Productivity and Living an Epic Life
When is the last time you watched the sunrise? It is such an amazing experience to watch the Master Artisan spray His graffiti of joy upon the sky and reveal to our heart His vast horizon of hope! How about you?
Today we seem to be in such a rush as we accelerate our lives to stay ahead of the avalanche of duties and responsibilities.
When do we take the time to watch the rain drip into a puddle or to walk outside and listen to the creek bubble on its way?
Savoring the Sip
Notifications hang like a fishbone in our coffee-coated throats as we attempt to swallow life whole without taking time to savor the sip.
We eagerly engage with our online audience while ignoring the children sitting at our feet watching us laugh at the likes and emojis spinning past our stream. Their eyes eagerly gleam for the day they can have their own “precious” to which they can sacrifice everything of worth like a modern Gollum.
Recently, I watched the sunrise. If you look closely enough in this picture in the Smoky Mountains, you can see that the trees are budding. We sat on the back porch and watched the bud burst as some trees torpedoed their leaves and blooms into the sunshine. You could see it happening.
For me, nature seems to be the opposite of social media. It restores. It refills. It renews. And we reconnect as a family when we turn off social media and head outside.
But it takes more than nature these days. It means saying “no” to everybody “out there” so you can successfully savor the relationships “in here.”
So, this spring break, I removed every social media app and email off my “smartphone” and made it go dumb and mute.
Lately, I’m not finding my phone to be smart at all. It interrupts me for the most pointless of reasons. So, recently, I’ve been grounding it to a place deep in my pocketbook so I can get meaningful work done. Staying glued to my “smart phone” is actually pretty dumb, in my experience.
Note: In case you didn’t know, when you delete an app, this is not the same as deleting an account. The only problem I’ve seen with this approach is for those who forget their password and inadvertently set up a new account as if they re-download the app and set it up again.
Avoiding the Excesses That Can Ruin You
As I stumbled through our cabin at 5 am, instead of opening Facebook as I awoke, I faced “the Book” – my new chronological-archaeological Bible and realized that truly there is nothing new under the sun. Intrigued by Ecclesiastes 7:16,
“So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? “
Kip, my husband, and I started discussing and digging.
Too good? This verse doesn’t mean not to be good. Some other translations say “Be not righteous over much” or “Don’t destroy yourself by being too good or acting too smart.”
I believe that this is talking about excess. Not truly “being” good but acting “too good” – for your own good and that of others.
I know of some people who try to tell their friends what shows or movies they can and can’t watch.
Some people are overly “good” about the food they eat and are quite demanding that others agree with them. Others are overly “good” about their workout schedule and if you don’t work out an hour a day, you’re no good to them. You can be overly good with your religiosity, athleticism, or any other area of life, I suppose. I just watched an old Alan Alda movie called “the White Mile” where he is an adult bully who runs an ad agency and pushes these grown men to go rafting even when they don’t want to — and quite a few of them die. These “good” people exist trying to take their decisions and make them yours. Don’t fall for it.
I’m not sure I’d know but I’m sure in my life I’ve acted like a goody-goody. Most of us have.
Nowadays, I don’t feel overly good at anything except just looking at life and being thankful God put me here and uses me sometimes to do good.
I’d rather do something good than think I’m too good for something.
Too wise? Some people are so incredibly knowledgeable! And yes, we need knowledgeable people. But I think the verse is talking about the person who may know a lot but perhaps thinks they know it ALL.
Some people think because they know one subject so deeply that they are somehow an authority on everything else. This is why we have actors trying to tell everyone how to vote and we have business people trying to fix education.
Money in the bank does not always translate to sense in the head.
Fame does not always mean you deserve it.
This statement of being “too wise” is true particularly if you’re moving out of your field of expertise. (Listen to Harvard Business Review’s recent podcast on “Avoiding the Expertise Trap” for information on the research supporting this argument.)
Why would I quote these verses? Well, I think just as you could be “too righteous” or “too smart” perhaps there is such a thing as being “TOO CONNECTED.”
For example, I know some folks who always email back within seconds seem like some sort of Pavlovian inbox watcher salivating for the next email they need to answer. While some people have a job to answer email, most of us have a job to which email is our form of “correspondence.”
Just as the great authors would read their correspondence once or twice a day – a twice-daily amount of email checking suits me. (Note that I have set up that if my husband, children, or a family member or my headmaster messages me that it notifies me on my watch – some folks are worth the interruption!)
Did I miss social media during spring break?
So, I spent a few days with no social media.
My eyes ah-googling the elegant sunrise, ears enjoying the auditory delight of avian chirrups, nose discovering the delight of aromatic espresso, my feet ambulating through antique stores, and my arms rowing my river raft down the Nantahala.
You know what? I didn’t miss social media. Not one tweet.
What did we find unto these hills as we nestled away from the online barrage of likes, shares, and tags?
Laughter. Music. Books. Conversation.
Back in social media but with limits.
I don’t plan to go back to my old ways. Now, I’m reading Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport. (On my trip home, I had read his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World and it has changed how I work.) I’m also reading Productivity for Indie Authors and several other books that talk about using social media instead of letting it use us.
Add to all of this conversation the spread of bad things. Right now our “local” news media is sharing stories of abuse, harm, evil, and sick things from around the country via their Facebook feed as if it is local news. I unfollowed. As a parent told me the other day on an unrelated matter, “I ain’t got time for that.” If you want to get sick, go to the doctor’s office. If you want to feel sick, go on social media and see what the news or political pundits are sharing. I’d rather read my news another way!
So, after going app-less for a week. Here’s where I stand.
Sharing on social media. Yes.
Engaging with real people on social media. Yes.
Do I want to be notified of everything? No.
Likes or ❤️ . No.
Direct messages. Yes.
Comments and conversations. Only when I go in the app.
Social media should make us better, stronger, more informed, more stable, encouraged, and give us what we need to be a better person if it is worth the time we spend. But if my screentime report is truly right, I’ve got a whole lot of time I could use for other things that will bring more meaning to life.
The question is — do you?