Thanks to our ubiquitous devices we are more vulnerable to other people’s expectations than ever before. Whether it is our boss, colleagues, or even family, the number of people who can cause our phones to ping, shake, and flash has never been greater.
At work there has been an assumption for years that everyone is sitting at their work stations playing ping pong with emails and any response slower than instant is cause for rising frustration and paranoia. Now that we carry our connections with us all the time this assumption has escaped the confines of the office.
Instead of enjoying our lunchtime walk to the sandwich bar we constantly fret “Did they see my great idea in that email I sent them?”, “What if they didn’t think it was so great?”, “What if they are laughing at it with the folks they are drinking with in the bar?”, “I wish I’d been invited to the bar”. And on it goes…
We have to learn to walk away from all of this. To choose to turn it off, in our heads as well as in our phones. Turning off those visual and audible alerts; leaving the phone behind sometimes; only replying to emails in batches at either end of the day and putting in a note in your email signature that this is your new way or working.
We only have ourselves to blame. If we aren’t in control of our time and attention – who is?