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99's On the Go
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Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2014 Brian Remer
Updated Mar. 2015
99's on the 9th
based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.
Read this story aloud or make copies for your group or team members.
Kate responded sternly when her college students complained that they didn't have adequate time to complete assignments. "There are 24 hours in every day. You had the same number of those hours as everyone else," she would reply. Sounds harsh? Maybe.
It's true, some tasks cannot be done in the allotted time and some people need more time to accomplish the same things. But usually when we "don't have time" it's because we chose to do something else. We each have complete control of our time.
Do we mis-allocate our time or do we misalign our priorities?
You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.
There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.
A man relaxes on a sofa with a drink in his hand. Across the room sits a combination stand-up computer workstation-treadmill. To his friend he explains, "It's great for multicrastinating."
This single-panel cartoon by Paul Noth appeared in the March 9, 2015 edition of The New Yorker and it captures an interesting concept: We can be very busy all the time but not necessarily accomplish anything.
Our phones, tablets, and digital devices are now ever present affording us the superhuman power of multitasking. But that ability is an illusion. Scientists cited in Winifred Gallagher's book, Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, offer evidence that multitasking is a myth. We don't really learn to do two or three things at once; we divide our attention into short snippets and distribute them among tasks. Every break in our focus requires a cranial re-start creating inefficiency and interjecting mistakes.
In our wired world, we need to decide which electronics will catch our eye in the moment. Nicholas Carr's book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brain, raises the question of whether all the constant interruptions to our thinking from tweets, cell phones, instant messages, and email notices might be preventing us from thinking critically and creatively. So having the latest smart watch probably won't make you any smarter.
One path through the attention jungle is suggested by the 99-Word Story. Clarity about our priorities helps us decide how to spend our time and earmark our resources. You really do have exactly the same amount of time every day that I have. But whose needs should we address first? Should we respond to the crisis of the moment or a long-term goal? Is your job most important or your family or your physical fitness or your continuing education? Only you can decide. And that's part of the problem: Most of the time we don't. We let others decide for us.
After all, it's easier to focus the blame on someone else than it is to focus our attention on what's really important. Yes, other people will make demands. But neither should your own personal needs always come first. Only with clarity about our goals and knowledge of the essential steps to advance toward them, we can discern which tasks should distract us and for how long.
They say time is money so we spend it, save it, and waste it. We can be on time or take time off. Whether we are full time or part time, we start time or end it. Time can be honored, suspended, broken, or bound. Through wintertime, springtime, and summertime, it flies, so time is best when managed. But to be a good timekeeper, align your priorities.
Read my review of RAPT: Attention and the Focused Life (by Winifred Gallagher, Penguin Books, 2010, ISBN 978-0-14-311690-5) in the March 2010 Firefly News Flash HERE.
Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.
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