I am struggling with communictation again. I have written about it before. I had so many Twitter accounts for work, blogging, and personal, and was managing a lot of social media, plus a handful of e-mail addresses and couldn’t cope.
I cut back, and it helped. However, I do still struggle with the access that we (I mean I, of course) have allowed the world to have to us. Smartphones are amazing peieces of technology, allowing us to do so much, but with them comes the 24/7 ability to communicate with the world, and the world to be able to access us. I stupidly have allowed myself to get into the habit of instant reply to e-mail, sms and other communication apps. I find it incredibly stressful that I feel I have to reply to stuff. I know it’s mostly my own fault, I have a reputation for being prompt with replies, getting back to people fast and being on top of communication. I do think the world has got a mindset, with the arrival of technology that we should be reachable all the time. LSH’s work has an expectation that he is reachable, unless he is somewhere with no coverage or reception on his phone, lots of people work for companies where mails are sent at 10pm at night with a response expected. It’s a bit mad really. I have two very good friends, who have made the decision to not have smart phones, and who don’t use anything but calls and sms on their phones. They don’t feel that instant e-mail access is necessary to their lives, and they are so right. I admire them. They know who they are, I won’t mention them but I think they have made a good choice. Yes, for some, instant access to mail, for work is probably vital, but I do think it has gone to far. I loved this article about how a German company is deleting mails when people are on holiday to reduce stress. I think that’s a great idea. Maybe it should be a general rule? Would the world cope?
I personally am lucky. I work for myself, on the blog, and for an organisation that does not put that expectaion on me. I don’t do a job where an INSTANT mail is needed, because of share prices dropping or rising, or where a delayed decision could have major finanical impact on a company. I do like to reply to my mails promptly, from work, or related to work and also on the blog, but I don’t NEED to be putting pressure on myself to reply to stuff as soon as I can see the little blinking sign that a mail has arrived on my iPhone.
I am not very good at controlling how much I access social media and the tools I use to communicate, so I have taken the somewhat drastic action in the form of deleting all mail and communication apps off my phone. I also counted the number of messaging apps I have access to, and was slightly horrified. I have basic SMS and iMessage that come with the iPhone, GoogleHangouts, What’sApp, Yahoo Messenger, and then the pressure from Facebook to add a seperate messegner app too.
I don’t need all of those. I use one to communicate with my Dad, when he is abroad, as it’s the easiest way to get hold of him, and send messages and pictures, and also to video call him, but I don’t need all the other instant messahge stuff. I won’t be downloading or using the Facebook message app, and I have deleted both What’sApp and Yahoo messenger. I don’t need all these extra apps with instant access.
For a month, I have set up auto reply on my e-mail. I know autoreply is annoying but I want to let people know that when they mail me, I will reply, but only at certain times. I am not answering e-mails about classroom rota swaps for Sunday school at teatime when I am trying to feed the children and get bedtime rolling, I won’t be replying to mails about blogging requests until I have some clear space to think, and if I am busy with the children, who are still of course, my main priority then I won’t be pushing myself to answer messages via messaging services. If someone really needs me and it is urgent, then they have to call me. My voicemail works pretty well, and I always check it.
I am trying to claw back some time, reduce my stress and be more available to those that really need me, right now, my family. I have set myself up as an instant access person, and I am trying to revert the habits that come with that, a bit. We shall see how a month goes, with this new “less access” set of rules in place.
So, if you need me, call me, send me an e-mail by all means, (I will answer when I have time, not instantly, possibly) send me a letter, or pop round for a cup of coffee. I am still here, just not letting the world and my own set of self enforced rules on communiction get to me so much…. 😉