I’m sorry to say that I spent a lot of time on my recent vacation going through my work and personal in boxes and organizing about 1000 emails. This practice confirmed my suspicions that I need a better form of processing digital communication.
Despite the fact that my smartphone is practically an additional appendage, my inbox constantly gets flooded with unwanted emails, things I subscribe to (but never have time to read), client emails, and other communication that often gets lost in the shuffle. Besides project management through email is grossly inefficient.
In the process to figure out a better system, I read some interesting articles that made me realize it is not just my email organization that needs rethinking.
An article in the National Catholic Register titled Face Time Over Screen Time, really called me out. I realized that while on a much-needed vacation with my husband and precious 2, 4 and 10 year olds visiting family, I spent time in front of my laptop, iPad and iPhone that could have been spent making more memories. I didn't just organize my emails either, I did work, volunteer work and played on social media. I disconnected when I should have been connecting with the people I love most.
So as we begin a new school year, I am inspired to make some resolutions:
- First, I am going to do my best to live by the rule suggested by Father Robert Barron, "If you’re in the presence of a real human being, you should never be using technology."
- As suggested by Jennifer Fulwiler, I am going to stop checking my phone first thing in the morning and focus instead on spending time with God, working out and greeting my family.
Fulwiler writes and I totally get it, “If nothing else, smartphones are distraction boxes, and it's hard to start a day purposefully when you're being pulled in a dozen different directions by the new alerts that have come in over the night.”
- Next, inspired by the blog post How to Miss a Childhood, I am designating certain time as "Hand’s Free Time" – time when I will put my phone and other devices down and focus on the moment. These include: driving (yeah, I’m bad at this), from the time I get home from work through the kids bedtime, during therapy time with Joe, during any time I am playing with the kids (park, etc), during the kid’s activities and when helping with homework.
- Finally, I will limit time on email and social media to a half hour in the evening after I put the kids to bed, unless my husband is not home. Instead, I will use the new found time to try to a deeper connection with my husband.
Hopefully, by putting my connection to the digital world in its right place on my priority list and refocusing on the kind of life and home we desire for our children, I will find some internal peace and won't end up missing three precious childhoods and a marriage. What rules do you live by to limit the external distractions and focus on your family?