Mama Needs A Techno Time Out

time out

Ping.

Buzz.

Beep.

Ring!

Chime.

Every day, several bazillion notifications make my phone and computer beckon to me with emergencies. Emails. Messages. Calls. Voicemails. Notifications. Reminders. Constant noise.

The other day someone left me a voicemail, messaged me, then sent, “are you alive?” when I didn’t respond right away.

While I’m sure they were genuinely concerned for my well-being, my well-being is exactly what was being compromised.

Being a Virtual Assistant and working from home has me tied to technology. I work online. Everything I do and produce is done with the help of technology. I have one client who bought all of my hours. I don’t work full time, but he does, and sometimes those full-time/part-time availability hours get muddled into one another. My phone is always with me, and everything on my computer is on my phone, so I get notifications double-time.

This particular morning I was struggling to take care of the kids, the laundry, our home, and my appetite. All of the aforementioned items were a little out of control.

“Are you alive?”

Yes. Yes I am. But I’m not at all living. I’m tied to my phone. My computer. They’re the tools I use most to keep my productivity flowing. And they’re the key devices that absolutely destroy any productivity in my day-to-day.

I had left my phone in the bedroom that morning. The night before it was chiming and buzzing well into the night. When my phone silences notifications, I have to also turn it facedown, else the blinking lights are sure to distract me. I decided to myself as I finally drifted off to sleep, “This technology was made to be run by me. Not the other way around.”

I love technology. I also love my family. And sometimes, well, a lot of the time, the two compete with one another for my attention. When I woke up that next morning, I held fast to my declaration of the night before: Technology was not made to run me.

Mama needs a time out from technology.

So what am I going to do to institute and maintain this Mama Techno Time Out? I’m so glad you asked.

1. Complain about it.

That’s really a tongue-in-cheek step. Because sarcasm is my love language. Had I not become greatly discouraged by the grip technology has on me and the fact I appear available to all outlets at all times, I wouldn’t have come to this fork in the road, however. So maybe complaining about it won’t really work its way into the solution, but it definitely got me thinking about how to implement one.

2. Place A Do Not Contact Order.

I might be the only one who knows about this order, but guess what? I’m the only one that has to know about it in order to implement it. I will, of course, be alerting people who contact me regularly that I have specific office hours during which I can be reached. But during my self-imposed DNC hours, I’m locking my phone and computer in their prisons. Out of sight – out of hand – out of mind.

I will be primarily unavailable during the times my kids need me (which, by scientific evaluations I’ve performed recently, tends to be every single second they’re awake) when they’re home during the week. They have a few days per week where they go to our favorite childcare place in the universe so I can focus whole-heartedly on my work. The other days, however, when it’s not nap time (or “quiet time” as we’ve deemed it now, for the nap-outgrown Little Miss), I’m on mom and wife duty. My kids and this home can’t function if I can’t function, and frankly, running to answer every chime and ding only hinders my productivity.

3. Remember my priorities

I know what I need and love and desire in and about life. Sometimes, though, I need to remind myself. From declaring my priorities, I can design and orchestrate a routine. Deciding what’s most important to me dictates how I need to spend my time. If I don’t know where my priorities lie, I will continue to be overwhelmed by every noise emitting from my electronic devices. I want to be proactive in living the life I’m called to, rather than being reactive to live the life others are calling for me.

4. Follow through

Spending my time before my time has me spent has to be my driving game. Time and again, I need to do what I say I’m going to do. Once I eliminate my distractions and focus on what’s important to me and to the well-being of my entire family, I can plan my time and establish routines. Once those are established, actually spending my time how I say I’m going to is the magic card up my sleeve. Sure, life will happen and things won’t go exactly as planned every day. But I don’t have to get derailed. I can stop my crazy train, repair the track, and get back to it at the next opportunity. I just have to stay on the track. Having to stop while something gets put back together doesn’t have to derail me. Derailment comes by unnecessary dramatic reactions. No. No drama. No derailment. Just follow through.

So mama’s taking a technological time-out on a daily basis. Life is meant to be lived, not lugged through. Dings, buzzes, and chimes aren’t my master.

Remember Who you serve, mamas. Live in a manner that reflects that. Take a time-out if you have to.