Cara Hagen has a fun post on her EdTechConnection blog describing the challenges she faces as she tries to balance blogging and learning new technologies with the other demands of her personal and professional life:
How messy can I let my house get because I’m online instead of on my
knees scrubbing? How much time with my kids am I willing to give up in
order to get up to speed on all the possibilities of Google Docs. How many frozen pizzas can I serve while I try to catch up on the many many sites I want to post to my del.icio.us list?
Of course this is a serious issue for most of us – there is WAY too much cool stuff to learn.
Barry Schwartz has written about the often-debilitating effects of having too many choices. I think the magnitude of learning, and learning choices, related to digital technologies is one of the things that makes them so intimidating / frightening to teachers, administrators, and professors. They see the potential but they also see the time drain. These are realistic concerns; as technology-oriented change agents, we ignore them at our peril.
There are, of course, two items lacking in the list of things sacrificed in order to keep up on the blogging and checking the RSS aggregator – how much work am I willing to ignore at my job while I spend time reading and blogging, and how much sleep am I willing to lose? I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice the time with family or the tidy house, although I don’t mind frozen pizzas. Consequently I stayed up so late I was getting only 5 or 6 hours sleep per night. This takes its toll on all of the other activities.
It’s good – actually, it is imperative that technology leaders be role models in the balance between learning/exploring new technology, and the need to take care of the things that are more fundamental in life. My solution was simple – stop blogging as much, and reduce my list of sources in my aggregator to about a dozen. And congratulations, Scott, you made the list ;^)
Well – time to get back to work.
Very interesting dilemma. In most circumstances having many choices is a good thing, ie. choosing colleges, jobs, or what clothes you want to wear. However, there is definitely a point where there is too much and all of you have hit the nail on the head. What are we willing to sacrifice in order to stay informed. I think of the many hours I sit in front of my computer, whether it be in the office or at home and it’s ridiculous. I have become ‘addicted’ to having information at my fingertips with a click of the mouse. A day without emails, news, and blogs rarely happens.
I agree technology leaders should set an example by balancing life and technology. I am going to try your advice and get rid of the ‘junk’ blogs that I have signed up for and try to keep just the ones that will get me the information I want. However, I don’t know if this will be as easy as it sounds. Ultimately, we are going to continue to see this problem develop as more and more people begin using blogs. We have long blamed the television for the obesity epidemic in our country…I think we have a new scapegoat.
I’m glad to know I’m not the only one whose “piles” are stacking up at home so that I can compose a good blog post.
I think of it though, as the excitement I felt when in college, when most of my energies were being directed at learning and reading, and lesser energies on cooking or the household types of duties. I think blogging and the ability to learn online with knowledge at my fingertips has reignited that sense of “all the time” learning. And that, despite piled up mail or a little extra laundry, is a great thing, in my opinion!
Too true, Justin and Carolyn. Now that there is so much information out there in real-time by real people, I spend much more time in front of my home computer. It used to be I was sick of computers by the time I left work, but now I spend “free” weekends – hours at a time – on my laptop in front of the TV while my techie husband does the same. Everything from getting up-to-date with my favorite blogs (that list grows daily) or teaching myself about CSS and PHP so I can customize my own site, to emailing my mom pictures of our recent huge snowfall. And yet we are still enjoying time with each other and learning from each other as we work and play. This past weekend I thought about taking a break to go to the gym but never quite got there. Hard to say how this might change when kids are added to the mix… So far the housework is still getting done and bills are still getting paid!
This is something that over the course of the last two weeks, has really hit home. Being a coach, community organization member, school principal and … I’m seeing that the bigger and flatter the world, the more it is likely that we will have too much to choose. The first response is to just dump whatever is not immediate. There goes the blogging! However, as a professional, I know that these things go in cycles where I am very busy no matter what I am doing so the whole idea of time-management becomes important. This one skill is, I believe, a skill that is completely underrated but, for many of us, of utmost importance. Thus, we stumble along trying to get through our aggregators because it bothers us that they are full and we might miss something instead of prioritizing things and realizing that not all things can be done. This is something, I feel, that we do not adequately teach our students. We discuss it and touch how important it is but we do not spend time dealing with the implications of not being able to manage properly. I’m learning that I don’t have to read or visit Google-Reader everyday – I like to but sometimes it is not possible. If something is good, it will show up again. Being able to prioritize will become even more important as things flatten out even more. As leaders, we need to be able to differentiate between what is critical and what can be left. Sometimes, to our own determent, we don’t.
Rob’s first comments hit the nail on the head for me. Some times are not negotiable and so I don’t compromise family time.
So am I letting work pile up to blog…this can’t happen…it’s what they pay me for and ultimately, as much as I love the learning and the sharing that comes through the blogosphere, I know where my priorities lie. The hard part of course for many of us is that this technology that we are embracing is also the very technology that we are striving to keep up with. All the while trying to work out and come to grips with its implications on learning.
So, what suffers? Sleep. And I LOVE sleep. Ahh, the price of learning.