I don’t know about you, but some days I get to the point where I can’t handle one more phone call or text message or e-mail. Don’t even get me started on social media. It is both the amount of information coming in and the pace of everything. Everyone expects and immediate response, and I find that a text or an e-mail interrupts me from what I’m already doing, and then it takes me a long time to get back to the actual task at hand.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my smart phone. I love everything being at my fingertips whenever I need it and the amount of effort I have to put in to staying connected is perfect. I just wish I could turn it off sometimes.
I was talking with a friend about this recently, and it helped me realize that we all do this for different reasons. My friend wants to be of service and helpful to people, so likes being available for that reason. I know others who do it because it’s just an expectation from family members or work. It’s easy to feel pressured to respond immediately or to constantly be checking in with what everyone else is doing.
I think it’s difficult to push back and set limits on our time, and it certainly doesn’t make you popular, but I also think it’s necessary at times. I recently went on vacation where I had spotty cell signal, and even the wi-fi wasn’t so good. It was relaxing not to have the amount of messages and notifications I get on a daily basis. I felt so much less stressed. I spent a lot less time looking at my phone and computer and a lot more time doing other things I enjoy.
I haven’t made any resolutions for the new year, but one thing I would like to do is to spend less time tied to the internet and communication in general. I still want to respond to everyone who takes the time to reach out to me. I do return phone calls, e-mails, texts, and everything else, but I want to feel like I am doing it in my own way and in my own time. I want to check my phone only a couple of times a day instead of a couple of times in an hour. I’ve found that not much happens when I check it so often anyway. I want to be more intentional about my communication with others instead of feeling pressured and rushed.
Another friend recently told me that she had taken social media apps off her phone because she was checking them too often, and she noticed how much of her time she was spending doing that instead of doing what she really wanted to do. Never have we had so much information coming at us with such intensity and so often. We need to change how we think about how we are relating to it. I think that we do need to set limits on when and how we are available to others. We need to have clear boundaries on when we will or will not return phone calls or texts. We need to be aware when we are sending out work e-mails late at night and what kind of an expectation that puts on others who think they are required to respond. And we need to communicate those boundaries to others so they know what to expect from us. This is what intentional communication is all about.