A Writing Life: Sorry, I'm Not Available

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sorry, I'm Not Available

We live in a world where we can be available to anyone at any time, all the time. Don't get me wrong. I’m a total technology junkie. I love me my iPad, phone, laptop, etc. I do. But I've recognized recently that I don't ever shut off.

As a mom of three kids, I've felt for 19 years that I am on call 24/7. The chant of "Mom. Mom. Mom," is a part of my daily life, night and day. My kid are self-sufficient, highly independent people, but let's face it. A kid's knee jerk reaction when there's a question is to ask mom. I get it.

Add on top of that my phone dinging with an email, an Instagram alert, a text message and...

I've got 24/7 availability madness happening. It's exhausting. And I’m over it.

We just spent a week in Colorado visiting my side of the family. It was awesome. We went tubing down a river in Golden, we spent all day at Waterworld in Denver, and we went White Water Rafting. On that particular trip, we were advised to leave everything behind to not risk having anything fall out of the boat and into the Arkansas River. So, I left my phone behind.

I know. I know. It's pathetic to admit that I had a teeny, tiny, moment of panic over it. What if I wanted to take that most perfect picture for Instagram? What if my mom needed us and I couldn't get to a message or text? What if? What if? What if?

The what ifs in life are brutal.

I'm happy to say I not only left my phone behind but I turned it off, tucked it into my bag in the trunk of the car and went on my merry way. We floated down the river and I basked in the beauty all around me, I focused when rapids got intense, and I laughed myself silly as my kids splashed me and my husband with freezing cold river water.

I was only available to the people in my boat and it was awesome.

The other day, I went to get a much needed massage. After all of our activity, my body was beat. I went to turn my phone to Do Not Disturb so my kids could call me if they needed me but then thought, "They'll be fine. I'm turning off my phone." So I did. And funny thing. I turned my phone back on afterwards and I didn't have any new emails, no new texts or calls. No major emergencies happened in the hour I was unavailable. The world kept turning even though I wasn't 100% available to the entire planet.

My sister has four boys ranging from age 23 to 16. The woman is a machine. I was beyond impressed with all she gets done in a day. But I noticed something. She's not a slave to her phone.

She focuses on one task at a time, does it well, then moves to the next one.

Hmmmm. Interesting concept. Don't get me wrong. She's a mom. She can multi-task. But her focus was inspiring. And her pace wasn't crazy frantic and busy. It was steady. She controlled how she did things and the time she did them in.

I came home with a new outlook on my day. I get up, I read my Bible and write in my prayer journal. I walk the dog. I have breakfast, get dressed and get going. I like that. It's my "me" time and starts my day off right. I used to roll over and grab my phone and stare at that before my feet even hit the floor. But not anymore. My phone is plugged in overnight in my office, not my room. I don't even go to it until the above list of things is done.

Because it's too distracting. It makes me 100% available to the world right away, and I don't want that anymore.

I'm sure many authors out there will disagree with me and that's okay, but I don't believe tons of social media time sells books. It just doesn't. It's a great tool to let people know about your books and to communicate with readers (the only reason I like being on it), but it's not a means to an end for me. It's just a distraction.

In the mere few days I've changed my mindset, I've seen unreal differences.
  • I get more done in a day and I do it well because I'm focused on my one task. 
  • I have little to no desire to sit and stare at my phone. I spend maybe 30 minutes, max, scrolling through media and then I move on.
  • My mind is much clearer in the morning not bogging it down with all that's on media or apps on my phone.
  • I'm more organized about my day. I don't have "extra" stuff in my head I don't need.

This may not be a way for everyone to function. I get that. But try to be unavailable for a little while. See what happens. I dare ya. :)

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