How to feel like you have time to read everything

The cocktail party conversations I have about what I do for a living reveal so much about the world. For example, if I say I have an Internet startup, people generally think: She's unemployed. If I say I write a syndicated newspaper column that runs in 200 papers, people are impressed. If I tell people I'm a blogger, they say, “I don't have time to read blogs.”

Here's what I am going to start saying to those people: Only losers say they don't have time to read blogs. Because everyone has the same 24 hours in the day. So it's not that you somehow are more busy than everyone else — no one is actually too busy for anything — the issue is that reading blogs is not high enough on your priority list to read them.

So the real response, when I say, “I'm a blogger,” should be “I stay away from blogs so I can shield myself from alternative opinions to mainstream media.” And you wouldn't want to be that person, right? In fact, you're probably not that person, because look, you're reading this blog.

But the problem of saying “I don't have time to read that” applies to anything — it could be blogs but it could be those really long articles in the Atlantic that scream: “I know no one is reading this article! I only wrote it to get a book deal!”The reality is that you have time to read everything.

Here’s what to do if you feel like you can’t get a grip on your reading pile:

Stop talking about information overload. That term is for weaklings. Guess what? Generation Y never talks about information overload. That's because they know how to process information better than anyone else. That's actually what they were doing when their parents told them to turn off the TV and the music and log off of IM and do their homework.

Information overload is actually the feeling that you cannot sort through the resources in the world in order to figure out what's important. If you feel like you are overwhelmed it means that your career is at risk, because the best employees in today's workplace are information synthesizers. And information synthesizers don't feel overwhelmed by information — they either use it or they don't, but they don't whine that there's too much.

(Here's a way to test yourself for how fast you can process information online. Look at these two blogs for three seconds each: On Simplicity and Marginal Revolution. Can you tell which is the bigger? If you can't figure it out that quickly, you won't be able to sort information quickly. Solve the problem by practicing: You don't need to read more stuff to decrease your sense of information overload. You need to read a wider range of sources.)

Stop talking about good and bad media. Just because you don't read it doesn't make it bad. There is not any type of media that is so stupid that you can categorically dismiss it. I have found that I learned things from romance novels, People magazine, and even books that, in hindsight, were time wasters. So instead of saying, “I don't have time for xx,” talk about time like you have a grip on it. Say, “I don't have that type of media at the top of my list because of xx.” It's a great exercise to make yourself talk this way, because good time management is actually about understanding your priorities, and you cannot explain your reading choices without also explaining your priorities.

Stop talking about time like you need to save it. You just need to use it better. Look, if you wanted save all your time, and sit around and do nothing all day, then you would be gunning for a 4-hour work week. But most people actually enjoy being busily engaged in interesting things (which is why I think Tim Ferriss is a scam) so we are not so much saving time as figuring out the best use of our time.

So focus on meeting your goals rather than saving time. Information is not something you have time for or don't have time for. Information is either helping you meet your goals or not.

And anyway, maybe your real time management problem is that you are a perfectionist, you spend too much time doing research, or you work too hard on Mondays (yep, that's right, you should plan to do the most on Wednesday and Thursday).

Posted in No image, Productivity
103 comments on “How to feel like you have time to read everything
  1. Gardner says:

    I like your comment about good & bad media. Case in point, my 7 year old correctly identified an ocean abyss recently. Since he is an avid reader of nature books and loves fish and ocean subjects, I assumed he read it in a book. When I asked him where he learned about abysses, his rely was “Spongebob”. There are nuggets of knowledge everywhere, I guess.

  2. Alex @ Happiness in this World says:

    I completely agree that saying “I don’t have time for X” is utterly inaccurate. Of course, we don’t actually have 24 hours a day as we all have to sleep to restore energy–which is the real key to what we can fit into the time we spend awake. When people say they don’t have enough time, what they really mean is they don’t have enough energy, motivation, and determination. If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way to get it done. The human mind has an incredible capacity to create value when properly motivated. Thanks for a great post.

  3. jenx67 says:

    I was kind of stunned at the date on one of those posts you linked to – the four ways to make more time. 2003. You’ve been at this a long time.

    When people tell me they don’t have time to read blogs, I am immediately annoyed and dismiss them as laggards. I also think they are scaredy cats who prove they are most comfortable with an ineffective status quo. Kind of like Communist loyalists. hahahaha!

