I spend most days connected to a computer. As soon as I am up showered and dressed, I get on my computer. Before I go to work I read personal email, work email, and facebook, if there is time. Once I am at work I am pretty much attached to the computer there as well. I respond to emails, write reports, do grant applications etc. In an average day I spend upwards of 12+ hours on the computer. I used to use the computer to relax by playing games and listening to music. I rarely do this. Now I spend my time on social networking sites.
The net result of this computer attachment I have is that I am feeling scattered and this stresses me out. I am almost constantly multi-tasking especially at work. The only exception I make is that if people are in my office talking to me I take my hands off the keyboard and mouse and engage in the conversation. I find it incredibly disrespectful when people continue to interface with their computers when others are talking to them. I bop between programs all the time. Some times I will click off of a screen and forget what I was going to look for before I get there.
I have been completely immersed in a raffle* we did as a fundraiser for the last couple of weeks. I have created spreadsheets and balance sheets for tracking all the tickets. So today, I needed to attend a conference for work. I had emailed the organizers to see if the setup would be conducive to a laptop and if there was wifi. She got back to me and said no wifi, however she never told me about the setup so I decided to leave the laptop at home. The conference started at 9:30 in Burnaby which meant I needed to get up at 7 am if I was going to make it on time. I no longer, it would seem, do mornings. I am usually up around 10 these days and to work by noon. Needless to exhaustion had set in pretty quickly.
I sat down at the table and I turned my iPhone ringer off. Then the conference started and facebook notifications started up, which distracted me. I decided to turn off the iPhone and give my full attention to the presenters. I took copious notes by hand and actually immersed myself in listening to the presenters.
I really enjoyed the day! This surprise me, as I usually opt to have a computer at my fingertips if I can. This experience demonstrated to me things I had noticed lately. I feel stressed trying to keep up with everything. I am subscribed to many blogs – in the triple digits. I read facebook religiously several times a day. I read and respond to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5o emails a day, if not more. I write a blog most days** (it is my goal to blog for all of 2010) I will read links that people send me sometimes, I rarely watch YouTube videos though. I am on the computer when I am watching TV a lot of the time – although I have begun to reduce that computer time.
What I am noticing is that I skim most things and rarely immerse myself in the details unless it is a report or grant application that requires my full attention. I watch television but it is not relaxing because I am always trying to figure out what I missed. I skim over stuff I like to read because I don’t want to miss what is happening on the show. I am unable to pet dogs when I am on the computer in the living room. Communing with the dogs is an integral part of my relaxation and self-care plan. When interactive components of the computer/internet intrude on other activities I am finding that I am actually causing myself more stress than is necessary.
I have decided that I am going to unplug a little here. Nothing drastic just trying to put a new understanding of how these activities affect my life into practice. I am using a third-party application to put in status updates on facebook. By using the app it means I do not actually have to go there and get sucked in. I gave up twitter several months ago and I don’t think I will go back, at least for the foreseeable future. I find the twitter interface limited anyway. I prefer facebook and the conversations people can have when they comment on a status update. I am going to strive to do much more for myself in terms of self-care and using the computer in a way that is constructive for me. So, you may see a little less of me on the internet.
*Raffle=lots of work, not much money
**I look at blogging as a release and a way to hone my writing skills. The more you write the better you get hopefully or that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!