Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.
I always thought seconds mattered only to Olympians and NASCAR drivers.
Yet after watching New York Times columnist David Pogue's entertaining Top 10 Time-Saving Tech Tips TEDTalk (try saying that aloud without getting strange looks from passersby) I realize I haven't been experiencing all life has to offer, simply because I've been frittering away valuable seconds.
Up until now I have always been prone to measuring success in minutes. I'm able to power nap in 10 minutes, mow my lawn in 45 minutes and cook an egg in three minutes. Yet there was Pogue, eliciting "oohs" and "aaahs" from an enraptured TED audience when he revealed that hitting the space bar twice on mobile phones would insert a period in texts and emails. I'd been doing it the cumbersome way, switching to punctuation layout to locate the period. Doing so cost me 1.3 seconds, sometimes more depending on my thumb dexterity. With the amount of emails and texts I send each day, my time savings could add up quickly if I switched to Pogue's method.
Last week I found myself in Orlando, waiting for a shuttle bus to the Magic Kingdom. The red and white Disney busses are like police officers -- they're everywhere until you actually need one. Upon exiting my hotel, I frantically waved my arms in the direction of a bus idling at the boarding facility near a shaded canopy. The canopies incidentally do a fine job of lowering the outside temperature from 98 to 97; Disney attendees don't feel the full brunt of Florida weather until they are actually in the ticket line, when their sweat glands kick into overdrive and don't cease functioning until their owners enter the air conditioned confines of "It's A Small World." Say what you want about the irritating theme song; Small World is five minutes (300 seconds) of bliss before returning to the scorching cobblestones.
But I digress; in very non-Disney fashion the driver sped away, leaving me to wait 15 minutes -- that's 900 seconds -- for another bus. Infuriated, I realized I had nobody but myself to blame. Why hadn't I known about the space bar trick when I was in my room tapping out emails? I could have saved at least 45 seconds. I could have caught that bus! That would have gotten me to the park 20 minutes earlier, allowing me to spend more time shoulder to shoulder with cranky families in stifling humidity while we waited for a malfunctioning Space Mountain to reopen.
While researching new mobile phones online, I came across this scathing review from a dissatisfied Blackberry user: "I pressed the Blackberry (menu) button. I waited another full second. I hit 'compose message,' which took another full second before the screen came up to write a new message. Then I began typing. Two full seconds later the rest of the letters appeared!!!"
Note to this user: It's possible to brew a cup of decaffeinated coffee in seconds.
Pogue's talk, and Blackberry critic's assessment show that technology has ratcheted our impatience levels to new highs. How else to explain the messages assuring us our downloads have just seconds to go or we will be redirected to a new page in one second? For kicks, I Googled "How to...in seconds" and was amazed at the variety of results. With all these extra seconds saved from Pogue's talk, I now have time to watch videos and read articles explaining how to fold a shirt in two seconds, win Monopoly in 21 seconds, peel a potato in 10 seconds, completely disable someone in five seconds and stop a temper tantrum in seconds. The latter two would have come in extremely handy at Disney World.
Other Google finds told me how to fall asleep in 30 seconds, chill beer in 45 seconds and, conveniently, sober up in seconds.
I bookmarked all the web pages and plan to look at them next week while waiting for the cable repairman.
Unfortunately, that could take hours, maybe even days.
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