  4. Phil says:

    Yes, these are all exceptional points. Heck, I PREFER to read blogs, as I think there is more actual truth to be gleaned (amongst the detris that’s out there also) than you will ever see in the paid-off MSM.

    My first post here. You’ve got some good info. I’m going back through much of the past here. Thanks for your time and efforts to produce all this. Me, I’m just getting started!

  5. Gerty says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this post on all three points.

    I was just having a conversation just an hour ago about Twitter and how people and businesses are using it, etc. A lot of people say they do not “get” twitter but yet do not invest anytime to see what it is all about.

    At work we just added a new employee to the team and i think what sealed the deal (for me) was that she said she reads lots of blogs in her spare time.

  6. TD says:

    Very interesting post!
    A lot of ppl who tell me they have no time for blogs also tell me they spend their time watching a lot of TV. I have nothing against any media – I am sure they learn some from American Idol. But it is a lot easier to filter information online than on TV. I still love TV.

  7. Paul Anater says:

    Thank you! I have been bellowing a similar message for as long as I can remember. “I’m too busy” means “That’s not important” and it’s perfectly OK to say that. “I’m too busy” is an excuse that carries with it an martydom I find particularly tiresome. It’s also about as disempowering thought as there is. Thank you again for this post.

  8. Fifi Flower says:

    Time Management is EVERYTHING… we CAN have and DO it ALL!!! Good article!

  9. LPC says:

    Yeah. I love blogs. I loved newspapers too, but am kind of over them except the NY Times in order to breathe the intellectual air. I never loved TV.

  10. genYist says:

    This is the best explanation I’ve read of why whining about ‘information overload’ sucks. I had to quote this. It definitely makes a case for Gen Y’s working style, which is often criticized and dismissed as ineffective multi-tasking. Just because someone else is too lazy to read a blog doesn’t mean that people who take in information all the time aren’t capable of producing excellent work. I’d doubt the commitment of any employee who only relies on the newspaper or pre-screened print-outs for information.

    On that note, I need to get back to writing a creative brief/planning a new database project/reviewing meeting materials/checking Google Reader.

  11. Wade Kwon says:

    I agree on priorities. We make time for the things that are important.

    But I disagree on the ability of Gen Y (or others) on multitasking. They may be able to process all those streams at once, but my gut tells me they do it poorly: low retention, low critical thinking.

    I believe in focused learning, focused attention. Don’t believe me? Talk to your spouse or significant other sometime while they’re fiddling with their Blackberry.

    • genYist says:

      As a Y who multi-tasks throughout the day, I have to say I disagree about having ‘low retention, low critical thinking.’

      As a strategic planning analyst, my job involves strategy and critical analysis. My primary research, insights, briefs, and reports aren’t shallow or poorly-constructed. Often they go ahead without any edits or changes and provide direction for our internal teams and our largest clients. Luckily, I work in a place that encourages individual working styles as long as we produce high-quality work.

      Using someone’s wife trying to talk/Blackberry at the same time as proof that multi-tasking can’t work is a cop-out. As I said in my own blog post (linking to this one), Ys are more adept at multi-tasking because it has be a necessity throughout our lives. That also means we multi-task differently.

      I would never try to use a Blackberry and maintain a conversation with my spouse. That’s just rude. Unlike previous generations, technology etiquette was a large part of our education. I wasn’t allowed to use my Tamagotchi during class while I was in 3rd grade, so why would I try to type and talk on the phone at the same time now? Texting while someone was speaking or lecturing was banned by the time I got to high school. Face-to-face conversation or telecommunications are seldom combined with ‘screen’ technology use when Ys multi-task. It’s a matter of understanding which tasks cannot handled in a rapid sequential or simultaneous fashion. When I attend conferences, I see Gen Xers and Boomers Twittering in clear view of speakers while my fellow Ys are either more discreet or shut of their mobile devices as soon as someone arrives at the podium. Many Ys don’t bring mobile devices into meetings because we were raised to know that typing while someone is speaking to you is rude.

      So what does multi-tasking look like for me?

      Answering emails ASAP, while providing sufficient time to think about and edit down my replies (part of showing someone that you value their request for your input or assistance.)

      Reading through my RSS feed, as the most recent information and news can inform everything else I’m working on. While I still stick to printed publications and studies for in-depth reporting and data, the value of online publishing is in its speed. Most of the feeds I get contain information that is exponentially more valuable to me when it first appears as it would be a day or three later.

