My long time friend and colleague in the National Speakers Association, Jeff Davidson, is author of the new book, Simpler Living: A Back to Basics Guide to Cleaning, Furnishing, Storing, Decluttering, Streamlining, Organizing, and More. Jeff, who holds the registered trademark for “The Work Life Balance Expert,” has been studying the phenomenon of increasing stress and time pressure on individuals since 1988. Back then, he was researching for his book Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society. This brief interview will introduce you to Jeff and his interesting new book.
Q: Is the world getting more complex or is that simply a perception?
A: Complexity is accelerating. Signs are all around us. People constantly checking their mobile devices. People battling to stay on top of the dozens of emails that can come in on a moment’s notice. All around us, information and communication seem to be tugging for our attention at every turn. In the office, the tasks mount up.
Q: Is life at home as difficult as life at work?
A: Most people today face more clutter and disorganization at home than at work. Through my research and a series of calculations, I was able to determine that in 1988, in a 24-hour period, more information became newly available on Earth than a person could ingest at normal reading and viewing speed in the next 80 years. The next day, the phenomenon would repeat itself. In other words, in 1988, more than a lifetime’s worth of information became newly available every 24 hours.
Q: So you’d say it’s worse today by a long shot?
A: Yes. Today, with high-speed Internet connections, Global Positioning Satellite systems, and the myriad of ways by which we can all gather information, more information becomes newly available in less than one second than a person could comfortably ingest in the next 80 years. Said another way, every second, a lifetime’s worth of new information becomes available.
This is not hard to fathom when you count up all of the TV broadcasts around the world, radio broadcasts, information added to Web sites, magazines, newspapers, zines, e-blasts, listservs, newsletters, special bulletins, and what have you, that becomes newly available each second. As such, the term “information explosion,” coined many years ago, no longer adequately describes what any of us face on a given day. There are no words that can capture the essence of how much information rains down upon each of us, all the time, without end.
Q: What does Simpler Living offer that others in the field do not?
A: The book is one of a kind. It is presented in landscape format, as opposed to portrait; in other words, it lays out as a coffee table book, and it appears as a coffee table book. It is 452 pages, but easy to get through because of the two to three pictures per page, totaling more than 1,000! Although the text contains more than 130,000 words, you don’t want to sit down and read it like you would any other book. Rather, I advise flipping through to just a few pages at a time to gain some quick ideas for areas of your life where you may be in need of simplicity.
The first three chapters of the book offer a walk-through of how society became so complex, along with some antidotes as to keeping your own life simpler. Chapters 4 through 24 represent something not offered in any other book: A room-by-room review of numerous ideas as to what one can do to simplify every part of the household. After finishing all the possible rooms that one might have in a home, Simpler Living then focuses on areas such as health, diet, and nutrition; commuting, travel, and leisure; and managing a home office or traditional office.
Q: Any parting observations?
A: The world is not about to slow down and accommodate any of us. If anything, the pace of life seemingly will increase in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. It’s important for us to establish a framework now for taking back control of our personal environments, so that as we proceed into this brave new world of ever-increasing information and communication reception, we will have the capacity to maintain control. The very good news is that virtually every working adult can do this. By applying simple measures here and there, and recognizing the larger picture of what’s going on around the globe, we can avoid falling into the abyss of hopeless complexity in our lives.”