The Assault On Anywhen

hear no evil **UPDATE: This isn’t CLIENT communications. This is friends and colleagues.** I’m frustrated. I just spent about 20 hours without connection to the web. No email. No Twitter. No blog comments. No nothing. The technical reason was that my flight was seriously delayed, then held in the air, and then when I got to the UK (where I write this), I learned that neither of my phones is GSM-enabled, so I’m without communications technology.

But none of that is why I’m frustrated.

I have SEVERAL emails from people complaining that they didn’t hear back from me. In most of them, it was within 24 hours of the original mail. In other times, I hadn’t been in touch and it was okay that they nudge me. But the ones from within 24 hours. Seriously?

This Has to Stop

None of us are performing surgery (unless you are). You’re not calling me for the antidote to a poison. We MUST police ourselves about our sense of urgency. What happens, and I can be guilty, is that when WE need something, we push for it, not really taking into consideration the other side of the equation. So instead of just ticking something off our list, we come off as insistent and insensitive to other people’s situations.

How I Am Going to React

I’m saying no. I’m going to say no to a BOATLOAD of things I’ve originally said yes to, simply because I’m very frustrated. I can appreciate your need to get things done. I can appreciate your wanting to include me. But I can’t be held to a 24 hour clock.

We’re Ruining Anywhen

Anywhen: the problem the Internet solved. I’m blogging this at 4:38AM eastern time. It’s 9:38AM UK time. You can read this anyWHEN. See the beauty of it?

(AnyWHERE is what telephones solve. Get it?)

But when we have everyone held to urgency and time locks, we’ve ruined Anywhen. And I am a citizen of that world. I am an Internet person who is being pushed to constrained time, and I think I’m done.

(Mind you, I’m severely jet-lagged, had a really really bad day of travel, and haven’t had access to the net for a while, so I’m also a bit over-reactive.)

But please, can we please lose our addiction to urgency? Because I’m in a serious mood to defend AnyWHEN vigorously.

Photo credit Cl@re Bear

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  • http://dragonsearchmarketing.com/ Ric Dragon

    Success is not having to check email for a whole week. One of these days!

  • Robin Bridson

    Well said! Your articles are great and I keep passing them on!

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  • http://www.brainsarefun.com/ Rory D

    Hello Chris — Thoreau said “Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity.” I am a big fan of Thoreau’s and am doing my little bit to adopt Tim Ferris’s 4-hour workweek, but much more simply than Tim. For years I have been increasingly cutting back and focusing on two things, work and time with my family (at home). I don’t drive much, rarely fly, and don’t really go on vacations. I work and simplify. And still I have a hard time relaxing. This is all a very serious challenge, one I look forward to summarizing in my new 120 page missive “Hard Labor.” It’s hard, isn’t it.

  • Karin

    I just came home from a much needed weekend in seclusion and away from everything “plugged-in” with my husband. How refreshing it is to then read this blog, which completely articulated the “bang my head on the wall” urges I’ve had since I started trying to catch up this morning. In so many ways we have lost our manners as they pertain to urgency, and I am also going to learn to politely say no.

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  • Anonymous

    another addict to internet blog uncomfortably agrees to this article, understanding the vague sense of uregncy that we impose upon us…., to stayconnected 24/7..

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    I got athlete's foot from your shoes. Is that why you're resortig to spamming comments?

  • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

    URGENT! Please read my comment and reply.

    ;-)

    ~joe

  • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

    Realistically though, when ever someone has a so-called “urgent” concern I ask two qualifying questions:

    – Is anyone hurt or is this an emergency?
    – Who is impacted and to what extent?

    Knowing these details sets the precedence for the situation and usually when people answer this question, the sense of panic decreases. Only you can determine what’s “urgent” in your book versus “important.”

    ~joe

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  • Anonymous

    It it sad that we live in such a “microwave” society and unfortunately when we receive great information from people (like yourself), we expect the responses to be on time and never late. However, this is irrational thinking–.

    Now, if certain people want things at a certain time, I concur with Christopher Penn, place a nice price tag on your time and watch how long their “urgent” tendencies last.

    It is time for us to stop thinking about “I” and “Our”
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  • http://www.looble.com/ deceth

    I agree. My point is exactly what you say – you can loose a race once in a while, but still be the overall champion.

    My other point is that you won't be the overall champion if you slow down.

    And I do think that is the point. If you slow down too much in providing whatever service you provide, your competition will have an opportunity to steal your minions.

    In this case, Chris couldn't respond in 24 hours for good reason. He lost this one race. Yes, people should chill. Overall Chris is champion because he has a tendency to respond quick. It's one thing that sets him apart, which has rocketed him to the top.

    If from now on he slows down and always take 48 hours to respond to messages, he won't remain champion. Those messages will go to someone else. A new overlord will replace him.

    And so I lurk.

  • http://www.netballmatch.com/ Alison Bannister

    I agree with what you're saying but stupid question – what is the difference between anyWHEN and anytime?

  • http://uptownuncorked.com geechee_girl

    As a fellow vigorous defender of anyWhen and anyWhere, I love it. And I love @cspenn's contact email, and am seriously considering stealing his idea… ;)

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    The fair lady Anywhen is among the most beautiful throughout the land and deserves all the protection that we can afford. Seriously, the biggest problem technology has created is the erosion of patience.

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