Last week I enjoyed a nice vacation in Door County with the fam. We rented a house that was just big enough for the eleven of us: me, Kim, Mom, Dad, and my brothers’ families. We roasted marshmallows, fished for salmon, gazed at the stars, played mini golf, sampled wine, sat on the beach, and ate lots of cherry-related products (thumbs up on the cherry barbecue sauce). I also did something I haven’t done in years: I didn’t check e-mail or surf the internet once.
Somehow, the world continued to rotate on its 23 degree axis.
Now, it took some planning and preparation to pull it off. I cleaned up my e-mail inbox, prepped all the web site files, and trained Jenna to do the updating. I had intended to check e-mail mid-week, but once I got a taste of living low tech, that goal didn’t take long to evaporate. It was a relaxing week.
And now for emphasis: the sun still rose and set on a regular basis and the business didn’t crumble to the ground.
Hmphf. It all makes me wonder why I place so much urgency and importance on checking my e-mail so many times a day. There were plenty of internet cafés I could’ve visited to “stay connected.” (Or in other words, “stay distracted.”) But then I might have missed out on playing catch with my brother, talking about our hopes and dreams. I might have missed out on the spirited game of Disney Uno with my nieces. Or the refreshing walk with my bride amidst a green cathedral of pine trees.
Our world is connected like never before. And all of our technological advancements are supposed to give us more time. Instead, we fall for the temptation of trying to pack more tasks into the time we’ve saved.
I heard a saying once that if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.
Adultitis thrives in all this busyness. And all this busyness tricks us into feeling like we’re productive. When we feel productive, we think we’re actually getting something accomplished. And when we think we’re getting something accomplished, we are fooled into believing that our work is not only obligatory, but indispensable.
But here’s what’s really happening: life is passing us by.
We miss out on the important stuff because we’re convinced that the busyness is a standard operating procedure. And we’re deceived by the mirage that someday, if we work hard enough, our to-do list will be cleared. As David Allen reminds us in Getting Things Done, you will die with things STILL on your to-do list.
This never-ending hamster wheel is the part of adulthood we need to escape from now and then. As difficult as it may seem, we need to unplug ourselves from the daily grind. To think it’s not possible is not only wrong, it’s flat out foolish. If your situation is really bad (like checking your cell phone for messages every minute on the minute bad), perhaps you should consider an all-out “tech sabbatical.”
These are the questions you need to seriously ask yourself: Do you really need to work extra to afford that lastest gadget? Will life cease to exist if you don’t check your e-mail three times before breakfast? What’s the worst that will happen if you don’t answer your cell phone while you’re having lunch with a friend?
Can you detach yourself from busyness for an hour a day? A day a week? A week every three months?
Here’s the biggie: What will you miss if you don’t?
[tags]busyness, tech sabbatical, Door County, e-mail, Adultitis, David Allen, technology, lifestyle design[/tags]
Maria Palma says
Thanks for the reminder! I’ve been sitting in front of this computer for the last four hours and I realize that I’m missing out on some important cartoons!!
By the way, I just got back from a vacation in Chicago and at night played video games until 4:30 a.m. with my best friend. The last time I did that was when I was 14 years old!!
I have to say that the few times I’ve done this, I have felt more balanced. I think that tv can fall into this category sometimes too. Over Memorial day, I didn’t realize until Tuesday morning that I had only watched about 30 min of tv since Saturday morning. I did things that I normally wouldn’t have done because I would have been watching tv. Now, I love a good tv show & I love to unwind with it at night, but it was a good reminder to me of as with any tech stuff – balance is crucial — and healthy. :)
Sue — Funny how much enrichment you can add to your life by turning off the tv once in a while…
Maria — Video games are a great way to Escape Adulthood. Especially with Nintendo’s new Wii. Hard to be stuffy and serious when you’re playing that.
Fascinating how I’m sitting here at the bus stop reading this on my cell phone… :-)
Oh, and I agree about Nintendo. Quality establishment. (Of course, I may be just a bit biased.) :-)