As promised, I am reporting this week on my little experiment to stop multitasking. Read about it here if you missed it.
The week began with my wanting to rethink the whole concept of automatic multi-tasking on social media as a good.
Sure enough, I learned a few things.
First, I learned I’m not the only one on social media concerned enough to write about juggling too much, multitasking mania, being too distracted, and how to prevent social media from taking over your life.
- Karen Huber (kmhubersblog.com) wrote a post on May 12 entitled Life as a Juggler. “Age has shown me,” she writes, “that the value of a list is in its items. If the items reflect our practice, every day is a fresh read of our life list.” Karen is a practicing Buddhist.
- Susan Weidener (susanweidener.com), just a week or two before, wrote The Manic Mania of Multitasking and posted it to her blog on April 28. “We’re all busy and we’re all bombarded,” she wrote, “and we are all multitasking like maniacs. As one person said to me, ‘We’ve become an ADHD society.’”
Indeed. That’s how I felt a few weeks ago, like the person who wears the T-shirt reading, “I have ADD but it doesn’t seem to me … oh look, there’s a bunny.”
Forces seemingly outside my control pulled at me constantly. (of course the real problem was that I kept responding to each of them, or thinking I “should”)
- NPR had a special on When Parents Are the Ones Too Distracted By Devices. It was so popular it made it to the “most emailed stories of the week.” That was back in April too.
- And Meghan Ward, writing How to Prevent Social Media from Taking Over Your Life through the SHEWRITES.COM website, described the scene with zest:
You remember that you never RSVP’d to your friend’s book launch, so you log onto Facebook to search for the invitation and you see that another friend finally gave birth to her long overdue baby. You congratulate her. Then you notice that a third friend has posted a fascinating article about orcas and having just watched Blackfish, you can’t help but click the link. Oddly, you recognize the name of the author of the orca article, so you click on that, which takes you to the author’s blog and you see that oh, yes! She is the next door neighbor of a boy who goes to kindergarten with your daughter. You met at a bounce house party. You see that she has a new book coming out, one about … kindergartners! So you click the link and pre-order a copy from Amazon, which suggests that you also read this other parenting book you’ve been meaning to check out for months, but wait … shouldn’t you be supporting independent bookstores? And you have a gift card for Powell’s Books. So you search “Powells” and Colin Powell pops up too and you see that it’s his birthday and that he … what a coincidence … was born on the same day as your father! Which means that … oh crap … today is Dad’s birthday, so you go to his Facebook page to post a message on his wall and … Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. Weren’t you supposed to do something here? Something to do with a party, an invitation … but for what? A birthday party? A kindergarten class event? You can’t remember, so you log off. Then you click on your Google calendar and realize that your friend’s book launch party is this Friday and you haven’t yet RSVP’d.
- There were others, I know. I read another one just the other morning and thinking it curious that so many were attacking this issue at this time. But, I just can’t find them at the moment.
And that’s OK, because, you see, besides that comforting sense that I’m not alone, I also learned that “good enough” is, actually, usually good enough. Rather than drive myself ever more insane with all the “must do” items on my lists, I asked myself a question:
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?
So I didn’t get my four posts per day on Twitter this week (I didn’t even get two each day). How important was that?
I did, however, have an hour-long Twitter Chat with my blogging-for-brand, “Hotel California” (you can check in but you never check out) cohorts. It was fun. I learned quite a bit and even RT’d a few of those tweets. But, I haven’t yet thanked all those who RT’d my RTs. Sigh.
And I planted thirty-five strawberry starts.
I didn’t do anything with Google+, Goodreads, Pinterest, or LinkedIn either. How important was that?
Actually, I may have posted something to Google+. I don’t remember.
I do remember spending Sunday with my mother, preparing another garden bed for spring planting, and finding a high school classmate on FB whom I’ve been searching for and thinking of for years.
I posted to Facebook every day. And I had a good time doing it. Particularly with my newly-found friend of old.
And I realized, the social media platforms that engage me are the ones in which I am engaged with actual people, people I’ve come to know, enjoy, and like. Sometimes a lot.
That’s what draws me back to social media. And that’s what will keep me there long after my book has launched. It’s the connections I can make with people. I don’t mean each Tweet, or each post, or each comment, or even each Like clicked. I don’t mean the contacts I can add up and call upon as the world turns.
I mean the ongoing engagement — the genuine connections I’ve made with individual people over time — that has begun to build into a sense of community. And those people, I know, can wait a bit for a response. The beauty in social media is not it’s immediacy, much as we may want to believe it. I believe the real beauty of social media is in it’s ability to sit and wait for us.
Knowing that, I was free to relax my standards.
- I’m not going to get four PINS in twice a week.
- I’m probably never going to engage actively on LinkedIn. I’m not looking for a job.
Curiously, my behaviors, my actual time on the Internet didn’t change much. What did change was my internal sense of not measuring up.
Calling on my “good enough” mantra,
- each time I was tempted to check email, or “sneak a peak” at my cell phone home page, just to see how many Notifications I had …
- each time I thought how simple life would be if I could just play one game of computer solitaire, or catch up on what was happening on Fraser’s Ridge in my Kindle, or really anything mind numbing and brainless …
- each time I felt that pull, I stopped and checked in with myself. And I asked,
WHAT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME? Was it a person I could be talking to? Was it an obligation, a promise? (Those April minutes are still not typed up.) Was it time to pay attention to my dog? Was it time to get outside and take a walk? What would I be pulling away from in the here-and-now by going toward the virtual: my cell phone, my kindle, my computer? Once I answered that one, I knew what to do.
I also learned that one week is not long enough to form a new habit. Someone once told me it took 40 days of daily repetition to form a new habit. That sounds about right to me.
Next week, Carol Bodensteiner joins us for my monthly guest blog. She’s written on Transportation — The Path Between Worlds. I hope you’ll come back and join the conversation.