Getting "Off the Grid"
Some of us get anxious when we can’t get online for some time and want to check our emails, Facebook posts, and Twitter messages continuously. I don’t think we need to be so dependent on our online lives, and try to see the rewards of being offline for some time.
Last March I lost my Samsung Blackjack phone. At that time, I was really hooked up with it, but now believe it's loss was a godsend! Without a connected phone, I need to get into a computer to check my email or browse the web. That made realize how much time we spend being “connected”.
The BlackBerries, the iPhones, the smartphones, and now iPads have become so integrated into our lives that we can’t imagine being without them anymore. We feel “naked” if we are not carrying one of them and receive text messages, change Facebook status, and reply to every email within minutes (or seconds).
Some people respond to emails without thinking; we have become reactive instead of proactive. Very few of the emails we receive demand an immediate action on our part. Most of them are informational, and can be safely set aside to be read at a time that is convenient rather than interrupting our work.
Last June we went camping with some family members to Raystown Lake in Central Pennsylvania, a great location for fishing, hiking, kayaking. I was “off the grid” for five days: no email, no cell phones, no Wi-Fi. When I was able to connect again I had a bunch of messages waiting in my inbox. How many of them required my immediate attention? None!
Of course that is not always the case, and all those “glorified” devices are useful to stay in touch, but we can’t let people assume we are going to answer their messages in real time. When they think we do, they demand immediate attention. That can be a very negative influence in our work and private lives.
I know people that only answer emails twice a day, in the morning and an hour after lunch. Their contacts are used to that; they don’t expect an answer until those “email” times. I think that is a great idea to make sure you don’t get interrupted all the time during work and, more important, during your family time.