      Writing a creative brief, which is a zillion times easier when I’ve done so much research in advance. Thanks to my catalog of bookmarks and clippings in Evernote and constant RSS-reading, I can get right into solving a problem and thinking strategically instead of starting with more basic questions like, how does our target feel about buying x product during this economy? Thanks to my ongoing information processing/gathering, I’m already on my way, and have the 5 best articles and 3 best research reports (as of 5 minutes ago) on hand that I can re-read and reference as support for my insights. Writing the actual brief is a process that starts long before I type my first sentence, so when it comes time to actually put it all on paper it never takes longer than a couple of hours.

      Posting on my own blog is like a reward for getting things done quickly. It also helps me clarify my ideas about broader trends and how I can be a better employee.

      I just described a typical morning at my desk. Today, I’ve read 250 RSS entries, written a blog entry, written a brief, researched new ways to house information on our server to ease sharing between colleagues (an ongoing project) and archived research relevant to multiple accounts I work on for a later date. And I’m confident I’ve performed all of those tasks to the best of my ability. Advertising is highly competitive: if my work weren’t up to snuff, I’d have been let go a long time ago.

      I hope that sheds some light on the differences in how Ys multi-task, and why it can be an effective and productive work style.

      • Caitlin says:

        This might be true for you but I see a lot of Gen Y people tweeting during conference sessions. It’s not just Gen X or Baby Boomers at all (though Gen X are heavier Twitter users overall).

      • Kamal S. says:

        :Guess what? Generation Y never talks about information overload. That's because they k now how to process information better than anyone else. “

        Generation based stereotypes often have a grain of truth, but frequently fall apart on individual cases.

        I can’t tell you how many Gen Y types I personally know who do nothing more than bitch daily about information overload. And I can’t tell you how often my Gen Y ex-girlfriend used to complain about my multitasking, she focuses on one thing at a time, intensely, finishes it, and moves on to another thing… after I’ve checked my email, blogged, researched different things in 5 different firefox windows with 6 tabs open in each, and so on..

        In truth both of our styles are effective – for us. I can see the value of her approach, she deals with things in intense focused depth. We both arrive at our destinations, but her lack of multi-tasking sometimes yields better results than my intense multitasking, at other times not.

        The most adept multi-tasker I know is a 55 year old serial entrepreneur. He multi-tasks far better than I do. Lest you think he’s an exception, most of the other effective multi-taskers I know are in their late 30′s early 40′s. Of course, most of these guys are long time IT guys, things might be different for the general population.

        Generation stereotypes are really only useful in narrow ranges. I really do not buy the “Gen Y multi-tasks better than Gen X” yarn, because it flies in the face of my personal experience. I’m, of course, open to experiences that contradict this. I also don’t see multi-tasking as an absolute value. There is certainly a time for intense obsessive long term focus, and a time for diverse multi-tasking. The skill is knowing which is which, and being able to have the flexibility to switch work styles when needed. Someone lacking this flexibility is simply just a one trick pony, irrespective of their generation.

        Lastly I read blogs intensely, I follow about 50 a week. But I have the sense to realize the immense value of print materials. If I were in a hiring position and was faced with a choice between someone highly adept at navigating the blogosphere, and someone who reads multiple major newspapers and magazines, knows her way around a public library's print resources, but really wasn't into blogs, frankly depending on the nature of the candidate's duties, I would probably reluctantly choose the later. I say reluctantly because I'd rather have a candidate with the common sense to realize what can be found with ease on-line, and what needs to be winnowed out of print media. Both are highly useful, and again, mastering one and not the other makes one into a one trick pony.

  12. Gerard McLean says:

    The statement “Generation Y never talks about information overload. That's because they know how to process information better than anyone else.” is a bit of a stretch.

    More accurately, they know how to process information they perceive to be useful to them at the time. Most of the time they ignore information. But, if ignoring it is processing, ok.. then it is all about semantics

    But, to attribute mine or your statement to a generation is somewhat irresponsible anyway, so let’s not do it. I’m a Boomer and I read four newspapers cover to cove and countless blogs everyday AND manage to work, raise kids and walk dogs. I guess it is all about priorities, regardless of your generation.

  13. Ben West says:

    Nice post, Penelope. I like your frankness and candor, but I think that you are being a little naive. To assume that someone like say, Ryan Seacrest: a guy that has a million different jobs, has the same amount of time to read blogs in his day as me: a research editor sitting in front of a computer all day is not really correct.

