It’s Your Time, Your Choice
Available. Online. Away. Busy. Irrelevant.
Do you worry about an email you haven’t responded to? Or a text that is supposedly ‘begging’ for a reply?
Following on from covering tech addiction, the next logical step is to look at our availability. If you’re available all the time, you’ve lost your self.
Never before in the history of the planet have we been so easily contactable – through multiple ways; Text; Chat apps; Email; Video Link; Social Media; and Phone call.
In an age of mass connected-disconnectedness it’s perhaps not surprising that phone calls are becoming a rarity among certain age groups. Which is sort of hilarious because that’s what a phone was made for.
The point is, that if you have a mobile phone (in particular) you are potentially leaving yourself open to be available every minute of the working day and beyond it.
That’s like leaving the front door open to your home in a neighbourhood with lots of robberies and expecting to have nothing stolen.
Wake the hell up. Your time is being stolen.
Some people are better at restricting the time spent being contactable than others, and it is a crucial thing to master with more and more importance as time passes. Time management is not a sexy topic but it doesn’t need to be.
Productivity is slayed by interruptions.
Even in the workplace. Ask any one who has been a receptionist and they’ll tell you it’s a bastard of a job. It looks easy to the outsider, like someone just sitting there occasionally answering a phone or on the keyboard.
When the brain is expected to take and make calls, remember to write notes, answer emails and engage with people face to face along with a bunch of others tasks, it’s draining. That’s in the workplace in a role that expects those elements.
But we only have a finite supply of energy that is available to us and we need it for focus otherwise errors are made.
May They Have Your Attention
Productivity is not the only thing to consider.
In life, focused attention is necessary – utterly essential – to achieving anything of significance in your life. Tunnel vision, flow, immersion, totally Mihalyi’d – we need that unbroken focus to really get into a task and do it well, to have insights, to allow some creativity to occur.
Never mind great things, even good things cannot be created without attention. In fact, focused attention is so incredibly vital to getting stuff done even now with al the research and info we have it is grossly underestimated.
Would you want your surgeon to be watching YouTube while he works?
When you add in a laptop or mobile phone to the mix, and a lack of discipline the ability to get work done or to even enjoy time to relax in our leisure time is destroyed.
Just by virtue of having a mobile phone, to be contactable so easily and readily, potentially 24/7 is enough to majorly affect some people’s lives to their severe detriment.
Being available is a sickness.
And it all seems so innocuous. Which is what makes technology dangerous.
Without giving our self the time to think, to unwind and have some time to our own thoughts, to reflect, to zone out – without those – we become overrun with external events and needs and whims to the point they can seriously impact life. Not only that we become susceptible to external bullshit which adds another unnecessary thing to drain our attention.
I’ve seen people become humourless, robotic, scripted versions of their former selves.
They are so busy, as in they’ve allowed their life to become so adrenalised and all consuming that they are a different person. Being available all the time or even for large periods of time is not good.
You know that voice that’s telling you, ‘But what if I don’t reply to that email…’
Tell it to shut the hell up.
It’s just an email. Unless it is urgent, it’s nothing to care about right now.
People get way to caught up in responding to texts and emails as if the world might end should a reply not be made.
That thinking gets people into a stressed anxious state which is no good for them or any one around them.
Sometimes it’s simply thinking of it from this angle:
If I don’t reply to the email/text/Whatsapp group chat… what will happen?
You know what? Nothing.
Nothing. If something is urgent, they’ll call or get in contact some how. And be careful of what others consider urgent. Often it isn’t.
You don’t need to be available.
The least productive people I know are available all the time. They’re answering friends messages, business related stuff, Instagramming, emailing, researching blah blah all at the same time. And they reply immediately. Because they’ve become conditioned to do so.
They’re also highly anxious and their heads are in another place most of the time so you can’t even have a real, grounded conversation. It’s really crazy.
Not only is availability an issue, it’s also utilised by many companies to deliberately display our current status. For exmaple, on Whatsapp you can see if someone has read a message or not. Even when we read a message is not private. In this digital age of integrated networks our whereabouts and activity is so openly broadcast for many it’s lunacy. And disturbing.
Firstly, nobody needs to know where you are necessarily, let alone at all times. Secondly, it’s not necessary to have people know if we’ve read their message yet. The only thing of relevance in that interaction is when the reply arrives. When it doesn’t, then there’s perhaps cause for a follow up.
Be less available.
Time and attention are resources you should treasure or learn to treasure because there’s a ton of outside influences that are desperate to take both if you allow it and if you’re gifting it away with a bow on top then that’s a boundary that needs some repairs.
If you’re not exerting the major influence in your life, some one or some thing will.