I live a social life -- both literally and in terms of the media I consume. On our coffee table right now is my iPhone, 2 laptops, an iPad -- and in the other room, a desktop computer, a netbook, and my work computer. My profession is digital / social media, and I'm a bit of a social butterfly, personality-wise, and I make a living working in the digital media marketing space.
I joke a lot about multi-tasking and how I don't know how to function unless I'm doing 10 things at once.
I tweet, I facebook, I blog, I LinkIn, I email, I text, I Pin, I Instagram, I text, I google-chat... I get both my gmail and my work email pushed to my iPhone. And I read a ton of blogs.
Most nights, when the dishes are done and obligations are complete, you can find Mike and I sitting on the sofa watching TV, and more often than not, I have a laptop in my lap and the iPhone / iPad sitting next to me -- sometimes I'm reading on the iPad, sometimes I'm texting with a friend.
I feel really tired just writing that out, and it has dawned on me in recent days that perhaps I'd benefit from a bit of a technology break.
Somewhere throughout the course of our whirlwind engagement, I started reading the blog Simple Marriage - they have podcasts and classes on marriage, none of which I've ever participated in, but every few days, the blog has some nugget of wisdom or advice that makes me think. I'd already been thinking about warning my friends and family that I was going to be less "connected" on email... and then today's article came along: Being 100% Present.
I read an article a few years ago about how young people -- women specifically -- were having unusual memory problems, and how it was due to stress -- the brain can only hold onto so many short term memories, and when your head is full of song lyrics, the preamble of the constitution that you memorized in 5th grade, Sex and the City lines, a college education, and all the piano and flute songs you were perfecting around age 18, something's gotta give. I remember thinking "Oh, my memory is great!" And -- it IS -- when it comes to long term memory... but lately, my short term memory has been shamefully bad.
I blame stress -- to a certain extent -- but lately I think that perhaps I'm just not listening with my whole head and heart. I think they are linked -- the over-tech'd multi-tasking happens because the technology is there and available and enjoyable, but also because the amount of work (both personally and professionally) that needs to get accomplished is less possible without taking advantage of every second -- I can't even imagine what my workload would look like if I didn't have access to my work email on my iPhone. I'm away from my desk for 90% of each day, attending meetings, and probably get over 150-200 emails per day . To come back to that at 5 PM each day would mean working until 7 PM every night -- not gonna happen. So yes, the tools I use are created for productivity and efficiency, but when the quality of your output suffers, it hurts more than helps.
I can't tell you how many times I've been clicking through my iPhone at
the start of a conference call, only to miss the first 8 minutes. Or
while in conversation, started thinking about something else and then
totally missed the point. Or spend time responding to texts while I should be focusing on the person in front of my face.
As somebody who prides herself on being an excellent communicator, this is not a discovery or admission that I'm proud of, so starting today is my effort to change -- to listen more, type less, and hopefully be a better wife, friend, employee, and daughter. My stress level is off the charts lately, and I'm not optimistic that is going to change anytime soon, so I guess that means the change has to come from me.
I'm writing from home this morning -- working remotely while waiting for the window installation guys to come and complete the last major project before The Hubs and I put the house on the market. I got up at my usual time and threw on sweats and headed into the yard to plant the hosta that his aunt thoughtfully gave us this weekend. We've hired a lot of people to get things done around the house lately, but the piece we conquered ourselves was the yard -- and it made me remember how, at this time of the year, I love to garden; love to plant, love to nurture and grow. I wish I had a true "before" picture to show you the virtual FORREST that was in this area below, but now that it is done it is a peaceful, serene, beautiful place for us to relax.
My goal for the next week is to turn off the TV, the iPhone, the iPad and the laptop, and spend more time enjoying this space - talking, laughing, dining, and just breathing.
And being 100% present.
Off and running,