Work less, play more?

By Danielle Arad - September 21, 2011

“Chris, relax!” is something I hear a lot. On my honeymoon these past two weeks, it is not a big surprise that relaxing has been a challenge. After all, I am writing a blog post right now, with 4 days left on the trip.

I was not aware how bad my anti-relaxation disorder was until I got a full sense of how unrelaxed we are in the US period and how I’m the least relaxed person I know in the least relaxed country in the world. What is going on?

On one of the tours we did, we got into a small discussion of working hours in France. Not only do they have work weeks of only 35 hours a week, but they earn more in “bonus” vacations per year than an average person in the US gets in total vacations. Each month they earn 2 days off in addition to their already lump of 6 weeks off a year. A grand total of around 8 weeks a year off, wow!

So after my envy settled I realized, there is no way I could handle it. If I was off that much I would have work piling up like crazy and always be way behind. And unless I can get ahead sometimes, I will surely never relax. So the solution is of course is to find a way to reduce the work, or automate it. Being a technologist, my thoughts turned quickly into how am I using technology to free up 8 weeks a year?

The exercise was harder than I thought. I realized that while many of the technologies I used were time savers, some were even time wasters, and others both wasters and savers depending on when I used it. Given my best guess, this is the calculation I could come up with.

First is CloudShare. I typically setup 2 SharePoint VMs a month for various reasons. Before CloudShare it took me about 8 hours to do what I can now do in 15 minutes. That is 7 hr 45 min savings per VM creation, a total of 4.5 days a year. 35.5 days to go. Here is the rest:

  • VM Creation and Maintenance Automation with CloudShare = 4.5 days a year savings
  • Expense Report Entry Automation = 2 days a year savings
  • Automation of email categorization and organization = 5.75 days a year savings
  • Business “must reads” on CD = 7 days a year savings
  • Tweets/IM instead of long emails = 2.5 days a year savings
  • Reducing re-reading with grammar check = 3 days a year savings
  • Web Research = 11.5 days a year savings

Total savings thus far is about 36.25 days, near my goal of 40 days a year.

That solves the first problem, focusing on automation with technology. The next big problem is finding a better way to use my newly found free time. Rather than sending even more emails, more tweets, and just more work. How are you using technology to save time? And what are you doing with that time?