Devices

On my walk this morning I thought of a couple of things I’d like to write about. Now that I’m at my computer I can’t remember. That’s the way things are these days.

To piece my memory back together, it’s helpful to remember what I was doing when I thought of things to write about. This morning I was walking the dogs. The mountains were covered with snow and clouds were hiding the peaks. I had my camera in one pocket and my new iPhone in the other. I thought to take a picture on the phone, so I did. Even tweeted it because I could. The limitations of Twitter allowed me to simply say “good morning” with my photo. It was a good morning. Quiet and still as it always is here.

Now I remember what I wanted to write about: devices.

As of this week, I have an iMac, a Kindle, a MacBook Air, a Nikon point ’n’ shoot, and an iPhone. I use my iMac for things creative – recording, writing, and photography – and my Macbook for email and business. I read on the Kindle, and I’m just learning what I’ll do with my iPhone. What I wanted to write about are two rules I’ve put in place so my devices don’t consume me:

1)  I don’t do email on Sunday, and I don’t do email after dinner. The most important reason for this rule is that I don’t want to make myself available in every moment. I’m trying to slow things down not speed things up.

2)  I practice the piano or do my writing before I check email in the morning. Better to do the things I love before I do the things that burn through time.

The addition of an iPhone has made following my own rules more challenging. What do I do about texts that come in on Sunday? Texts are messages that want a quick response. And when I’m checking a text and I see there’s an email or two, do I check them too? Same with the phone: do I answer it on Sunday or do I not? If I do, I’ll see the texts and I’ll see the emails. And what about an email ping that comes in when I’m practicing the piano and my iPhone is also my metronome? Do I read it? Do I wait?

In the last few years I’ve come to believe that the only messages I can’t afford and don’t want to miss are ones from my parents, my siblings, and my closest friends. Business emails can wait, deleting junk can wait, sales can wait, and the DNC can wait. In short, most emails can wait. I used to think I had to check all the time so I wouldn’t miss opportunities. Age and the facts of my life have proven otherwise. Now I tell myself that if something important is on the horizon, the opportunity will last longer than the time it takes me to check email. If it can’t, I probably don’t want to do it anyway.

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