Tuesday 20 August 2019

Switching Off September

So here’s the plan I mentioned here. I can’t guarantee it will add years to our lives, but then, I can’t say it won’t, either.
What if we all decided to switch off our technology at the same time? What if we all had a pact: a realistic deadline where we stopped sending emails etc.at say, 8pm? And to make it easier, we stopped looking at them at 8pm, too. The whole correspondence shebang could start again next morning, of course. We could continue using travel time to answer and send emails perhaps, but with the frisson of excitement that after say, 12 hours of frenzied activity on the networks, it would all then stop. Freeze.
Ok, I realise in this global economy that one woman’s 8pm is another man’s breakfast but we have to start somewhere, huh?
I know it’s only a dream. Some people wouldn’t like it, and it wouldn’t work if everybody didn’t sign up, I suppose. But perhaps if there was a significant groundswell, those who didn’t like the idea might, nonetheless, be open to the concept and accepting of the fact that fewer emails would be landing at night. Hey, they might even start to enjoy it, too.

Enter: Scroll Free September!
#ScrollFreeSeptember, the brainchild of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is about to enter its second year of encouraging people to take a month off social media, or rather, to do less of it. 
The key is to sign up to the option that is most relevant to you, and then sit back and enjoy a time rich September, musing how much calmer life would be if we could keep up this healthier relationship with our phones going forward. I’ve signed up to Night Owl, no surprise there, but have added in my own, ‘Correspondence Curfew’. In short, my Scroll Free September commitment is: Scroll and Email Free Evenings, and I can't wait.   
Day light hours? I’m going to reply to all correspondence as quickly as possible whilst employing a monumental effort not to begin my missive with being sorry for the delay. I shall respond with friendliness and professionalism but I will not, I repeat, not apologise. You see, by apologising, we’re implying we’ve done something wrong. But looking after our health, and not putting (albeit unintentional) burden on other people’s health, is a good thing and should be rejoiced. What I’m hoping is that people will lower their expectations of me.  And in turn, I will lower my expectations of them.
We’ll still love each other.
In fact, maybe we’ll love each other just a tiny bit more now we’re liberated of brain fog and showered in sleep. Will you join me? Will you endeavour to be less responsive, to keep people waiting and smile while you do it? Will you vow not to apologise for a tardy response to communication?  
Oh, this is the most rebellious I've been for a long time.
Perhaps you’re streets ahead of me on this one, already living long and uninterrupted evenings, the phone switched off way more often than it's on? If so, I'd love to hear from you. Tell me how you do it! And how it’s received?
Or maybe late night to-do list ticking is not your particular tipple, but scrolling - and in bed (please, no. Just no!) - is something you know you do but with that slightly nauseous feeling of discomfort I spoke of in my first post. There’s a place for you in Scroll Free September, too😊 More info here.
I think Scroll Free September is a wonderful concept. It focuses much of its attention on the potential benefits to young people – and I know my children are on Instagram until late at night and try as I might, they show no signs of stopping – but I think all ages are guilty of an unhealthy dependence on our phones. 

I’m not preaching. I’m guilty. I just want to live a long and healthy life and I want other people to be alive to do that with me.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Trying to Sleep

I was writing a review of the fantastically fascinating, engaging and entertaining (I liked this book) Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker and realised that as I typed, I had that sludgy, slightly nauseous feeling of discomfort, commonly known as: someone is trying to tell me something.

I’m pushing it on that old sleep thing again. 


Maybe a sequel to Tea & Chemo should be the trials and tribulations of getting enough sleep? Although I fear the book would be very short and very repetitive, here's the blurb: she wants to sleep, she knows she should sleep but she finds it so very difficult to go to bed. And repeat.

The bottom line is, I want it all, but I just can’t squeeze it all in. And the truth is that when I skimp on the sleep, I can.

When I examine my work, it’s the wealth of correspondence which weighs me down. I am always in debt and never, ever get to the bottom of my RSVPs before the next deluge soaks my day.

I remember the headline a year ago about paying employees for correspondence outside of office hours because researchers had discovered that people were spending their travel time to and from work, and more time once they’d got through their own front door, catching up on emails.

No sh** Sherlock.

How many of us have a love/hate relationship with our phone? True, it makes me smile when a message comes in. It's useful always having my camera with me and iPlayer and books on Audible streamed into my hearing aids have accompanied me on many a hot-foot to an appointment. But what started out for all of us as a great use of time as the train transported us to our destination flying through emails, reports, links and 'pre-reading' for tomorrow's meeting just a few short hours away -  has only lengthened our working day. And I don’t like that part one single bit.

Worse, when in the news yesterday we hear that a group of MPs are urging the government to look into the effect of hands-free phoning on our driving, there’s an instant backlash of people saying they can’t manage their job without using the phone in the car. The fact is, we can’t work from the next life, either, and more’s the sobering point, work would seem much less of a priority if we were coping with having killed or injured somebody because we lost concentration at the wheel. 

Nonetheless, the truth is that in the world we live in, some jobs wouldn’t be viable without people being able to communicate from behind the wheel. End of. We have built a society which relies on people working at work, before work, after work and travelling to and from work. And unless this is forced to unilaterally shift, I can’t see that this state of affairs is going to change for the better any time soon, as we continue careering forward in this ever increasingly techno future.

The problem is the speed of it all, isn’t it. I remember the good old days of freelance copywriting, when I had to tootle off to the post office three days before my deadline, with a floppy disk and a hard copy of the writing in question, all packed up ready to trundle off to the destination of my assignment. For the following week, while I awaited its delivery and the typed letter in return, I could Do Something Else.

These days, ticking off the to-do list doesn’t shorten it, does it? Because once we respond, the reply comes back, and quickly, generally, because we’re all caught in the same trap: get it done before it builds up! And so the circle continues. If we are to break the circle, it is going to have to be a conscious decision to snap it.

And what if we did snap it?

I have a plan. A real plan. And it starts in September. It’s not just a plan for me but one for everybody. We have to sign up emotionally and physically, but it’s free.

Join me?

More information in my next post πŸ˜Š

Meanwhile, here’s that review. If you routinely go to bed after midnight and wake only a few small hours later, you need to read this book