A Writing Life: I'm Not Available

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I'm Not Available

I just finished reading a fantastic book by Greg McKeown called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. One of the many great things he discusses in the book is how we are always available. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but it's true. I go throughout my day with the mentality that I am always available.

My husband and I talked about this and agreed that, since we both own and run our own businesses, this is a must for us. But is it? In the beginning, when first building a business, company, brand, etc. it takes a ton of time and energy. It is essential in some ways to be available quite a bit of the time. And it's easy to stay in that mode. And don't get me wrong, owning your own shop isn't the only way to get to a place where you tell the world you're available 24/7. With all our nifty cellular devices and whatnot, no matter what you do in life, availability is constant. But is it really necessary?

Before I read Essentialism, I had programmed my watch to alert me when I got an email. It also tells me when a text or phone call comes in. Handy things as a mom, but for work is that really necessary? I recognized that, although I told myself it was a good idea to be able to look down and see if it was an email I needed to answer right then or not, it really was causing me anxiety all day long. Sure, I could ignore some, but my mind was always on a text or email that had come in and I was constantly available. Whether I needed to answer immediately or not became irrelevant. I felt I had to. I have since turned my notifications off. 

So now I have a set time each day to sit down and go through emails. Read them, answer them, then move on. It can be a scary thing to tell others you aren't available too. We worry so much about hurting someone's feelings and even what they will think of us if we aren't at the ready 24/7. But so far, no one has called ranting that I didn't respond immediately. I haven't missed anything vitally important information-wise, and it's astounding how much quieter my day is. No alerts on my phone or watch, nothing "tapping" at me constantly insisting on my time.

I've talked about social media. The constant state of "connection" with people, opinions and information can be daunting. I've seen that when I allow that constant state of availability in my life to everyone and everything, I'm really not there at all for anyone or anything. If I'm focused on a text or email that just dinged on my phone while attempting to listen to my husband talk about his day, am I completely available to him or the person texting me? Nope. I'm trying to split my attention. Not a good idea.

Since being more intentional with my time and availability, I've gotten more work done (I'm actually writing during time set aside to write), I'm more engaged with my family and friends (my phone is tucked away and not alerting me to anything), and I'm more efficient (I'm taking the time to read through emails and respond well instead of quickly as I go about my day).

My fourth book released on March 1st. It was also my daughter's 18th birthday. I was available for work things earlier in the day but spent the evening soaking in a family dinner, playing board games, and laughing. A lot. We celebrated her and my book release as a family and to be honest, I have no clue where my phone was that whole time. I was present. In the moment. And it was awesome.

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