    As part of this generation Y that you speak of, I get most of my news and information from blogs, facebook, twitter etc, but it’s up to YOU as the blogger to MAKE your blog worth my time. There are millions of blogs covering topics that I am interested in every day, so keep producing interesting and provocative work, and people will have no excuse at all not to be reading.

  14. Mark W. says:

    Thanks for a great post.
    “You need to read a wider range of sources.”
    This is so true to get the full spectrum of information, thoughts, and ideas on a subject. You don’t have to agree with certain opinions and positions based on your own life experiences but you should be aware of them.
    “And information synthesizers don't feel overwhelmed by information – €“ they either use it or they don't, but they don't whine that there's too much.”
    Information synthesizers know their goals, extract the applicable information, and make decisions based on what they’ve learned from their research. They also ask a lot of questions and ask for help when needed along the way.

  15. HB says:

    I love that this post seems to have so much energy behind it!

    I admit I go through phases of “I can’t do everything”, but this post just re-invigorated me to tackle all those things I think I don’t have time for.

    PT: this post was like instant coffee – but it tasted better.

  16. lola says:

    Loved this post – It drives me crazy when people say they don’t have time for blogs. I always wonder where they get their information. That being said, I couldn’t figure out the whole “which blog is bigger.” Marginal Revolution would have more followers, I think, but one of things I love about blogs is that they will find their specific audience, since they are interest focused. Would you unpack the whole “which blog is bigger” idea? thanks for your blog.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I spent a lot of time thinking about this comparison. And I reworded the which is bigger part a lot.

      In the end, I decided that if you think I did not ask a question with enough nuance — that there are ways to see that each of them is bigger — then you are a good information synthesizer.

      Maybe what I mean is that it’s the people who do not glean information from a quick glance that are not processing fast enough for today’s workplace.

      Penelope

  17. Mark F. says:

    Best post in a while!
    I concur on all points…Time needs to be used not saved, need to remember that…
    thx,
    M

  18. PRoe says:

    There are two books you should read (all the words – if you have time):
    1) Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free

    2) Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

    Both are available on Kindle, since I know turning pages is a poor use of time management.

  19. Bridget Brown says:

    How True! It used to be possible to fudge your way to being interesting at cocktail parties…name drop, make your job sound extra complicated, done. But now, those conversations are elevated…because there are more ideas to discuss and people can expose themselves to all kinds of information (not literally though, that can get you kicked out of the cocktail party)

    It’s no longer a case of “whoever has the most elite business card or the fanciest degree wins.” Those who relied on that kind of atmosphere to socialize and network now have to put more effort into being interesting. That takes work. Work takes time. Hence, they don’t have time to read blogs means they don’t want to do the work to be interesting, they’d prefer to deride the entire medium and hope people stop talking about what they read on a great blog

  20. MindyMom says:

    Great post! I am so with you on this. People who act like they are “above” reading blogs really piss me off. They’re just ignorant and narrow-minded as well as all the things you mentioned.

  21. Anon says:

    For the most part I agree with you. We make time for what’s important to us – it’s about priorities, not how many hours are in a day.

    I think the idea that “gen Y” (whatever the hell that means outside of the world of marketing) manages their media better than others is unmitigated bullshit though. The average blogger age is 37.6, which puts them pretty firmly in gen X.

  22. Holly says:

    Great post. I especially liked your link to the “no such thing as too busy” post. I hate when people use busy as the excuse for everything.

    I like that you write directly, give examples to support your statement, and then give suggestions on how to do/say/act on it, such as this:
    “So instead of saying, "I don't have time for xx," talk about time like you have a grip on it. Say, "I don't have that type of media at the top of my list because of xx."

  23. Nike Lebron VI says:

    It’s no longer a case of “whoever has the most elite business card or the fanciest degree wins.”

  24. ioana says:

    Time, in a day, is finite.

    Twitter is not a source of information. It only skims the surface.

    Fast readers usually have scramble eggs for brains.

    • Caitlin says:

      Iona, you’re wrong. Twitter is a fantastic source of information, because those 140 characters often contain links to other things. Twitter is still the original source of the information for me as a user – I would not otherwise see many of the things I read via Twitter.

