Ding! Without thinking, I turn and grab my phone and check email. Beep! Text message. Ding beep! Facebook notification! Beep Beep! Game notification. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! The sound of another day done and lost to the beep of the inbox.
I didn’t realize how much I was driven by those pesky beeps until they were gone. Gone you say?! Yup. Not too long ago, I lost my job as part of downsizing. I knew it was coming so it wasn’t a shock and well, we had sort of been prepared. My primary, aka supped up, phone was my right hand as part of my home office. I was amazed that before I even hung up the phone with HR, my email was cut off… both on my work computer and my phone. I had about a week to get things wrapped up and sent back, so the cord to totally plugged in while wearing my pjs was slowly cut. Phone service was cut slowly as well, as it was paid in advance so worked to receive internet data but calls were forwarded. Ding! On day two, I grabbed the phone without thinking to check what was up.
What are you doing?! I thought. You won’t receive any work emails you silly girl. It had been a text message about change of phone bill status. That happened throughout the next two days for the various appointments that were scheduled to happen but did not. I grieved for the change I did not want and for the people I was not longer connected to. Then I simply turned off the dings all together.
Being a to do list sort of girl, I busted out the trusty rusty pen and paper did a giant brain dump of all the things that needed to happen in MY life, in my FAMILY’s life… and let me tell you, it was a full list. I checked that list throughout the day and crossed things off. I included things like projects I have wanted to finish, Pinterest projects I have wanted to try in addition to making of appointments and laundry and grocery shopping.
Each day had a *** this must happen*** today thing or two (or five!) on it.
I updated the list for the next day each night. You know what? I continued to move forward, only with projects that were important and meaningful to my family and me. Since becoming a mom, that has never happened because I have ALWAYS worked.
For the past 17 years, I have followed the marching orders of another or a team of others. For a good11, I have been a slave to my inbox. The inbox, checked diligently in the morning, let me know what needed to happen for the day alongside the appointments I had… aka… what fires needed to be put out. Each ding gave me a new assignment with the perception that it needed to happen NOW! What that approach didn’t allow for was effective execution of long term projects and it definitely did not include what needed to happen for my family, as my work and personal emails were always kept separate. Those things somehow got slipped in, sometimes sadly by the skin of their teeth.
So as I have gotten reconnected through technology, I have made a conscious choice to keep the “notifications” off or at least to a minimum. I have also turned game notifications off on my children’s devices as well. I am still plowing through my to do list and by accomplishing those *** must happen today*** things I have kept moving forward. I have an OLD phone, that still works for its intended purpose of simply making calls and I think it may have texting capabilities. I am debating the need for something else. Am I crazy? I have an ipod and an ipad and a computer… how many different ways do I need to plug into the internet? Heck, I even have a gps. I grew up without all of that technology and managed to survive. I know in the long run that will not likely happen but in truth, there is no reason for it not to.
Am I saying abandon technology or emails or the internet? Heck no. There are lots of cool things available at our fingertips now. What I am saying is that now, by choice, I close my laptop and walk away. I get off the time suck of internet searching/social media update checking/inbox filling distractions to focus on what is going to move me forward… in my career, with my family, with my life. We have even as a family chosen to “unplug” regularly, in order to do the same. The first day is hard, let me tell you. After 2 days though, you will find that you don’t miss it as much and after 3, it will be easy to walk away from again because chances are, you have filled your life with good stuff in the mean time and that will be what is more important.
So as I close this computer for the day, I am going to triple dog dare you to unplug for a weekend at home and try checking your email only at lunchtime, plowing through your own to-do list for work or home instead of answering to it’s ever building distraction of other people’s “to dos” for you. It will be worth your while, I promise.
I would love to hear if you tried this and if so, how it went so please leave a comment! Right now I am off to play with my little man before I have to send him to Kindergarten next year… but that’s a different post altogether.