When did life become so chaotic? Every day we are bombarded from every direction with ads, popups, notifications, calls, texts, emails, etc. Let’s not forget snail mail which also never stops.
Jobs, spouses, children, pets, family, friends, teams, groups, clubs, organizations. Everyone and everything is competing for our time. Every. Single. Day. The competition for our time takes its toll on us. Anxiety and depression are on the rise (or maybe just more people are comfortable admitting they are suffering than in the past?).
You read that right. We have an attention span of about 8 seconds. I can see that. I believe the competition for our time plays a big role in our low attention spans. I’ll give you a personal example. I am passionate about learning and improving. I will go through articles, tutorials, and videos daily in my quest for knowledge. How do I have time for all of that? I don’t actually read all of the words. I don’t skim on purpose. I get bored. I look for headings, bold text, bullet lists, or anything that stands out. It catches my eye and I read that section. If it is very interesting I may continue or something else may catch my eye and I scroll down. I do walk away with good information, but I probably miss some information too. I just have this internal “you’ve got to keep moving” ticking away inside me. You can do a search and find some articles on the subject from more qualified people than I. Even just writing this paragraph I am looking at how long it is getting and I wonder “have I lost the reader already?”. It’s true. If an article looks more like a research paper than a summary or outline, people get turned off. There are always exceptions of course; we are not all the same.
Where are you going with this Meir?
Good question. During my years of experience in non-profit organizations and their communities I have witnessed two great struggles: Attendance and Involvement. Attendance is simply the act of showing up to consume what is offered. This could be listening to a talk, enjoying a picnic, etc. Involvement is volunteering your time to be a worker bee or leader in the organization. Attendance and leadership are two different ways to be part of a community, but both have the same problem: competing for our time!
Being involved in a non-profit is no easy task, especially when all of your colleagues and helpers are volunteers. We can go through tremendous efforts behind the scenes to put on an event for a community only to be met with a low attendance turnout. It’s frustrating and disheartening, but we can’t lose hope.
Time is a limited and precious gift. The key to getting a slice of the time pie is going to come down to marketing and personal connections.
- Methods of communication – are they being reached in a manner where you will be heard and not ignored?
- Appeal of the content – will you get their attention for more than 8 seconds?
- Time commitment – do they have the necessary time to fit this in their schedule?
- Genuine interest – if they do have the time, is this something they would even want to be a part of?
All of these questions play a factor in the competition for time, and the best way you can find out the answers is to make a personal connection. Don’t rely on email or texts. Get out there in person (or on a phone call during this pandemic). Get to know people and help them get to know you, otherwise you will be discarded as spam.