Last month I attended a blogging conference in Chicago with my friend, Jen, who is also a writer and blogger. The event was called “Bloggy Boot Camp” organized by hosts Tiffany and Fran. The blogging gurus also lined up several interesting speakers.
Jen and I were a bit spoiled that day - a good 12-hours with no kids, no meals to cook (and three meals prepared by someone else,) no requests for snacks or to play Angry Birds on our electronic devices and we had our own personal drivers.
Her husband drove us there and my husband picked us up to spare us the aggravation of driving to the Hyatt Regency, dealing with parking and paying the equivalent of a month’s utility bill to park for the day. Should I, by some slim chance, ever win the lottery and become stinkin’ rich, I’m hiring a driver. I could get used to that for sure.
Anyway, back to the conference. Among all the valuable notes I took that day, one important thing I walked away with was the advice from Tiffany on making sure that you take time to turn off and be shut down from work. Any writer or blogger knows that it's difficult when you're not punching a 9 to 5 clock. You have the flexibility of working at home at your convenience, but you also have that burden of feeling like you have to work whenever you have a bit of unoccupied time.
You could be easily working 24/7. Truly, you need to set boundaries and stick with them so that you don't find your work overshadowing your family. For Tiffany, she said it was at her son's baseball games where work was completely off limits. She didn't even bring her phone to games.
For the past three years or so I have been bugging my husband about switching our mobile phone service so that I can get an iPhone. I’ve been getting by with a Samsung Intensity with the qwerty keyboard, which was pretty cool when I first got it. At first he didn't really see the need and saw it as a luxury that didn't justify the expense. However, in the past few years there have been so many times I have said I wished I had a smart phone and I've convinced him of the value in it.
It would really come in handy in so many situations and most of them work related. There are times it really would have made life easier if I'd had Google at my fingertips. There have been times I have been away from home and really needed to access an e-mail. I hate when I'm at a media event where everyone is snapping photos with their phones and tweeting them and I'm lugging my big Nikon around then downloading the photos hours later so I can post them. I feel so behind the times and feel like I'm being so inefficient. If I had the smart phone, I could be so much more productive, I reason.
When we were at the conference and on the topic of balancing things and setting certain times when work is off the radar, I realized how much harder that would be with a smart phone. When I'm at home I spend a lot of time at my desktop. It is nice to turn it off and leave the room or head out the door and not have to worry about what I left behind on the computer. It's nice that I might spend those few extra minutes in the car reading a few pages in a book or having a conversation with one of the boys, whereas if I'd had a smart phone in my hand, I would have likely spent that time updating a Facebook status. Heck, at that conference I'd brought my iPad and the hotel had Wi-Fi and I admit I zoned out a couple times during the presentations and sat there checking e-mails.
When I go somewhere with the kids now, I am focused on them. If I had a smart phone, I'm pretty sure I'd be interrupted often by e-mails and alerts and they'd be cheated out of that time. I have a hard time shutting off work when I'm at home. I'd hate to have that tool of a smart phone taking away more time from my family. As much as it kills me sometimes not to have that technology, I am thankful right now that I don't. It gives me that breather that I need and keeps me off the computer, e-mail, Facebook, etc. for a while.
I don't think I want to give that up. So, instead of leaping to get a “smart” phone, I’m thinking the dumb phone might not be so bad after all. I'm not saying it won't happen eventually, but that constant urge to upgrade has lessened and I'm grateful for the times when I'm not connected to everyone else and only to them.