Tied to the Computer

photo courtesy of freefoto.comThe other day in yoga my instructor commented that she'd finally had a chance to check her e-mail. "It's been almost 3 weeks!" she said with a "what-can-you-do" smile. "I just haven't had a chance to get to the computer."

The very idea of not sitting down in front of my computer for anything over a 12-hour time period sends cold chills down my spine. Yet I'm envious of those who don't feel the need to spend their lives tethered to a small, transportable box. I would like to lessen the pull my laptop has on my life. My need to be constantly checking, updating, sending is a creature of my own making, yet one I have no idea how to banish. 

I'm a bit concerned over how ties to the Internet affect our brains. I've read articles that say for all our multi-tasking skills, our society actually has far fewer focusing skills than generations past. If it can't be dealt with in under a minute, we have a hard time wrapping our brains around it. 

I grew alarmed last night when in the middle of watching a movie I had the sudden urge to go check my e-mail. No real reason. It was 9 o'clock at night, I wasn't expecting an e-mail on any certain topic, but I literally had to make myself stay in my seat and not go into my office "just to see" what might have arrived. 

Houston, we have a problem. 

Personally, I think I check e-mail so often from a fear of "getting behind." I'd rather see what pops up that I can deal with now versus having my workday potentially crowded with a number of small details I could have attended to last night or over the weekend. But this is backwards logic. If I set aside certain hours in a week where I deal with, for example, e-mails and "to-do's" for the Animal Protection Society, I'd be more centered and, I'm convinced, more productive, than dealing with each and every little e-mail as it comes in.

Same thing with all the alerts and blog posts and newsletters I receive. I read these out of a sense of duty more than interest. But how often do I use the material? Not too often. Yet I fear if I delete them the next e-zine will contain that one big idea I've been looking for. 

As a nation, I think we're looking to simplify and I feel the same pull in my life. I don't expect to ever go 3 weeks without a computer, but I'd like to flip the switch at the end of the day and be done with it. 

Blair and I have done very well with our TV cutting goal. Perhaps a little less computer time is next?