Experiment 4- No notifications, no problem
The importance of technological boundaries- learnt the hard way!
I have a very pragmatic approach to technology of any kind. I love the fact my family and friends can contact me. I love the fact that I can create resources for work. I love the fact that so much information and entertainment is available so quickly. But I do keep it to a minimum. The only notifications I now have, are on my phone and are for texts and personal email.
The creation of these technological boundaries come from some experience. Last year I had a role at work with more managerial responsibilities. I made sure I could access my work email from my phone. This did me no good at all: it allowed me to check my work email too easily, and the boundaries between work and home became eroded. Why? I would check emails too often, then feel I needed to act on each request or piece of information as and when I saw them. The more I did this, the more people expected that I would respond quickly. I felt good as I felt on top of it all - Wasn't I an efficient manager of my team? Wasn't I committed? Won't I be praised?
This worked for a while, but was totally unsustainable (therefore not evidence of efficiency, commitment and certainly not praiseworthy!). I learnt that I was so present with my work emails and work life, that I was more and more absent with my home life, my own personal development. Many people are able to create those boundaries, be in control of their technological dialogues: I congratulate them. For me it became too invasive. I knew I shouldn't be checking, but habitually did. These lack of boundaries eventually meant I didn't sleep, I didn't switch off and I resented my job.
I am not going to preach at anyone about their use of technology. I realise there are many advantages, for example I am loving reading many of the stimulating blogs and articles on Life Labs! Nevertheless, I am happier with a smaller technological world. I check my phone at key points in the day. It lives in my bag or in the kitchen. When I started my new role in my new school in September, work email notifications on my phone did not join me and I try not to check them on my work laptop after 7.30 pm. If there is an emergency people can contact me on my mobile or landline.
So this experiment? I knew it would not cause a wrench, but it did encourage me to reflect. I think a year ago this would have been much harder - my 'career' ego wouldn't have been so flexible, it would have made me very anxious at not being immediately responsive. I am grateful for the fact my family and friends can contact me if needed; I am not grateful that my children are part of a generation who may find it impossible to create the boundaries that I have.
I would encourage everyone to try this experiment. We regularly evaluate our human relationships, so why not the relationship with the devices that often take up more of our time than that given to those around us?