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The Technology Black Hole of Free Time

Back to school means back to the battles with Blackboard (I've posted on that plenty of times). Even if BB was the perfect learning management system, there would still be the days spent planning and organizing online content for a new course. This week, I'm gathering the reusable materials I will upload and preparing new materials. By next week, the shell for the writing course I'm teaching will be reasonably complete.

My summer was meant to be spent learning to program in Objective-C. It was also meant as a time to finished a research project and revise an academic book chapter. None of those things happened. Life in the digital age doesn't seem to give us more time, but it does give us more potential tasks. My to-do list kept growing faster than I could complete projects.

Maybe it is a time management issue. I completed a lot of tasks in the last few months, many of them creative writing projects. I also am preparing a new website complementing my creative interests. But most of the projects on my list are incomplete.

I have four different website projects I wanted to complete. No progress on most of these projects. I wanted to spend time programming. Progress made, but abruptly stalled and it is difficult to get back to coding without reviewing the materials I read earlier this year. Use it or lose it seems to apply to programming. It's just overwhelming how much isn't finished at the end of this summer.

Computing technology makes it easier than ever to create calendars and task lists. Unfortunately, someone like me spends so much time organizing and planning, that there's actually less time in the day. My wife and I love lists, but the lists start to feel like a crushing weight.

I have to remind myself that finishing the projects I did finish would be more than enough for many people. But, I have projects that are years old on which I want to make some progress!

We created a blogging schedule. I wasn't able to maintain it. I'd start to get into a routine and another project would appear. Blogging, which pays a little but not a lot via ad revenues, gets pushed aside by gigs that pay more. Working on our writing website was pushed aside for academic work years ago.

If there's a better way to use technology to manage time, and output, I need to discover what it is. For now, life just seems overwhelming.

To start a blog, a website, or a coding project is easy. Too easy. How many sites are "stale" or "zombies" that haven't been updating in months or years? How many are forgotten? I don't want to neglect our sites as badly as I have seen others neglected. But, keeping online projects alive is overwhelming. Maybe blogs and websites aren't the future anyway. If that's the case, why do I have so many Web projects on my to-do list?

Back to school means that the online aspects of teaching will consume a fair amount of my time. If anything, the online course content takes more time, more energy, than teaching the old "face-to-face" way. Technology has a magical ability to consume hours. Those hours slip by even faster if you happen to feel "inspired" to create or update online content with new tools.

Technology is a black hole for "free" time. Especially for a geek like me. In the end, it leaves me feeling disorganized and out of control. So I update my calendars and my to-do lists.


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