The Great Time Vacuum

January 30, 2012 / Talks

Have you ever said this to yourself?

“What if I could have back all that money I’ve spent on eating at restaurants over the years?”

Replace “eating at restaurants” with whatever you want… clothes, movies, cars, you get it.

So what about time?

I always find myself saying “What if I could have back all that time I’ve spent sending emails?”

I’ve said this before on Twitter and I mean it.

I am a full-time emailer that sometimes takes photos.

Email is what I do all day. Literally. It’s my ball and chain. I can never get around to doing what I want to do because of emails.

And don’t hear me saying that I am sooooo popular. Cause I’m not. I don’t get THAT many emails. I know a lot of people who send and receive a lot more emails than I do.

But it’s enough to drive me crazy. Sometimes I feel like at the end of my life I’m going to say “Well…. I sure sent a lot of emails.”

Maybe this is why I like Twitter so much. I swear 140 character limit was the greatest thing ever invented. It forces us to be short and sweet, doesn’t it?

I’d be really scared to know how many hours I’ve spent over the last 10 years typing emails. And what do I have to show for it? What if all that time had been spent creating instead? (Yes, I know some of you will get technical in the comments and explain how my career would be nothing without all those emails and communication but you get the gist of what I’m saying. What if MOST of that time had been creating instead of talking about creating?)

It’s interesting to wonder how productive the masters of art history would have been in the world of email and tweets. Would Picasso have produced 40,000 paintings? I doubt it.

I’ll never be known for my email work and neither will you.

So here I am. To some extent, I’m done with emails. I realize I can’t quit email all together. There’s some work stuff that can’t be ignored (and a lot of work stuff that actually can and should be ignored). Family. Close friends. And a few other things of course. But I’ve always been that guy that feels obligated to respond to nearly everything. That time has come to an end. So if you email me and I don’t respond, PLEASE don’t be offended. You are still awesome. I just want to spend more time away from my computer and more time with my wife and kids and pencils and paint and anything else that allows me to create.

I hope you’ll consider joining me in the fight against The Great Time Vacuum.

21 comments
SteveTlaMacRae
SteveTlaMacRae

I found your page because I'm looking for "TV = Time Vacuum."  


Yes, I agree that emailing has downsides..


Brevity is fabulous.   Is there a way to make Twitter more permanent and more easily searched (and refound)?  How can we study past tweets?


I think I found a way by uploading videos to a YouTube channel

by uploading a photo and comments to a Blog (through email from my phone)

by emailing a photo and a comment to myself by using my phone.



All of these actions are linked to your central concept of getting away from "email from a computer."   I've created a post at TheWeekendSchool.blogspot.com http://theweekendschool.blogspot.com/2015/12/guidelines-for-weekend-school.html


THANK YOU



Duoimagery
Duoimagery

This is so true. Thank you for the reminder! Time is so precious.

Ryan Ketterman
Ryan Ketterman

Ironically I just signed up for your blog to get even MORE email in my inbox... (facepalm)

Ryan Ketterman
Ryan Ketterman

Ditto, ditto, ditto. Email is the bane of my life. Try as I may my inbox will never be empty.... and if it was that'd probably be a sign that I was out of business. It really is a hamster wheel for humans... keeping us pointlessly occupied while never truly taking us anywhere.

Pierre Graf
Pierre Graf

Haha. I'm always amazed by certain topic on your blog. Very original. I'm sure i'll be known as one of the best J.Coward followers sometimes. THAT IS time eating (but worth it!) ;)

Younes Bounhar
Younes Bounhar

Avoiding time wasters is the first thing they should teach you in business classes (and in life in general)...I am not sure I'll give up emails, but I know of at least a thing or two I could and should do without :)

Will Foster
Will Foster

Time is a very valuable thing. Personally, I have just been really re-tooling what I do with my time. I am not married (although I want to be) so I have a bit of flexibility until I am. I try to take full advantage of what I am best at, and have to cut loose ends to things that I am not. Definitely still learning how things that I'm good at are not as important at things I'm great at. It's a priority game. I am learning how to work with others, and be more collaborative, which is weird and difficult considering I have taken pride in "doing it all myself."