  25. Dan Erwin says:

    Thank you for a brilliant and highly accurate article. My riposte has always been to the effect that people have the time to do the things they want to do. That’s telling, but I suspect it’s true 95% of the time. Oh yeah, I read what I want to read and always make time to do it. Admittedly, I am a bibliophile, but it goes a long way toward keeping a person vital.

  26. KateNonymous says:

    Well, the truth is that there isn’t time to read everything. We can’t have it all. We can’t do it all.

    But we can read some of everything. We can pick which parts of “all” matter to us and prioritize them, which means that we can have and do everything that is most important to us (except that we can’t, always, and any number of personal tragedies could serve as examples).

    If someone says they don’t have time to read blogs, well, that’s absurd. A blog is about the quickest thing to read that they’re going to find. It’s not about time, it’s about choices. And they can make that choice.

    The part where time comes in is this: taking the time to figure out which blogs are worth reading, for their personal needs. But that’s true of any medium–which books are worth reading? Which movies are worth seeing? People are just more accustomed to making those determinations, because they’ve already been making them for a long time.

    • really, not enough time says:

      I agree with you KateNonymous. There is NOT enough time to do everything. We can’t have it all. We have to choose priorities. When we accept that, we are much better at what we choose to do.

      That said, I HATE it when people whine about how busy they are (even when it doesn’t relate to reading blogs). They feel everyone should accommodate them, because, oh, they are SOOOO busy! Oh, cry me a river.

      Usually the people who whine the most are the ones who actually are doing the least.

      Conversely, I have to admit sometimes I AM too busy to read blogs, especially PT. Sure, it only takes a few mintues to read. But then there are all the comments, to which, of course, I have to reply. And then I’ve got to come back time and again to see if anyone has replied to my comment. Pretty soon I’ve spent 1/3 of my morning reading a blog and half-assedly done my job.

      Sometimes, I have to tell myself I am too busy, and no, I cannot read PT today!

  27. OMG chronicles says:

    Some people like to throw the “I’m busy” line out to prove that they’re “important.” Others say that because they really aren’t all that interested in learning about it … or anything, it seems sometimes.

    Whatever a person considers important, however, is where they’ll put his/her energy.

    That said, my middle-aged brain (and memory) has made it so much harder for me!

    Still, if we only read the blogs/mags/newspapers, etc., with which we share the same opinion, we’re not going to learn very much or grow as people.

    • genYist says:

      I completely agree with your comment about maintaining a reading list with different points of view. One danger of filling an RSS feed with blogs and news outlets that only reflect our own opinions is missing out on differing perspectives.

      And as for middle-aged brain/memory, I hear ya. I have the most admiration and respect for Boomers/Xers who have adjusted to a changed model for mass communication. They are the most valuable employees of all, with their experience providing a perspective on current technologies that no amount of tech-savvy alone can match.

  28. Pritesh says:

    Another amazing article from Penelope. I am quite amazed how effectively various points have been mentioned here. We all have same number of hours. Some prefer to spend with their friends and some prefer to be with online friends using blogs and Twitter. The things matter the most are what you do and how you spend your time as long as you prioritize it. Sometimes you have to finish your target assignment and have no time to do any online activities. That's completely fine. As long as you know what matters you the most in particular time frame, you won't regret anything and you won't miss anything either.

    Cheers..
    Pritesh
    http://twitter.com/mehta1p

    • prklypr says:

      Whether your reading list is composed of blogs, books or online mags, the point is that we should be reading – a lot, and a variety of mediums and viewpoints. To those who say they don’t have time: make time. Choose to read. Watch an hour less TV; spend an hour less on facebook; read during lunch hour. An hour a day will expand your mind infinitely. And get a Kindle! Best way to read on the run – even blogs :)

  29. Marcus says:

    I’m a recent fan of your blog. I realize the effort you are putting into linking back to your past articles is working very well… on me at least. Each time I read your post, I ended up with several others to go through as well.

    Just like to thank you for the great work and useful advice you have over here! Rock on!

  30. Nicole says:

    Thaaaank you for this one, Penelope. I have been tasked with teaching execs at my day job how to tweet and use a Google Reader (for their news and -gasp!- blogs) and am so tired of hearing about how they “don’t have time” for this stuff. Everyone at work always remarks upon how quickly I get things done; maybe it’s because Gen Y can write a report, add a little graphic design to it, catch up on the latest news and fit in some tertiary reading during the time it takes most baby boomers to compose an e-mail.

