What does your average work day look like ? Wait. Don’t tell me.
Does it look something like this ?
You get into the office, fire up your computer and start hacking away at that pile of e-mail that is sitting in your inbox. You don’t even wait to get into the office, but have your smartphone on your nightstand and “just quickly check e-mail” first thing in the morning. You quickly stop by your desk to drop off your things and rush straight into your first meeting
I used to be like you. I used to be that guy. Constantly rushed. Never any time. Always on, always connected.
At some point, I remember being on my fifth cup of coffee by 10.00 AM as a regular habit. Checking my Blackberry in every meeting I went. Firing off e-mails literally while I was going down the elevator, ready to hit “send” the second I got out. And having conference calls in the back of taxi cabs like it was the most natural thing in the world.
At some point, things got so bad I started feeling guilty if I didn’t.
And I hated it.
Like a lobster in hot water.
I am old enough to have had this problem – and overcome it, but we’ll get to that – and young enough to still remember when I got my first cellphone. I was amazed. It was a bare bones black Nokia. Back then, they made ’em Ford style: any color as long as it’s black. And all of a sudden I had the amazing ability to make phone calls from anywhere. The street. The park. The coffeeshop near my house. Oh joy – to be free from landlines, and instantly reachable by those I cared about.
And I remember getting my first Blackberry. A sign that I had now joined the ranks of the corporate elite, those that needed to be always reachable, always connected. And so on and so forward. Like a lobster sitting in hot water, I never really realized what was coming until things started feeling very uncomfortable.
Fast forward fifteen years or so. I now have five devices around the office and my house that allow me to “be connected”. Five things that suck up my time, my energy and perhaps most importantly – my attention.
But recently I decided to do something about it. I decided I probably did not need two smartphones, and chucked my Blackberry in a drawer – and it’s been there for about a few weeks now, gathering glorious dust. No more instant notifications. No more desire to check when the flickering screen displayed a number next to the e-mail icon. I started disabling the WiFi on my iPad in the evening. And the iPhone usually spends the night on the kitchen counter nowadays.
And you know what ? It feels liberating. It feels wonderful. I now spend more time talking. Reading. Unwinding. Relaxing. And the most amazing thing ? It turns out less is not more. It is better.
Better time spent with my family. Better opportunities to reflect. Better ideas that pop into my head out of nowhere. And better solutions to the everyday problems life and business throws at me.
You should try it sometime. You’d be amazed.
PS. For a great primer on how to disconnect and lead a fuller, richer life read Leo Babauta’s “Focus.” Available here and completely free.