One of my favourite childhood TV programmes was Tomorrow’s World. Michael Rodd & co. demonstrated the latest seemingly crazy ideas to a fascinated world. I remember a very early mobile phone with a suitcase to hold the battery!
I saw it coming
When I was 10 years old I had a book about computers and technology. It showed someone shopping through their television. Apparently the goods would then be delivered to their house. I thought, “That’s ridiculous, it would require all the computers in the world to be joined together somehow.” Wish I’d patented the idea, seems Tim Berners-Lee got there first!
I remember when email first gained traction in the early nineties. We all had Compuserve email addresses, email@example.com. Even though the dial-up Internet connection was unimaginably slow by today’s standards, it enabled us to stay one step ahead of the boss, who could never quite work out how we were all so well informed.
Smarter not Harder
“Work smarter not harder” is an established mantra. The dream of Tomorrow’s World was that technology would enable us to have life easier, not busier. Unfortunately that is not always true.
However, if you have any kind of control over your working practice then you can be intentional about your technology usage to get more reach, more efficiency and more leisure.
As a magician doing kids parties I need to appear to be local to my potential clients. For some reason they are quite happy to commute a couple of hours to work but they like to feel that their entertainer is just round the corner. Years ago I remember pondering how I could maybe advertise in hundreds of parish magazines. I couldn’t work out a way of doing it.
Then the Internet showed up. Everything changed. I learned how to stick a database behind my website and with basic SEO I suddenly had a local website for every town and city within 80 miles of my house. Magic! Sleight of Web, if you will…
Fifteen years ago I used to spend hundreds of pounds each week on magazine advertising and employ two people to handle bookings and enquiries. I now spend nothing on advertising and handle all the bookings and enquiries myself, largely through automation. And I am doing more bookings than I used to. All thanks to the power of technology.
Although it can never replace face-to-face for quality, the web is a great place for building business networks and maintaining long-term friendships. Make a habit of always saying “Happy birthday!” to your Facebook friends. It will give them a warm feeling about you and keep you in their mind, and them in yours.
Tech can also bring much greater efficiency in both life and work.
My wife and I have synchronised diaries (via Google calendar) and shopping list (Wunderlist) which both make life so much easier.
Tech also helps us to redeem downtime. I love my MacBook Pro. Since I have got it I have been able to use the odd five minutes here and there to deal with the odd email or two. Pairing it with the hotspot on my phone means that I can use it in the car (not while driving!) on the way to gigs and on the train on the way to meetings.
Training and learning have become so much easier. Again, face-to-face is the ultimate, but it is time consuming and expensive. Podcasts, audiobooks and online video mean that learning as and when you can has never been easier. Car journeys become a rolling university thanks to podcasts. Magic trick training videos can be downloaded and studied instantly.
Live the Dream
All this should mean that we have more leisure time. After all, that was the “Tomorrow’s World” dream.
I would encourage you to pursue this a much as possible. The world of work will conspire against you, there is always something apparently urgent to attend too. However, quality downtime is essential for “sharpening the saw,” as Stephen Covey puts it. You have to be intentional about it. Create exercise habits, put things in the diary that you can’t move, take yourself on “artist dates” (The Artist’s Way).
It can be done, but it won’t happen automatically.
You are living in Tomorrow’s World. Make sure you enjoy it!