michael anthony murphy
michael anthony murphy

guess i didn't read bob mckerrell's comment. anyway. there you go. two advising you to check it out. lol

michael anthony murphy
michael anthony murphy

damn straight brother. I'm in. btw, you may have seen the c jarvis interview with tim ferriss. excellent video. great speaker. he has a technique for minimizing email time. forget the name of the site to do so but worth giving a shot.

Bob McKerrell
Bob McKerrell

Read the 4-hour workweek by Tim Ferriss. Although a bit crazy and off the wall, he has some awesome time saving tips and is a great book. Eliminate, Delegate and Automate!

duckshots@comcast.net
duckshots@comcast.net

Me, too dude. I study at Hallmark Institute of Photography. Ever hear of it? People here would love to see you.

Brian Richards
Brian Richards

Jeremy, you've nailed it. I've been working on a personal system to reduce the number of hours I spend each week in email. Here's a beautifully simple site that's helped me in that quest: http://www.three.sentenc.es/ Respond to all email is three (or two, four or five) sentences or less. Then use your email signature to explain why you're being so terse. If there's even a single person on earth who doesn't understand why you're doing it, I'll be surprised. Also, batch-processing your email, by limiting email communication to just a couple hours and only 1-2 days per week is a huge relief. If it ever gets too depressing/overwhelming, train a digital assistant to handle email communications on your behalf, only forwarding along the ones that REALLY need your attention. Your future self will thank you.

Charity
Charity

I love this! Definitely signed up to protest "The Great Time Vacuum"

Kirsten
Kirsten

D'you know, there are now holidays you can book that are 'wifi free'. The resort has NO access to email or internet for guests and your mobiles won't work (the internet on them). Doesn't that sound heavenly?

Sara Kauss
Sara Kauss

After spending 3 hours this morning answering emails, I opened twitter and laughed out loud at how relative your post was to my morning! I concur.

Zach McNair
Zach McNair

I'm emailing you my thoughts on this post right now...

Lisa Carpenter
Lisa Carpenter

VERY well said!! I truly enjoy your blog and sharing it as well.

Amanda H.
Amanda H.

I think this is commendable, Jeremy. Sometimes I just want to turn off my phone, delete my facebook, and disconnect from the world for a while. I like having the tools when I need them, but too much of my time is given to social media and online communication. I'm glad somebody said it. Thanks for sharing your frustrations.

Philip Rawson
Philip Rawson

Sign me up! The Great Time Vacuum will go on without us...

Trackbacks

  1. [...] down the road. Thoughts about how we spend our time. Recently I had read a post by photographer Jeremy Cowart on how he wished he had invested less time into e-mailing and his words stuck with me. It’s not only e-mail, it’s also facebook, twitter, the internet in general, TV [...]

  2. [...] down the road. Thoughts about how we spend our time.Recently I had read a post by photographer Jeremy Cowart on how he wished he had invested less time into e-mailing and his words stuck with me. It’s notonly e-mail, it’s also facebook, twitter, the internet in general, TV [...]

  3. [...] down the road. Thoughts about how we spend our time. Recently I had read a post by photographer Jeremy Cowart on how he wished he had invested less time into e-mailing and his words stuck with me. It’s not only e-mail, it’s also facebook, twitter, the internet in general, TV [...]

  4. [...] down the road. Thoughts about how we spend our time.Recently I had read a post by photographer Jeremy Cowart on how he wished he had invested less time into e-mailing and his words stuck with me. It’s notonly e-mail, it’s also facebook, twitter, the internet in general, TV [...]

  5. [...] that.  I sat there mind blown how this super successful photographer had basically said he was done with email (<<<read his post).  It resonated so deeply with me, and I longed for that freedom.   [...]