In my determination to simplify my life, I keep meeting the unyielding feeling of constantly being on a stopwatch – as if time is running out and I MUST get things done. I have no idea where this anticipation has come from but needless to say, I don’t like it. Previously, during my “busy” years (as I have come to call them) I ALWAYS had something to do – deadlines to meet, emails to answer in a timely fashion, people to please. To that I now say – bah humbug. But clearly what hasn’t changed in my brain is the constant need to be “on the go”. I could wake up in the morning knowing I have absolutely nothing on my schedule until the next day and STILL feel as if I have to “get going”. “Get going where?”, I will mindfully ask myself, but my brain still fires the “you must be productive today” neurons even though my heart and soul see nothing wrong with doing very little, or, god forbid, nothing at all.
Clearly this is “my stuff” (aka part of a smorgasbord of my own “issues”). However, I have regularly stopped to ponder how I got this way – and many others in modern society for that matter. Personally, I’ve chosen to blame the cell phone. I remember when I was a Recreation Manager and the concept of mandatory company Blackberry’s was being considered for the higher admin people. I was vehemently opposed to this idea. It was bad enough that I was on call from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm six days a week – but to add 24/7 access to business emails to that mix? No thank you. Fast forward three years, and my voluntary purchase of an iPhone, and my life changed forever. What have I learned the most? Numero uno, that my will power sucks. I will try and try NOT to wonder what emails I am getting or who may have texted me, but I always end up sneaking a quick peek – no matter where I try to hide my phone. The second lesson I have learned is that I have given into some unwritten social rule that I MUST have a cell phone/check emails regularly if I am to be a productive and active member of society – both professionally and personally. The more I think about this second point, the more irked I get. When did having a cell phone (more specifically a smart phone) become a social expectation? I’ll go to Michael’s (a craft store) to buy glue and be asked for my email address at the check-out. Why is that even a question? I usually give them a fake email address but the sociologist in me is very tempted to say “I don’t have one” next time I’m asked just to see what happens. I’ll keep you posted 😛
So back to my rant on why I feel I’m always on the clock. As the Team Leader for a local volunteer animal assisted therapy group, I am required to check email regularly. However, I’ll admittedly check my personal email just as much (I mean I’m already in my Gmail account – might as well do a two for one…right?) I get so many emails in the course of a day that if I neglect checking them for a day or two I know I will end up spending several hours going through them, reading and responding. Wow, that sounds like a fun time. Yet this is what we’ve been reduced to – the constant need to “get stuff done”. Even when I’m relaxing by the fire reading a book I can still hear my inner voice prompting me to check my phone or get going on a task that has been lingering on my “to do” list for a little too long. But how do I stop these “spinning” thoughts? Given my first lesson in how much my will power sucks, the obvious thing for me to do is to cut off instant access to the temptation. When I spend time in nature technological access is gloriously non-existent. I don’t worry about what I’m missing or what I should be checking or following up on because I wouldn’t be able to do it even if I tried. So in an effort to take another step closer to creating a simpler life for myself, I have decided to remove access to my email from my smart phone. (Note: I realize you are probably wondering why I don’t get rid of my phone entirely – well Telus and I have decided to remain in a committed relationship for another two years – at which point we will re-evaluate our friendship.) I will also note that I am fully aware that a combination of my ego and my need to feel needed are also at play here (again, my “stuff”) so this cutting off of instant access will no doubt go a long way in reconnecting me with me and with those things that are most important to me – another step in STOPPING and recreating a simpler life for myself. To quote McDonald’s – I’m lovin’ it.