Find Your Flow: My Digital Guilt Trip


I love reading work productivity blogs and articles.  You know the stuff I’m talking about – the “5 things successful people do every morning” or the “top apps for productivity at work and happiness at home.”  They all basically say the same thing: get up really early, use your highest energy time of the day for the highest priority projects, make time for self-care.  That kind of stuff.  I’ve been wanting to respond to some of these productivity hacks and insights for a while – thus my “Find Your Flow” heading.

One of the most common refrains I read in these articles is the idea that work/life balance is no longer attainable, and that we’ve entered a new reality we call “work/life integration.”  With the advent of the internet and smart phones, we can and do take our work with us everywhere we go.  The idea is that you can’t really turn off work, so you might as well stop trying and find ways to integrate the two together.

One response to the integration is to fight back.  Create clear boundaries and rules and push back on the encroachment.  I was listening to a podcast recently with the designer of the Light Phone, and the idea struck me as brilliant.  Basically, it’s a phone that only has old-school phone capabilities (as in, to call and talk to someone) that has calls forwarded from your smart phone.  No texting.  No internet.  Just phone calls.  Then there are the phone lockboxes, where you put your phone in a box with a timer that keeps you from accessing your phone for a specific amount of time.  How far down the rabbit hole must I be to think these are good ideas, to say nothing of actually spending money to buy these things?

Is this madness to anyone else out there?

So basically, my phone is an ongoing guilt trip.  For example, I’ve been somewhat religiously logging calories using an app on my phone for about 5 months.  I’ve lost nearly 20 lbs.  In terms of weight loss, for me, it’s a strategy that works.  Yet just a few days ago my wife mentioned how annoying it is that during or after every meal I take out my phone to log my food.  I’m annoyed by it too.  It’s distracting and cuts me off from the conversation and the people around me.  But it works.

Some research is starting to suggest that just having the phone out – even if you aren’t using it – can have negative effects on interpersonal conversations.  It’s like a constant reminder of “hey, I’m really into this conversation as long as someone or something more important doesn’t come up on this phone that I’ve conveniently placed on the table between us.”

I guess it’s all a part of a big social experiment that we can’t seem to escape, or at least I can’t seem to.


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