Thursday, May 15, 2014

Switching Off and Slowing Down

A couple weeks ago my wife--whom I love deeply, and so often understands me better than I understand myself--caught me checking my email on my phone at 11:30 at night. I tried to defend myself--lamely--by pointing out the little red icon next to the mail app indicating all the new messages I had waiting for me. Her lovingly-stated solution was elegant and simple:

"Why don't you turn off the notifications?"

Yep. That's right. I can turn them off.

(Thank you, dear.)


Interesting to find myself a slave to the device. I like to think of myself as a thoughtful user of technology...and in general, I'd say I am...even though I'm an admitted technophile.

Yes, there is a time to be connected. 11:30 at night is probably not that time.

Nothing was that pressing that I had to respond immediately.

The fact that the little red icon can affect my behavior was an interesting bit of self-knowledge for me.

And it was a good reminder for me to switch off. To slow down. To make time for other things.


It has been a much more peaceful couple of weeks since turning off those notifications. Which is odd, to be honest, because it was some of the most hectic weeks of my life so far between teaching, studying, committee work, other work projects, parenting, and husbanding. (I know, that last one isn't a word, but I think it should be.)

Silly that amidst all that busyness, something as simple as turning off notifications for my email on my phone would make a noticeable difference, isn't it?

But it did make a difference. I felt less "pull" toward my work when I was not at work, just by making that one small change.


We sometimes talk about work-life balance as something to be achieved. I think this is a skewed way of looking at it. To set "work" and "life" as being diametrically opposed rubs me the wrong way. Work is part of life. Often, our work is an integral component of our lives.

But I think we do have to be intentional (okay, maybe it's just me, but I'm guessing not...) about not letting work become too much a part of the whole of our lives.

Work is one part of life.

Sometimes we need to switch off and slow down.

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