Remember sitting on a train on the way to work, reading a newspaper to prep for the morning’s water-cooler conversation? Or staring out the window to clear the mind before a big meeting?
The encroachment of mobile technology truncated these moments such that we ended up working during our commutes. The WFH surge brought on by the pandemic has further whittled down transition times to non-existence. We now move instantly from leisure to work and back again. We jump on video conference calls, write presentations and respond to DMs at all hours — coffee breaks, bathroom breaks and lunch breaks are no longer really breaks.
Sci-fi authors used to dream of teleportation — instant travel between places. We now teleport between our personal and professional lives.
The challenge, however, is that idle time is fascinating and critical. It’s not a productive time but is an essential precursor for productivity, a state of getting ready. As such, it is often filled with negative connotations: laziness, slacking or goofing off. But, as our world continues to be more demanding, idle time is becoming scarcer and even more valuable. We do ourselves a disservice if we only see idle time as wasted because this time in between the action of our lives is really our moment to transition from one state to another. A commute after work is as much about getting home as it’s about shedding the work persona while getting ready for the joys and, oftentimes, demands of home life.
As humans we need time to transition, process, recharge, relax and reset. It’s hard to be productive when we’re being pulled in a million directions at once. The idle proceeds the action, and without it, it can be hard to meet the needs of what’s next. And in the face of a pandemic that has evaporated much of our idle time, the importance and value of transitions are becoming more apparent.
I’ve spoken before about the unique ways that leaders in the cannabis sector can tailor their offerings to help people transition more smoothly between the various roles of their lives and the demands of the day. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to explore this idea as part of SXSW where I was a panelist for a talk focused on the future of cannabis and how cannabis innovation would evolve by 2050. During the conversation, we spent time exploring the very nature of mood management and how its potential and impact are likely to continue evolving over the coming decades.
During the SXSW panel, renowned futurist Faith Popcorn also painted a picture of a future where the metaverse is as common and integral to our everyday lives as the cellphone. While there is much to ponder and debate regarding the metaverse, one idea that resonated with me is that it would create yet another need for transitions. Beyond transitioning from parent to partner or employee to friend, we will need to transition between a virtual and in-real-life existence.
The demands of an always-on digital world will continue to morph and grow, whether we’re ready or not, which could further reduce the opportunities for idle time and transition. To get the most out of this future, and capitalize on the connection and limitlessness it offers, we’ve got to be prepared to flow smoothly through various worlds, moods and even personas. Technology and the metaverse are allowing people to connect in new ways while experiencing moments that were once only possible in person. But as more of life becomes digital and real-time, we will have less opportunity for the reprieve transition times bring.
Today, cannabis companies and their leaders are empowering people to find how cannabis fits into their lives — on their own terms. In the future, I believe more emphasis should be placed on innovative applications designed to smooth out those jarring transitions as we adapt the way we manage our moods throughout the day. The cannabis industry has the ability to innovate, create and offer products that can help consumers achieve balance in their busy lives that lack transition; this holds fundamental value in a world that constantly knocks us out of balance.
So how would this work? The key lies in thinking about how our lives have evolved.
As our world shifts between IRL and URL, work and leisure, on and off, zero and 100 mph, the ability to enhance the feelings connected to our online and offline experiences can help reframe our perspective and further redefine our relationship with cannabis. Think of how long-distance and virtual relationships will likely evolve and change in the metaverse. Where do our products fit into consumers’ lives to help deepen connections and intimacy? How can we create opportunities to put us more in the moment than analog or digital communication ever could by itself?
In a world driven by digital innovations unheard of 20 years ago, people will need to cultivate the mindset necessary to move through life with little idle time. I expect that as the world we live in grows more demanding, this extraordinary plant could offer an incredible opportunity for achieving balance in an increasingly unbalanced world.