The lovely Joanna Lumley was recently interviewed on the Jonathan Ross Show and she said something that was exactly what I’ve been thinking and saying a lot recently.
We have become a society where we’re fortunate enough to have technology at our fingertips and be able to respond to issues as soon as possible. This is great for people like me who run their own business but it seems each year there is something new that we ‘must have’ or ‘must use’ to seem ‘with it’ or show how professional our business is.
Let’s think of mobile smartphones for example, just a few years ago we were lucky if our phones did more than receive/make calls and send/receive texts. Slowly we got into being able to send and receive emails if we had a Blackberry, but that was mostly business related. Now the majority of us have a smartphone of some description where we can access all of our email addresses (and if you’re like me you have more than one), the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and every other social networking site under the sun. Not to mention an app for anything and everything!
I am very guilty of being one of these people.
So I thought have I simply just become a slave to the technology? And rather than me managing it it’s now managing me – and I really didn’t like this idea.
Twitter is a wonderful platform in many ways, and it has the definite benefit of breaking news, a great source of information and networking. However, it seems that some people seem almost scared of tuning out of it in case they miss a small something – nothing that is life or death. There are also those others who feel the need to share each and every thought and action and really don’t seem to give their minds time to digest and mull over thoughts in a quiet way.
I often hear from people who say that their sleep was disturbed because some inconsiderate someone sent an email/text/WhatsApp/Tweet at some unsociable hour of the night. My response to that is alway – why was your phone on at that time of the night? Why not switch it off or at least put it on mute. If it’s an alarm clock then turn off the wifi and calls. I always switch my phone and wifi off before I go to sleep (though not necessarily when I’m first in bed) and don’t turn it on before 9am unless it’s an exceptional circumstance. Some think that’s nuts as I run my own business but the thing I remind them is that the business is not 24/7 and that it’s more productive if I’m not totally wired all the time by being a slave to my phone.
I spend a large part of my day in clinics treating clients, during which time I have no access to phone or computer. Outside of the clinics I spend my time responding to all voicemails, texts, emails and social media messages – plus sending out my own business social media messages as well as standard business admin. And then I fit in eating, sleeping, showering and if I’m lucky, exercise. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or night – so it seemed that a smartphone was my rescue as I could do a lot of this away from my desk when I’m on a bus or train – and guiltily even in bed! Now before all of this, pre-smart phone, I spent my hours commuting and before bed reading a book, cooking or something unrelated to work. So what happened to my downtime?
My mind and my body started to suffer, and without even realising it I automatically adjusted my time. Some of you may have noticed that I’m not on Twitter or Facebook as much as I used to be (maybe you didn’t notice at all!) but this was not a conscious decision it just happened. And do you know what, I actually became more productive with the time I did spend on work and enjoyed my downtime even more without feeling guilty. I still use social media, but don’t put myself under the pressure of having to check it every hour. Emails are responded to as are voicemails.
This is what Joanna Lumley said on the show when asked why she isn’t on Twitter:
“I need time in my own head. People need time to cruise. Time to just be vacant. Time to just sit on a train not doing anything but just starring out of the window. But if everyone’s listening to stuff or writing stuff or seeing stuff you become a reactive person not a proactive person because you don’t have time to think of your own thoughts.”
This statement really struck a chord with me when I heard it. It’s true, I used to spend train journeys just sitting and not doing anything other than being with my own thoughts – no music, no books, no phone, no laptop. It was my time in my head gathering myself, and I loved it!
Many of my clients get this time when they come for a treatment with me. That’s their hour or so to themselves, without distractions. And they value it even more so now due to this constant bombardment of our senses all the time. Life in London is busy, active, boisterous and fun! However, it’s important to allow time out every day. This can be meditating, yoga, reflexology, massage, cooking, painting or cooking (or anything else where you give your mind a rest).
I am trying to regain this balance in my life. Running my own business combined with marketing and admin demands can be a constant challenge of trying to make sure that I plug out and still have ‘me time’ but I’m slowly getting there. So, I have decided to become a more proactive person!
What about you – are you reactive person or a proactive person?