Technology Time-Thieves

Do you reach the end of the week and wonder where the time went? Do you open your emails or log on to Facebook to do a quick check and find that you are still there an hour later?

I have noticed a real trend when I log onto Facebook. So many people seem to be caught up in the world of fantasy games. Often their status will reflect a seemingly excessive amount of time spent managing a fantasy farm or playing other online games.

I’m sure many of them then later wonder where the time went and why they haven’t got anything productive done or, even worse, why their relationship with their spouse or family has become marked by distance and tension. In fact it has become a real time thief for many.

Emails can be another time stealer. In his book “Shrinking The World – The 4,000-year story of how email came to rule our lives” by John Freeman, he notes the first email was sent 40 years ago. By 2011 there will be 3.2 billion users with billions of emails being sent each day. He argues that email’s “so-called boon to communication and productivity has become a distracting, privacy-sapping, alienating, addicting time-suck.” While I don’t necessarily agree fully with him I do agree it can become a huge time thief. There is a rising pull and even addiction to let technology rule our lives and to constantly check Facebook or check the emails. Instead of it being a controlled urge, in many lives it has become an out of control compulsion. How do I know? Because I have struggled with it – the urgency to check the email screen as soon as the sound notifies me of a new one, check it again, then check it yet again until I have checked it many times in a day.

As with everything, technology has pros and cons and it is up to us to be the master of it and not let it become the master of us. Technology is a wonderful gift but it can also become a time thief and a demanding master. The use of our time unfortunately does often tell us where our treasure and our heart is (Matt 6:21). Let’s take back our time from the time-thief and invest it wisely.

Many of us struggle with finding time to spend with the Lord, yet we spend hours a week on our computers on social networking sites or checking emails. We find it hard to make time to read the Word and allow time for His “rhema” word to be released to us. We rush in and out of the Lord’s presence and find our relationship with Him has become like a diet of quick snacks snatched as we run from one urgent thing to another. It’s interesting that often we then get to Sunday and wonder why we don’t feel a great presence of the Lord around our lives during worship. Maybe that could be because we haven’t taken time to cultivate a lifestyle of worship and honouring God during the week.

Worship is not found just in the words we sing on a Sunday. In fact most of our lifestyle of worship is non-vocal and is instead found in our attitudes, actions and responses to the Lord during our day-to-day life. If we don’t honour Him during the week with our unhurried time and concentration we cannot expect to turn up on a Sunday and suddenly go into the deep places of wonder, mystery and His love.

For many of us the time pressures of day-to-day life are all too real leaving us tired and stressed. We all need to take time out to relax and unwind but the problems come when that time becomes an escape from reality.

So what are some practical steps we can take to reclaim our time? Limit checking your emails to a couple of times a day. Try turning off the notification sound that tells when a new email has come so you are not tempted to open it up right there and then to check it. Give yourself time limits to spend on Facebook and other such sites and stick to them. Let the farm go to seed, walk away from it, nothing bad will happen if you do – it is not real after all. Turn your computer off after using it; put your computer away if it’s a laptop, don’t leave it laying around. Make it harder for yourself to use it; and you will find the trouble it takes to turn it on will be a definite deterrent to you.

Instead of reaching for your computer, play a game with your kids, sit down and talk to your wife, ring a friend. Don’t just chat to them online pick up the phone and have a real conversation. Pick up your Bible instead of your computer and spend some time reading that instead of your latest nonsense email. Be disciplined – delete the emails that are a time waster. Don’t give in to the pressure to pass useless nonsense emails on to your friends – you are just passing on the problem.

There are many demands on our time in the world we live in and while many of them claim urgency so few of them are in fact of real importance. Let’s look again at how we spend our time and invest it wisely. ‘Spend’ and ‘invest’ are actually key words here. Will we frivolously spend our precious time or invest it wisely. There are three things that will be eternal – God, His Word and people. Let’s wisely invest the majority of our time into those. The rewards, if we do, will be infinitely greater than a fantasy harvest on a non-existent farm.