Reducing distractions one blinking light, beep and notification at a time

I love technology.  I always have and I make no apologies for it.  I embrace it and try to utilize it in a way that makes me more productive. (Google Tasks and Google Calendar are a lifesaver. You have no idea.)

But there are times when technology takes over and my phone  becomes an additional appendage. Over spring break last week, I realized I had a limited amount of time to get a lot done.  I had a lot of cleaning to do and I had to make up for a lot of lost time.  In the midst of all the cleaning/reorganizing/moving furniture, we realized that one of our dogs had been using our family room as a bathroom–our carpeted family room.

Now that was fun.

By the time we figured it out, my break was almost over, so I had to get a lot of scrubbing done downstairs and finish up my homework before going back to school Monday. While I was cleaning, I purposely left my cell phone upstairs so I wouldn’t be distracted by it.  I decided to no longer keep my laptop in the living room.  It has a new home on my newly cleaned desk and gets put back at the end of the day.  Junk mail got shredded in the new shredder.

Things got done and the phone wasn’t attached to my hip.  What a concept.

What I learned last week–and it IS so obvious–is that even though it’s great to always be available, it’s ok to not be, too.  If something important is going on, I’m going to check my phone.  However, it’s not always necessary to have my phone in front of me, anxiously watching for its next notification.  It’s also not necessary to check Facebook and Twitter quite as much.  I tend to check Facebook and Twitter when I am bored but cannot take on something new and time-consuming (like standing in a hallway waiting to go into class or last night when I was stirring dinner but couldn’t really move from the stove).

It’s only been a few days, but the more I have my phone away from me, the more I get tasks done.

We definitely live in a society where people are attached and dependent on technology, but  it’s not always healthy.  I’ve had professors go nuts on classes due to the phones being used in class and I don’t blame them for their frustration at all. (And then you have me, the mother who could get a call from the school about a sick kid, who silences the phone and puts it in my bag during class.)  The girl who sits next to me in my class this morning was alternating between her Blackberry and her laptop during class–and she only opened the document for her notes occasionally.  She was on Facebook and Twitter a lot and I wanted to say, “Honey, I’ve seen your grades.  You might want to pay attention.”

I have too much going on right now, and while the phone is great and I’d be lost without it completely, it’s time to ease up on it.  It’s ok to tell someone, “I’ll check it tomorrow” so more time sensitive tasks can be accomplished now.

Making a dream a reality

Do you remember what sparked major life changes in YOUR life?  I remember what prompted me to sign up for an online dating website–the one I met my husband through.  I remember what prompted us to sell our condo and buy our house.  That’s a call I will never forget.  I was parked at my youngest son’s preschool, waiting for the door to open. (We were always early due to drop-off at the oldest’s school.)  My husband called me and said, “So I was thinking while I was in the shower this morning that it is time to sell the condo and buy a house.”  WHAT???  That was in April 2009.  The market was bad and I never expected that we’d be able to sell.  We were going to lose money and how much had yet to be determined.  But we sold and bought a house and by September, we were in a house that I still love and never want to leave.

Sometimes crazy thoughts spark an idea so wonderful that you just have to act on it. Sometimes it takes a while to make those dreams and ideas realities.

When I met my husband, I had been widowed for about 14 months or so.  I was 29 years old, with a 15-month-old and a 3-year-old.  I was ready to date so I joined an online dating site.  I figured it would make it easier to let prospective dates know I had children.  After all, not every single person is ready for that.  We were a package deal and that information was more easily disclosed online than in a bar, a setting that was NEVER going to work for me.  I’m too quiet and reserved in a setting like that.  I got flustered easily–I liked the idea of being able to initially communicate with someone with the backspace button available to me.

Because M and I met online, we have countless emails and messages from those days.  I was looking for a file on my computer today and found some of those early messages. Back then, I was taking one class, a required art class, at another college in hopes to slowly get my degree.  I was explaining that to M in a message and said I didn’t know what I was going to eventually declare as my major.  On October 5, 2005  I wrote, “I don’t know what I want to do.  I am only taking intro to art to satisfy a GER requirement-I have to satisfy a literature, lab science, an art, and philosophy and art was it this semester.  I used to want to be a teacher (I was originally a French major with a minor in secondary ed) and I love being with children, but I just don’t know if that’s for me.  I am going to look into communications as a possibility.  We’ll see….”

“We’ll see.”  How many of our decisions start out with “We’ll see”?

I remember thinking about Communications then because I had enjoyed working with the alumni office at my high school when I planned my 10th reunion the year before.  I remember thinking that if I ever wanted to do something like that, a Communications degree seemed like a logical choice.

I ended up taking a philosophy class the next semester but had to put college off after that due to scheduling, finances, etc.  But the spark was there then, and when I made the big decision last year to return to school full-time this school year, I didn’t really question what I was going to do.

I finally had the chance to make that dream, that “We’ll see”, a reality.


Did you know the maid left us?

She did…back in September.  She left for another gig and in her place, we got a part-time less adequate woman.  This less adequate woman isn’t available to clean as often, and consequently, the house isn’t as clean as it was before I went back to school.  The old maid reappears occasionally, but often times she has her head buried in books and just isn’t as available.  The new girl just doesn’t cut it.

Fortunately, the old maid has some vacation time from her new gig in a week or so, so the house should get cleaned a bit better than it has, but my goodness, this place needs to be decluttered.

I think we’ll have her back for the summer, but in September, she’s gone again.  It will be a vicious cycle.

Have you ever felt like people don’t get you or don’t understand the place you are at?

That’s where I am some days.

I am a busy person and it’s a type of busy that some people just don’t understand.  When I tell people I go to school full-time, I don’t think some realize that I am either in class or doing homework all day while the boys are in school.  I have hours of homework every week, plus work to do for a public relations campaign, which translates to a lot of work to be done above and beyond the hours I am physically on campus.

Add in that I have two children, two dogs, a house, laundry, and a husband who is gone almost 60 hours per week.  My kids also have multiple activities and appointments each week.

(One of my professors yesterday asked me how I do it all and how I’ve managed to do so well when I have so much going on.  I told her I have no idea. I just do it.)

However, it’s frustrating when trying to make appointments or arrange things with business people because, unless I mapped out a typical day for you, it might seem like I have a lot of downtime each day, especially if I only have two or three classes that day.

This is also tough because it’s easy to feel disconnected from friends and family because some people don’t seem to know when to try to get in touch with me.  I do the best I can on my end, but I’ve heard a lot since September, “I never see you anymore” or “I never know when is a good time to call you back”.  Just call.  Or text.  Or email.  I will get back to you.  I know texting and emailing can seem impersonal, but it’s better than nothing.

I think the transition to always being available as a stay-at-home mom to going to school is different than if I’d gone back to work full-time working a regular schedule.  I don’t have a regular schedule.  It changes constantly and there are often changes from week to week, particularly when it comes to the homework load I have or the kids’ activities.

I realize this is something I’ve chosen and many days I feel empowered by what I am doing.  Other times I get frustrated by what falls through the cracks, especially when I feel misunderstood.