Technology was supposed to free us from the burden of time. It hasn’t quite worked out like that. Let’s talk about technology and time.

Convener(s): Annie Rigby 

Participants: Shelley Silas, Dan Willis, Kathryn Stewart, Anna Coombs, Sophie Trott, Jake Orr, Sian Rees, Edward Lewis, Jon Pashley, Clara Giraud, Solene Marie, Shipra Ogra, Alice Hoult, Jen Tan, Lian Bell, Matt Trueman & others


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

My washing machine takes me about 7 minutes of time to use. It saves me, perhaps, about 2 hours – the time it would take to wash my clothes by hand. BUT I fill this saved time with more work. What if I made a deal with one of my time-saving appliances, and promised to use the time it gives me for leisure?


ACTION: I invite you to make a deal with one of your time-saving appliances to use the time it saves you for your own leisure. Please tell me the story of what happens.

You can send me these stories at [email protected] or @unfoldingtheatr


Coming up with the idea for this invitation was the last thing that happened at the session. Here’s some of the things we talked about along the way.

People are afraid of empty time. It’s more comforting to smoke / check messages on our phones…

What are we scared of? Feeling exposed? Confronting our own mortality? Being alone? Not being in control?

It’s really good for us to have empty time.

We should take Open Space into our own lives. Remember the principles. The law of two feet.

We read more digitally now. Books and paper are nice things.

A lot of us feel addicted to email, Twitter, Facebook.

The speed of communication now gives us less space to think.

Theatre and live events create empty space for people.

When we used to get photos printed and had to wait for them, it was a surprise when the images arrived. And we looked at them.

We’re rarely properly present and committed to what’s around us.

Not having time for yourself means you haven’t got time to know who you are.

Getting information is easy. So do we value it less? Do we remember the things we look up on Google?

Twitter has democratised our professional relationships. We can start conversations that lead to things happening.

Technology forms communities but it also separates us from our geographical communities.

There is a pressure to be visible.

Tactics to reclaim our relationship with time and how we communicate:

  • Napkins you can wrap your phone in that block the signal – they say “I’m dedicating this time for me”
  • Setting times where we check our messages
  • Waiting 24 hours before we respond to anything – training other people’s expectations of us
  • Have a conversation with the people you work with about their expectations about how fast / often you respond. Their expectations might not be as onerous as your expectations of yourself.

Responding is perhaps easier than initiating – is this why we dither with our messages rather than getting on with our ideas.

We resent that technology sets our relationship with time. We feel like we have to respond to everything as quickly as possible. We don’t. We can set our own pace.

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