Over the weekend while I sat reading some emails and my commitment towards writing Oh I See!, a 4-year old walked by and curiously observed my activities, uninterested she moved on. An hour later, once again she found me transfixed at the same spot. This time she queried the nature of my busyness. I replied that I was working. “What are you working on? Do you have homework? If you did not do your homework, your teacher will punish you?”
The illusive free time
What is the incentive for any CXO to invest his/ her spare time towards anything related to work? Do organizations really expect 24X7 attention? The portable computer was just the beginning, the tablet is not the end; increased connectivity driven by technology advances in telecom coupled with mobile-enabled work processes as well as applications leave few areas unexplored. But these are optional to some extent and do not impact everyone in the same way. Reality is that work expands to fill all the time like traffic expands to take up available bandwidth in a network. Are you doing what matters?
So is there a way out? Different strategies work for different people. Some take the discretionary route to carefully decide what occupies their precious time. It could be reading newsletters, industry research, business magazines or management books, or just the general newspapers, fiction; and other categories like travel also find their place. It is the discipline that keeps them going. The time thus spent is invested in gaining perspectives or insights that could help in various walks of life. The remaining choose to stay away from such mundane activities.
The dying habit of reading
While I make a general observation from my limited span of friends, colleagues and acquaintances I have interacted with, the fact is that reading as a habit or investment is waning. Most IT professionals slog to acquire various degrees and certifications, but stop short of expanding horizons. This is despite the fact that it is a lot easier to find information in all forms, print or digital. Reasons and excuses revolve around paucity of time, to work pressures to just plain inertia.