What are the mortal enemies of boundaries?
You’re in the middle of prepping dinner and the cell phone rings. Odds are it’s not a call related to your activity. Now you’re multitasking, possibly straining your neck to hold the phone between your ear and shoulder, and answering some question that could easily be answered another time.
Or you decide to use your cell phone alarm to signal the end of your meditation session. That’s great, except you forgot to silence the phone, and now the ringing has completely disrupted your awareness.
We all know how it happens, right? You log into email at work in the morning, and as soon as you’re deep into that spreadsheet, the inbox dings to let you know you’ve gotten mail. And even if you ignore it, your concentration is interrupted. Not to mention all the CC and BCC going on in email. Half the time you don’t need to be on a CC of any kind, so now you’re wasting your precious time on something you aren’t responsible for – a boundary violation.
Next you’re standing in line at the movie theater and pull up your email to check your ticket confirmation, but then you get distracted by three other urgent matters that someone emailed you about and the movie is totally ruined as you worry about those issues.
As a writer, I occasionally go to the Internet to check a fact. And then, suddenly, it’s two hours later and I’m posting a 500 word essay on Facebook in response to an article about pole dancing cats.
I’m sure one day scientists will explain exactly why the Internet has the seductive ability to suck time away from us, but until then, it’s enough to know that it will.
I’m not anti-technology, I swear, but these three things create an expectation of accessibility that really challenge a person who is trying to set boundaries based on priorities and time management. We expect people to answer cell phones, answer emails, answer Facebook messages instantly. And yet how can we set any effective time boundaries if we allow ourselves to be electronically available 24/7?
We all know what to do. Don’t just silence the cell phone – turn it off. Disconnect your Internet router when you need to work on your home computer but don’t need the Internet. Keep your email program closed unless you are actively sending emails. Be aware of how constant accessibility affects your boundaries, and then be proactive in choosing when you will and won’t be available.