Last week I wrote a post about the "Tyranny of Now"--the always-on society we live in and how we're pressured to monitor and respond to it 24/7. I got a lot of great advice and comments on it that deserve to be elevated to a post.
Ken Allen suggested that dealing with multiple demands on your attention is a little like playing tennis:
I raised this in conversation recently - the 'nowness' as you coined it though I didn't call it that - and someone said glibly that it's just like playing tennis, "you return the ball from which ever direction it comes, that's the skill."
But it's more than just that.
It's more like playing tennis with several players, all of them on the other side of the net, and all serving with a different ball.
For a satisfactory return that leads to something useful, one has to simply ignore certain serves, and find ways of doing this. It's not easy.
That way, however, you have prioritised your interactions, for you are in control.
Use whatever means, when necessary, to freeze that incoming ball in mid air while you deal with the previous one, otherwise you end up missing both.
Ken Stewart reminded me that there's a difference between immediate and urgent:
I must say there is a difference between immediate and urgent. This phenomenon seems to underscore 2 very fundamental oversights:
1) Lack of planning
2) Lack of respect for other people
I work in a customer service business - a very high tough company. Many of us work in service - of some sort or another, and each of us have varying degrees of pressure we face. I do acknowledge this fact.
Past this, someone else's poor planning should not become my emergency. It sometimes does, but I have learned to build that need to my day.
As I read through your post, I found myself tensing up, unconsciously even - recoiling from the on-slaught of this "Tyranny of Now". My 2 cents would simply be that we must each determine where our boundaries are, and in so doing - establish rules of engagement so as not to allow others to rob us of our sanity, of our calm, and of ourselves.
Catherine Lombardozzi offered additional advice:
#1 - Sunday night is off limits. I have found that I have gone from my work week, to a busy weekend working on my faculty and other professional commitments, and left no time for taking a deep breath. I've tried to commit to after dinner on Sunday as time to sit by the fire and read, or to reflect in my journal. It's worked wonders on my sense of calm when I've actually stuck with that plan... so I intend to make it permanent and immutable.
#2 Cut back. - In 2008, I asked my employer for a 30-hour work week and was stunned and blessed when they said yes. I took a pay cut, but wow, what a difference it has made!! Now I can work a steady job, teach some evenings, and still have time for friends and family.
#3 Schedule time and set time limits. - I admit that I love to get lost in blogs and reading news on the internet (like now, for example)... so when I'm really busy, I set myself time limits. In an upcoming experiment, I plan to set aside specific time for reading and responding to blogs... I find that by doing it as part of my daily routine, I don't have time to comment and so it gets away from me. I'm hoping by setting time, I can better retain what I'm getting out of reading them rather than let them blow by. Most posts aren't time-sensitive anyway.
Kim McCollum shared her tips, which are very similar to the strategies I've been using lately:
And Virginia Yonkers offered one final bit of advice:
Great ideas from everyone--thank you! Any you would add?