Posts Tagged ‘working lives’

I‘ve read a rash of articles in the press recently advising us how to cope with a busy work/life balance – “How to keep a busy life organised;” “Are we too busy to enjoy life” – that kind of thing and it got me thinking. Why are we suddenly all so busy? What are we busy with? Are we busier now than we used to be? Or are we just less efficient at it? Do we regard whatever it is that makes us ‘busy’ a chore and by taking this view point are we then making whatever it is that we are busy at take longer therefore making us believe we are living manically hectic lives?

It’s a vicious circle, isn’t it?

And why are we all suddenly so bad at coping when everything these days is geared towards making life easier?

Supermarkets are open every day thereby obviating the need to plan a weekly shop – so we can be less efficient with our food shopping knowing that if we’ve forgotten anything, we can just nip out at any time of the day or night and pick it up.

Our homes are filled with every labour saving device known to man, our cars can virtually park themselves as well as let us know when a service is due – the need for forward thinking is redundant.


This was exactly the model of machine I used, back in the day. Photo courtesy of the Typewriter Museum

Take publicity, for instance. I’ve been helping Son with a bit of book promotion this week. I sent a few emails – or rather, I sent the same email to a long list of potential customers or addresses where a little extra exposure may be forthcoming. It’s all so easy; took no time at all – I could hardly admit to being busy, especially as I was cooking a casserole at the same time – and I thought back to my old days working in PR, before the advent of the internet, and how long the process was then to send out one press release.


Photographs would be selected, text would be written, approved and then typed up on an old manual typewriter (even when I left, in 1990, I had only just taken delivery of an electric golf-ball machine); a catchy title would be dreamed up and some poor soul would spend hours perfecting a heading using sheets of Letraset with strips of sticky tape on stand-by to eradicate quickly any mistakes. It was painstaking.

Picture from Wikipedia

Sheets of Letraset. Picture from Wikipedia

Once the copy sheet was completed it had to be sent to a printer because the only photocopiers in use in those days were the ones that employed a continuous roll of unpleasant shiny grey paper, something called toner and powdered black ink, which would end up all over your business clothes if you were unfortunate enough to be the one who discovered that it needed topping up.

The printed copies would arrive back usually within a day and then the photos would be pasted to the text before stuffing the whole thing into a hard-backed envelope for posting on a Friday afternoon, ready for the editor’s desk on a Monday morning. It took ages – but we were busy.

So now, with all these wonderful software packages on our computers, a myriad of fonts (I prefer to refer to them as typeface – I was always under the impression that a font was where the printers stored their ink) and the ability to change colours and presentations at the touch of a keypad, life is so simple – everything is so quick.

Productivity, I hear you suggest. We can pump out more and more STUFF. Well, yes, we can, and perhaps that is what happens these days but is MORE necessarily better? Considering the country has been in the worst recession experienced for decades, being ‘busy’ hasn’t really helped, has it?

To find your old typewriter, visit the Typewriter Museum website for a nostalgic tour of old office machinery: 

Ah, yes, those were the days.



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