Learning to turn off

Esther and i were driving tonight and a good number of the cars we were around had the bright screens of DVD players showing out their windows. One of the vehicles turned to go to the same store as we were, which clued us into the fact that the vehicle and it’s occupants were not on a road trip of any kind. Probably just a run to the store, like us.

What was most disturbing was that the children in the back seat had the DVD players on for a trip to store.

Can a child not make the five, maybe ten, minute ride to the store without having to have five, or ten, more minutes of “fill in the blank” DVD?

This has been theme today. Not only the kin in the car, but during training today, two of the three other people in the training were pulled away by phone calls or email. This normally would not phase me, the two people are normally every hard to pin down due to the high visibility of their jobs. They are constantly putting out fires.

The issue will be more concerning when I have to spend a good amount of time getting them back up to speed or re-teaching them parts of the software package they missed out on. Cellphones are designed with an off button for a reason. So that should you need to focus or not be disturbed, you cannot be reached.

The same can be said for email but during evenings and on the weekends. If you are never offline, how does one know when work ends and the “rest of life” begins. (As a side note, it is sad that I feel the need to refer to the living as the “rest of life”, but it is appropriate when referring to a particular co worker.)

I think this trend started with cell phones and has gotten progressively worse as cell phones have grown “smart”, incorporating email, IM, text messaging.

To stop myself from falling into these traps, I have set both my mail client and the mail program on my iPhone to only check for mail manually. I have a “no work email” policy for both evenings and during the weekend. Turning off can be some of the best therapy for a stressed out worker, I know that I now have time to focus on “worK” as opposed to managing my email, etc. It also provides time to focus on activities outside of work, in my case, running and artistic endeavors, which are important in continuing to develop as a “whole” person.

Take this weekend and turn some inputs off.