Far from making our lives easier, technology and gadgetry seem to have made us more time poor.
I can’t do a supermarket shop without a list – OK I’m exaggerating, obviously I wouldn’t die of starvation, but I would be twitchy about forgetting that vital ingredient whose absence would ruin an otherwise perfect meal. Christmas, of course, is completely impossible without several lists.
The lists I really enjoy writing are the ‘to do’ lists for my house. They help order my mind and, even more importantly, order the order that I do things. There’s no point in getting the new flooring delivered if you haven’t bought the paint to decorate the room first. And you want the plumber and electrician to have finished making a mess before the decorating starts. Interior designers, amongst others, call this a schedule of works – and it certainly works for me.
But I will write a short to do list just to cover the weekend. It aids my memory, of course, but there is also nothing more satisfying than putting a strong, decisive line through something achieved on the list. An inveterate list maker known to me has owned up to writing things on the list that she has already done, just so that she can cross them off.
Mind you, a friend told me the other day that the lady opposite her in the train carriage who was on number 19 of a ‘To do’ list would probably profit from forgetting the list and actually getting on with doing a couple of the things on it! And then this blog from Daphne Day-Grant popped into my inbox. Which reminded me of a maxim a former boss of mine (who long ago headed for the hills to live the good life) worked to when his inbox grew to giant proportions: How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time, of course.
The issue is that we are all so time poor nowadays. All the technology and gadgets at our fingertips, rather than increasing our leisure time, seem to have made it even rarer. The Canal & River Trust carried out a survey recently in which more than two thirds of adults felt they had less quality time with their friends and family than their parents did.
And so our campaign for real time was born. Those of us lucky enough to have experienced boating, or even a walk along a canal towpath, are aware of the restorative powers of our waterways. I even blogged about how a few moments down by the Grand Union Canal lifted my sombre mood one Monday morning.
We're encouraging people to discover that canals and rivers provide the perfect antidote to the stresses and pressures of modern life. So, now that summer is well and truly settling in, we’ve put together a list of waterway days out to enjoy. I’m hoping to cross a few of those off the list myself.
Liz Waddington is editor of The Source, the Canal & River Trust’s monthly staff newspaper. She has been in love with canals and their industrial heritage since her first holiday on the Grand Union Canal when she was 10 years old. Liz likes nothing more than getting out and meeting her colleagues on the cut.See more blogs from this author