As a writer and an avid reader, I often hear people say, “I never have time to read a book”. Odd since most of us try to manage our lives in a manner that saves time.
If while reading this you are also listening to music while texting a friend as you play a computer game then you are multitasking. You’re saving time, right? Well, maybe not but you’re not alone.
We live in a fast-paced culture where we place value on how many tasks we can accomplish in the least amount of time but multitasking could actually cost time. In fairness, it is only a few tenths of a second but those seconds add up and the point is that we aren’t adding any time to those fleeting hours.
I am just as guilty since I am writing this while eating my lunch. In fact, I eat most of my meals at the counter while feeding the baby as I make notes for work and listen to the news. Yet, somehow I am always scrambling to get more done. Not only do I not save time but also I don’t enjoy the tasks I am performing or accomplish them very well.
The baby has more food on his cheeks than in his mouth, my notes are indecipherable and I am not sure if I ate a bit of chicken or last month’s missing gummy bear. Trying to complete several jobs simultaneously only results in having to redo half of them causing me to lose most of the time I was trying to save.
It isn’t a question of how do we do more in less time but rather how are we spending our time? We have become a culture who now expects—no, demands that our information is given to us in pithy two sentence statements and that we receive this information in fast bursts. After all, we are saving time. And sure, we are able to learn about Snookie’s latest drunken exploit while hearing coverage on the President as we find out through Facebook about our friend’s divorce. But are we saving time? Or is this even worth our time?
Did you ever wonder how our grandparents seemed to have more time? They worked twelve-hour days. They worked on farms. Still they ate at the table. They had long conversations. They read books. And yet they had fewer appliances and electronic gadgets designed to make life easier—to save time.
But ah, there’s the rub. Because we have more devices to help us accomplish more, we feel that we have to do more. But do you really need to send that text or email, check Facebook or Twitter, and make calls in the car? If you eliminate even half of it, you will time to read a book. But why should you?
You should because reading a book is time well spent. Reading is a silent and solitary task that allows you to focus, dream, fantasize, think, develop ideas, and change your perspective. It quiets the distractions enabling you to reconnect with your imagination and yourself. It is like a good meal where you take the time to sit, smell the aromas, taste the spices, swallow, and enjoy. And just as good food nourishes the body so a good book will nourish the soul.
So I say to all you busy multitaskers with no time to read a book—you have time if only you spend it wisely. So in this world of sound bytes and scroll bars, take time for what really matters and you will realize that when you close the last chapter, you haven’t missed much except a text or two and you can always catch up while you watch the news.
Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International