You can have information, or you can have a life. But you can’t have both.
When I first started my job way back in 1998, we didn’t have external e-mail or Internet access. The other day a friend tweeted that she receives 25 e-mails an hour on a typical work day.
Every time I open Twitter, I have around 200 tweets to catch up on. Half of those contain links to newspaper articles, YouTube videos, or other sites.
My iPhone has become my constant companion. Any time I have to wait even 60 seconds for something, I instinctively reach into my pocket to check the weather, update my NY Times app, check Facebook statuses, or scan the Huffington Post. I regularly check my pocket to make sure it’s there. It feels dangerously close to an addiction. I love the device, but sometimes I dream about throwing it into the canal.
I’m an information junkie, but I’m beginning to think it’s time to turn off the supply. Ultimately, I don’t need to know how Bristol Palin did on DWTS, or where Aziz Ansari is having dinner tonight. I’m pretty sure I can stand in line at the grocery store for three minutes without checking the status of Derek Jeter’s contract negotiations. The world will not end if I don’t know the name of the movie what’s-his-name was in with that other guy.
I can’t go cold turkey, but I have started to take a few baby steps.
1. Don’t take the iPhone to bed. If I need to read something, there are still things called books that contain lots of interesting words and stories.
2. Don’t check e-mail after work or on weekends. There’s nothing I can do about an angry e-mail at 9:00 am on a Sunday morning that can’t wait until Monday morning.
3. Move the Mail folder off the iPhone’s home screen. Seeing that unread message number every time I turn on the phone isn’t helpful.
4. Leave the iPhone at home sometimes. Amazingly, it is possible to leave the house without it.