    I hate to generalize, but as I go around teaching these members of the organization’s leadership team how to tweet, I’m finding that they don’t even know how to minimize screens or open new browser tabs…oy!

  31. Jessica says:

    Great article, and I totally agree. I think you gain a more well rounded opinion by checking out multiple blogs, cross checking facts and seeing the varied opinions. In my case it makes me kick ass at Jeopardy :). Whoever says they “don’t have time for blogs” is just a troglodyte…

  32. Curmudgeon says:

    I disagree with just about everything you write. That’s why I need to read you.

  33. Amy Vachon says:

    I will add that there is a lot of cultural pressure to be busy. When was the last time someone didn’t answer the question, “How are you?” with some response that included the word ‘busy’? It is heresy to say you’re not soooo busy, which I find sad – because I’d rather be happy than busy. But in our society, only losers aren’t busy – too busy to do what they claim they really want to do with their own time. We all have only one life (I think)….

    • genYist says:

      I completely agree with this. I think part of the problem is that lots of organizations aren’t rewarding efficiency. Taking a break is frowned upon. Even when effective multi-tasking or time management leads a worker to produce great results in half the time, they’re expected to keep on going for the sake of looking as busy as the worker next to them who’s working at a slower pace. The difference is that the more productive worker needs breaks to prevent burnout. If I were an employer, I’d let anyone who finished their tasks leave early as long as they produced excellent work and didn’t have a good reason to stay at their desk.

  34. Chris says:

    Putting a parenting slant on this topic: I have this theory that starting with gen Y, but even more so with my kids (ages 7 & 8), we are undergoing an evolutionary sea change. For millions of years, humans had to soak up all of the information around them in order to thrive. However my kids need to do just the opposite. They will need to be able to drive down Lincoln Blvd with video billboards, a phone, a GPS, an MP3 player and a cup of coffee and somehow figure out how to get where they’re going.

    They have to not only read blogs, but figure out which ones they should read.

    Humans need to become filters not sponges.

    • genYist says:

      Right on! I can’t wait to see what the next generation (Gen Z?) can do. I already see a difference between myself and my peers who were born a few years after I was. I’m 23, but I only got at-home internet access in sixth grade. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be 3 or 4 with a circa-98 PC or iMac at home.

  35. Jess says:

    I have no time to read anything because I’m too busy reading everything you link in your posts! Kidding, but only kind of.

    This was a truly great post. My mom is a teacher and noticed the change in how Generation Y processes information when we hit her elementary school classes. She says our brains just work differently. As you said, it is no longer about having the most information, it is about being able to synthesize the relevant parts and get out from under the rest.

    I’d work for you any day, because clearly you get it.

  36. GInger Rose says:

    Generation Y doesn’t talk about information overload because their brains are fried. Still waiting for the connection between consuming vast quantities of shallow data nuggets and actual intelligence.

  37. Dave says:

    I’m not sure what your problem is with the “I’m busy” line, but in my case, it is polite code for “that’s not much of a priority for me”. I have two primary and competing functions in my current position. I tell people that Task A takes up about 75% of my time, while Task B takes up another 75%, leaving whatever is left over for everything else. Quite frankly, I’m surprised I still find the time to read this blog. You have, at times, very cogent and interesting thoughts – the rest of the time is a soap opera – Desperate Housewife & CEO of Podunk, MI (or where ever it is you are – Madison I think?) As far as prioritizing goes, I’m quickly finding that I have to skim your posts to figure out if they are going to be worthwhile, or if they are another story about farmers, money woes, blowjobs, or your generally crazy life. If the current trend continues, at some point I will have to decide I’m too busy to do this filtering and give up on you entirely. That’d be a shame.

    • Jack says:

      Dave, I sort of agree with you, though you have to commend Penelope for writing one post without referencing her

      a. oral sex life
      b. cash crunch
      c. guilt about her kids
      d. other miscellaneous [b]non-career [/b]issues

      That said, most people who read blogs (and who take out time to read blogs) are going to agree with everything that is written here. After all, it praises people who spend time on blogs. Come on people, reading blogs can’t be the most productive use of your time, if you read them for more than 20-30 minutes a day!

      Therefore, there are very few readers here who will disagree with the post in general or bring in a conflicting opinion, like you have. But I cannot imagine a person working 16 hours a day, and just about squeezing in time for a workout and a social life, choosing to read blogs over reading a good book (and there are many).

