.

There’s something purely escapist about his entire theory, and I’ve been around long enough to know that there have been plenty of time management gurus before Ferriss who have spouted the same theories. Still, it’s tempting to think you can get rid of all your gadgets, stop reading your email and make a million dollars.

In the end, I go back to my father’s frequent advice. Moderation is the key. I’m not about to get rid of my email, but I don’t have to check it 30 times a day. Taking a vacation without thinking about work or trying to keep up with work news is healthier than obsessing about it 24/7. The 4-hour Workweek was a brilliant choice for a title, but a 50 hour work week will work fine for me, thanks.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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