T&A (or: All we have is Time and Attention)

Merlin Mann (he of the productivity blog 43Folders.com) thinks that we don’t take ourselves seriously enough.

That’s an odd idea coming one of the funniest podcasters on the web. (Please tell me you have heard and been appropriately offended by You Look Nice Today.)

It’s not that he wants people to take everything seriously. Just the value of our time, and of our attention. These two precious commodities are nowhere near as real-seeming to us as, for example, $20 in cash. In fact, we think we have so much that we allow them to be wasted in enormous quantities. Via always-on email, for example, where any human being on the planet who can figure out how to push a few keys can rob you blind. Via Facebook or ESPN. Via standing meetings with time limits and no agenda. Via blogs. (Oops!)

So the question is: What can you do about it? How can you use all that T&A in a way that’s useful and meaningful to you — not just to the people around you? And, conversely, how can you avoid sucking up huge slurps of time and attention from your co-workers, colleagues and clients?

That’s the subject of this funny, entertaining, partially improvised talk Merlin gave at Rutgers University. You can watch the video (here or on his site or on YouTube) or listen (here or on his site or on iTunes). You will laugh. You will learn a lot. And you might event gain back a big chunk of your life.

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