Let me ask you a question: How soon after this newsletter arrived in your inbox did you open it? Studies suggest as many as 70 percent of emails are read AND responded to within six seconds of their arrival. In tracking the open rate of previous newsletters, I can attest to the fact that most of you open these emails within an hour of receiving them. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE that you find these missives worthy of timely attention, but I'm asking you to do me a favor: please stop and ask yourself, Do I really need to read this RIGHT NOW?
We live in a hyper connected world, and in many ways, this is a wonderful thing. Families who live far apart can see and interact with one another on a daily basis; friends who have lost touch over the years can connect and catch up as though no time has passed; and we can access any elusive fact or research a burning question within seconds.
But constant connection also has its downsides. When is the last time you spent an afternoon with a friend that wasn't interrupted at some point by an email or text that "needed" an immediate response? When is the last time you focused your full attention on a work assignment or personal project without being distracted by an incoming text or facebook notification? When is the last time you were successful in accomplishing the goals on your list rather than allowing your day to be derailed by endless responses to other people's agendas?
Despite taking steps to reduce my own reliance on email and social media in recent years, I continue to find myself sliding down that slippery slope of checking for "just one more thing" and losing precious hours of presence with the ones I love. So last month, I decided to do something about it.
During August, I challenged myself to take a real break. I unplugged for one entire week (!) and significantly curtailed my online availability the rest of the month. In doing so, I made some key observations that helped me shift my behaviors and be more present.