I was having coffee with a new acquaintance down the street last week and realized our conversation was a little disjointed. Then I saw she was texting under the table while she was telling me about her job hunting adventures. Idly, I wondered what couldn’t wait.
You see things like that a lot these days. And it’s not just rude stuff. It’s dangerous, too, like texting while driving. Has the electronic revolution turned on us?
Not too long ago, electronic messaging of various kinds was a valuable tool. Now it seems to be more of a demanding taskmaster. So many of us are just too busy with our iPads, iPhones, messages and email to stay connected to real life. Or even common sense. Last week I was posting on Facebook and I realized I was responding to a man I don’t even know.
Maybe there’s another branch to the problem. Chatting, in person, with a friend the other day, I was startled when she told me she’d gone to a dinner for the Humane Society. I know she doesn’t really like animals, so I asked why she went. “Well, I might meet a new man, a new business prospect … and maybe I was supposed to be there”.
Maybe we think we have to be everywhere these days, in touch with all the latest news, grasping at every straw of an opportunity, meeting everyone we need to meet and all it has to happen right away. It might make us feel very productive, but what we’re really doing is disconnecting from the people and things we really value.
Last week I was so busy tweeting, posting, and writing articles that I forgot a good friend’s birthday, and that never happened before.
The condition even has an acronym – FOMO – and I don’t know if it can be cured. FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. We frantically attend events we don’t care about, send out dozens of happy birthday messages on Facebook, and respond to hundreds of tweets from people we barely know.
Maybe you can give it a try with me? Lets try Paring On Down. Here are some ways to do it.
- Slim down your calendar. See what you’re doing that can be eliminated. Do you want to attend another association lunch? If not, cancel it. If you have ten telephone meetings, maybe half can be done by email.
- Spend less time on Social Media. If you are on Facebook on Twitter, decide to allot certain hours each day to them. Maybe after work for an hour, or before work, but not checking them all day long.
- Develop a strategy to receive fewer emails. I unsubscribe to newsletters, promotions and LinkedIn groups each week. Figure out a way to delete emails from all your electronic devices.
- Don’t use texting like email. Texting, for me, is almost an immediate response mechanism for a timely meeting. I feel compelled to answer texts, and they draw my attention away from work.
I figure if you take the Challenge with me, we might free up a few hours a day. Imagine what we can do with that time. I can finish the book I’m writing. I can clean out my closet. Take the art course I’ve been considering, and probably write more blog posts here and on Forbes.com.
What will you do with the extra time? Please let me know and comment below. We can do this together. We’ll be the POD People.