      Especially, this entertainment chutzpah blog masquerading as career advice.

    • Chris says:

      Her posts are more likely to be about cunnilingus than blowjobs. But anyway. The things you say detract from the worthiness of her blog are the same things that make her fun to read, for me, and I think she maintains a good ratio between personal melodrama and interesting advice. I’d think it likely that a lot of her readership agrees.

      Of course you are entitled to your opinion, I’m just voicing the counterpoint because I would hate for her to lend too much weight to your own and make some sort of change.

      • Jack says:

        When I first hit upon this blog, I liked it so much that I recommended it to many younger kids I mentored. Over the past 6 months I’ve seen it deteriorate from a career-centric blog, to an ‘I, me, myself’ blog. That may be good trivial entertainment, but it is certainly not the great career advice that many of us had started here with.

  38. Jo says:

    This is a great post and very close to my values. Time is to be used and valued according to your priorities. You can make a lot of excuses (and I’ve done that many times until I learnt not to) but at the end of the day it boils down to what’s profoundly important to you.

    I’m a recent subscriber to your blog (from Cornwall in England) and don’t always understand all your your references but I do appreciate where you’re coming from.

    Thanks for such a great post.

  39. Lesley says:

    OMG, Bless you my child for saying this. If I had a dollar for everytime I hear somebody at my job say this, I would be a millionaire many times over. You make time for the things you think are important. It doesn’t take a million hours to read a few blogs in your feed reader. Perhaps if you didn’t spend 5 hours at your desk everyday arranging a powerpoint in 50 different ways, checking your email repeatedly, or cleaning out your computer folders you would have time for some important crap.

    I give this post my blessing! :)

  40. Dave says:

    Jack (and Penelope) – this posting counts as one of the good ones, even if I do have some disagreements with it. My biggest problem with this is, what’s wrong with saying “I’m too busy for that”? It is a matter of prioritizing, and some tasks just don’t make it to the top of the list. PT herself recently wrote: “I call the house manager, who has written "pay electric bill" on a post-it maybe ten days in a row, and I tell her the lights are off.” So, for 10 days in April she was too busy doing other things to pay the electric bill. It doesn’t take me long to pay my electric bill – just connect to my credit union’s site, bring up the online bill payer, scroll down the list of payees and enter the amount and payment date – done in under a minute. Me, I’ll pay that bill before I go read a blog, but then again, maybe that’s why I’m no CEO…

    • Jack says:

      If I had to specific, I think my problem is that the argument here is that – “if someone says s/he is too busy to read blogs, then s/he is a moron, since s/he does not appreciate diverse sources of information”.

      Instead of whitewashing such a person, it is better to understand such a person’s story – maybe he is really busy. Maybe he works 16 hours a day as a medical student interning at a hospital (who can’t sneak in a blog post between two sick patients); maybe he has sick children to take care of apart from a full-time job.

      Saying that every person who is too busy to read a blog is a moron is pretty close to Dubya saying that every person who is not with US, is against US. Look at where that has got us now.

      There are shades of gray. It is immature to paint everything in black and white.

      • Chris says:

        Any time that you say something that appears to be all-encompassing, I think that there is an understanding among most intelligent people that there are likely to be extreme cases which are exceptions to whatever it is you’re saying, but that they constitute such a minority that they are not worth talking about in light of the point you are trying to make. Pointing out the fact that these exceptional cases exist is sort of unproductive, and, as you say, immature.

  41. Tom says:

    I am both in agreement with and annoyed by this post today. I do find that people who backhandedly dismiss blogs are pretty much pointless to deal with. The same with those who dismiss Twitter without ever having even seen it, assuming it’s only people “talking about what they ate for lunch.” (I was shocked in a meeting recently to listen to a group of my coworkers, nearly all younger than me (I am 36,) talking about Twitter like this – of them, only one had anything positive to say about Twitter.)

    That said, I find that GenY is over generalized as so productive and good at multitasking. If anything, I find many of them particularly difficult to get anything of substance out of, probably because, being so multitask-oriented, they don’t really know how to do one thing really, really well, but do many things with passing abilities.

