My challenge to myself this month is to find a minimalistic approach to how I handle my time. Since time doesn’t come in an endless supply I don’t want to rush through it, and I don’t want to spend great amounts of it on things that aren’t important to me. I’m not looking to be more productive, or find a way to squeeze in more things in my day – I’m looking for ways to live life in a simpler, less complicated way.
I’ve had a look at my priorities, and now the time has come to weed out some of my time-thieves. Things that just zap away time, without giving me value of any kind. (Once I started thinking and writing about them, this post got very long, and I decided to split it in two – the other part is here.)
The number one greatest distraction I have is my smartphone. I’ve always liked to have access to notes, reminders, lists, calendar, budget… way back, when my life was a lot more complicated, I used to carry a Filofax. Literally heavy stuff! Then I upgraded to a Palm Pilot (remember those? Like a smartphone, only without phone and not so smart – but still easier to carry than the Filofax). I had an iPod Touch for a while, together with a simple cell phone, before I gave in to the new times and got my first all-in-one-smartphone. And with that came the almost-all-time-internet-connection… And access not only to my own stuff, but the whole worlds.
So now I’ll pick up my phone because I need to check the calendar, and notice a message somebody left me suggesting we get together, which makes me wonder what the weather will be like on Friday, and how much money is left on my account, and oh did I remember to register my weight the other day, got to think about eating better, and whatever was in that recipe I wanted to make, I’ll have to look it up, and better put that on the shopping list… And where did that hour go? I was just checking my calendar!
Messaging is also true time-thief for me. Short messages, to inform or remind of something, fine! But conversations via messaging, as some of my friends are fond of having, really eat up time. Not only because there is that waiting period – the other person is writing, I can see that they are, so I wait for their response. But also because it disturbs my focus on whatever I am doing IRL. The constant, recurring interruptions in a mess-conversation kill my flow very efficiently – and a lot of time passes very fast, much more time than the same conversation would have taken over the phone. I still speak faster than I write. I like having conversations in writing, but I much prefer mail. That way I can think about my response and give a response that I can really stand by. At it’s best, it is a great way to exchange deeper thoughts. I feel like messaging is a way of communicating that expects quick responses, although that may be just in my mind.
And then there is Candy Crush and the other things specifically created for passing time… No need to say more about those, I think.
So this morning I removed everything from my phone that can be checked by starting up the computer. Which is virtually everything. I did leave my calendar and the apps for taking photos (not Instagram or Facebook for sharing them though). I’ll try to leave it like that in December, and then see what I miss the most – if anything. (This will also be good for my shoulders and elbows, I’m not really thinking about ergonomy when I’m “just checking the calendar”.) My friends have been informed that they can reach me by phone or mail – but not messaging. And that I might not check my mail every day either. We are all old enough to remember the times when snail mail was the only alternative to the telephone when a week or two could pass between sending and receiving mail – our friendship will survive.