Got 5 Minutes? Chew On 5 Fashionably-Punctual Deaf Time Management Ideas

Posted by: Staff Writer on May 14, 2013

You've got a vibrating alarm clock that rocks your pillow daily like a 4.6 Richter earthquake, and faithful Siri always reminds you to get your tired butt to Ashtanga yoga class at 5 P.M. sharp. So why do you feel like there's no time to get stuff done? 

Deaf or hearing, we all have one thing in common: Only 24 hours a day, and not a nanosecond more or less. Ever noticed that as you get older, time starts to feel like a rapidly thinning roll of toilet paper? That's why we owe it to ourselves to study the art of time management. 

Last summer, we posted an article, "Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock: The Long Deaf Goodbye, Explained".  This cultural term comes from our tendency to wile the hours away in much-needed conversation. Most of us know what DST is. But do we know how to channel it in a positive way?


Tip #1: Understand that deaf socialization habits are not the only "culprit".

There's tons of time-management tricks: Backward Goal-Setting, the Urgent/Important Matrix, and even stuff that sounds like kindergarteners or pregnant ladies invented it: Treasure Mapping and the Pickle Jar Theory. We even found a blog post called: "The Art of Concise Conversations." It starts like this:

'Does this sound familiar? One of your colleagues phones you for advice about her project. However, instead of getting right to the point, she spends 20 minutes telling you about her son's latest baseball game, your boss's recent promotion, and the office manager's new shoes.'

Reality check: This is how many in the Deaf Culture bond. When only a small percentage of Americans know sign language, "small talk" isn't trivial. It's the bricks and mortar to a strong community. 

So, to hell with mimicking the socialization patterns of time-starved hearing adults. We're not 13-year-old girls monopolizing the family data plan yapping about our crushes. We're trying to pay utility bills and meet deadlines, like everyone else.

Our beef with the plethora of other time management gurus (including Tim Ferriss, the hyper-efficient guy who supposedly only works 4-hour weeks) and books out there is that they're inevitably written from the hearing perspective.  

Some of us can spend 4 hours a DAY making Relay calls and writing emails to and from administrators, medical practitioners, and conference planners about why they should dip into their budget to hire an interpreter. We feel guilty when we give up, and time feels wasted when we don't always win the battle in the end (check our upcoming article "From a Deaf CPA's Eyes" for the low-down on small businesses and accessibility).

Bottom line:  No one said self-advocacy would come easily - or efficiently. Or did they?

Tip #2: Write, develop, and print out a script. Arm thyself with friendly resources. 

Tired of writing your umpteenth email to yet another business owner who has tossed that dog-eared line, "sorry, our budget is too limited for an interpreter, but you can bring yours for free"? Consider copy-pasting a script with links to resources (such as our tax deductions and credits handout). It'll save you time and energy in the long run.

Also, do you have a friend who is hard-core about ADA compliance? Consider CCing him or her. Name-dropping is a powerful form of persuasion -- just type "I've CCed Jane Doe, who is very experienced with negotiating accommodations situations such as these. Perhaps she'd have suggestions."


Tip #3: To manage your Deaf Fix, set up bar-hopping nights and travel weekends.

As we explained in the ‘Long Deaf Goodbye’, the cultural tendency to meander at one bar or restaurant for hours can be problematic for the waitress who relies on tips and table turnover.

It's no secret that Deafies love to hobnob in crowds - evident whether we're at Deaflympics, DeafNation Expo, or Deaf Coffee nights. It's how networking happens, and also the reason why Deaf people love to travel

Our take on this is, stay out until 3 A.M. if you want. Life's too short to not to paint the town red. But consider setting a game plan to only stay at one establishment for about 90-120 minutes, then get out and stop by another place. Set a timer on your smartphones (to vibrate), if that helps. In lieu of designated drivers, perhaps your crowd could have a designated timer. 

Bonus: More businesses get exposed to deaf crowds, and become accustomed to our culture (and optimal tipping habits, of course!). 


#4: Use your visual powers to think like a hunter-gatherer. 

"Construal-level theory" is the study of how our visual cortex processes information based on short-term and long-term prioritization. 

We're not scientists. But we *can* tell you that more long-term planning is required for deafies. Want to attend your kid's PTA meetings? You better plan, plan, plan for accommodations through the rest of the school year (plus the parent-teacher conference and graduation ceremony). 

Sounds like drudgery, but let's frame it in a positive light: You are the perfect candidate for visualization techniques. This is what an NBA player does before he sinks that last-minute shot. It's what rock stars do before they step into the Super Bowl half-time stage.

It'd be impossible to cover visualization in this article, but consider researching it via the Web, yoga/meditation courses, or a licensed professional if you're serious about goal-setting. 


Tip #5: Think globally, manage time locally. 

Maybe the core of the "problem" isn't that we deafies are apt to Long Deaf Goodbyes, but that we're deaf Americans. The U.S.-based linear approach to time is actually unusual. Travel to Spain, and you'd be flummoxed to see a group of workers seemingly idle away for an hour or two at lunch. Then head to their casas for tapas-induced siestas.  

And so on and so forth for other cultures. You'll hear about "Italian Standard Time," "Chinese Standard Time," and even "Stripper Standard Time" (as one deaf-friendly dancer explained to a deafREVIEW staffer).  

But notice that Italians, Chinese, and strippers live in America nonetheless. They've devised their own systems, and that should be true for us as a Deaf Culture. 

Symptoms like "decision fatigue" and "overstimuli" can arguably be worse for deafies, who rely heavily on visual inputs, text messaging, as well as arranging events via the Zuckerbergian black hole that we both love and hate: Facebook. 

Net result: An overdrive of our internal processing capacity. If we can channel these efficiently, what wondrously creative, productive beings we can be.

We promise you: On your deathbed, you will not look back and regret all the wonderful Long Deaf Goodbyes. But you may wonder if you could have prioritized your daily tasks a bit better, so you could afford to squeeze more deliciously Long Deaf Goodbyes into your 21st Century life.


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