    Not to mention that I think this is a generation that is going to find itself crashing, hard, in a few years time, when they burn out from overextending themselves. Maybe us “older” people are slower and less able to multitask, but we know our limits much better. I know how to rest. You know why I want to “save time”? So I can rest! I don’t want to use my time more effectively so I can get more done, I want to use my time effectively so I can NOT DO MORE. That is the difference between me and GenY. I think anyone that looks for more ways to fit in more work is crazy, plain and simple. Not to get philosophical, but your one life here is not meant to be spent doing business-related tasks. Try and actually enjoy life.

  42. Ron Boyd says:

    “Decide what your priorities are and how much time you’ll spend on them. If you don’t someone else will.”
    -Harvey Mackay-

  43. Brett Hummel says:

    I was wondering if you think there is a limit to our processing ability (even among Gen Y)? The internet is growing exponentially, and while Gen Y can manage the content more efficiently than older generations, Millennials cannot read much faster than 600-1000 words per minute.

    Therefore as the amount of content on the web increases, so too would our desire to read more content because while the percentage of interesting content would stay the same, the total volume of interesting content would have grown. As the web continues to develop we will still only be able to read the content at the same rate, meaning that at some point we must run into some sort of limit or information overload.

    Another question I wonder about is: do you think that Gen Y’s ability to prevent overload by skimming over articles, posts, and subjects prevents them from delving deep enough to truly understand a particular subject?

    I think this is an incredibly interesting issue, and I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts.

  44. Susan says:

    I moved to the mountains of Central America to get away from the multi-tasking mentality and the glorification of being over-extended. It’s not a good thing. Everything is touched on lightly and not explored in depth. I feel pressured to promote via twitter etc. etc. but what is really important, especially in sectors like communications or hospitality, is making a real connection. Are we sacrificing this for quantity over quality? Do we want to continue doing this???

  45. John says:

    “So focus on meeting your goals rather than saving time. Information is not something you have time for or don't have time for. Information is either helping you meet your goals or not.”
    Absolutely! “I don’t have time to…” is the preamble to self limitation either through disorganized thinking or..as you point out, perhaps perfectionism, which is just another way of saying “to scared to step up and step out”.

  46. Caitlin says:

    You make some good points… though I have to say I really dig those long articles in The Atlantic. It’s a fantastic magazine – though it’s a real a shame it dropped its short stories.

    I don’t get why you lionise Generation Y all the time though. I don’t really think they are genuinely more talented and wonderful than the rest of us. They’re just people, for better or worse.

  47. frank says:

    It really all comes down to peoples prioroties. Simple.

    I enjoyed the piece.

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  48. Chris says:

    I agree, I’ve always thought that the time excuse, about anything, was just a polite or ignorant way of saying, “Sorry, but x just wasn’t high enough on my list of priorities, for whatever reason.”

    But I’m a Gen Y who was able to come to a quick conclusion on your little test: the wrong conclusion.

    Also, I don’t know that I agree on the good and bad media idea. I think it would be stupid to argue with the idea that there is something to be learned from all types of media, and I totally think that you can learn some really important eureka-type lessons that you wouldn’t otherwise get by being exposed to “bad” media, but I also think that there are a lot of instances where bad media is often personally stultifying in some respects, due to the other lessons you quietly pick up during the course of your exposure. At least, in my personal experience.

  49. Jackie says:

    Interesting article! I so agree with all you’ve said. I was at a party last Friday and 2 people at different times actually said “I don’t have time for that.” (one was Facebook and one was Twitter). And I wanted to correct them both that it’s not a matter of having time, but a matter of making choices and setting priorities.

    In the same vein, I have a friend who longs to go to England, but doesn’t save or plan, just complains that she can’t go. Now, she says, it’s the economy. I pointed out that now is actually a good time to go with low cost incentives and a stronger dollar. But, she argues, she doesn’t have money saved to go. Ah, that is a different story. Then the economy really isn’t a factor, is it?

  50. Gerard McLean says:

    @Jack @Chris One of the hallmarks of the GenY generation is its members appear to state opinions in the hyperbole. “I totally agree” “completely agree” “incredibly interesting” “totally” this and that… which leaves little room for nuance and argument. I find it (totally) ironic and (totally) fascinating that the generation that grew up with the widest array of choices in everything from ice cream to soda states opinion and “fact” as an extreme of one view or the other. (with the exception of a political party, of course.. Dem or GOP, no middle ground!)

    It is no shock that Penelope makes statements in the absolute regarding GenY. Either she is doing it to incite comments — which makes her smart or she has become so immersed in the GenY culture that she simply can’t help herself, which makes her an idiot.

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