Skype is doing a new thing. It sends me email alerts when someone leaves a voice mail message on my office phone. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I have 4 email accounts, 2 laptops, a desktop, a Blackberry, an Ipod touch and a Skype phone. I am wired into a variety of devices.
Now, being "wired" is pretty convenient in a lot ways. Running my own business means I need to be informed. So if I am out of the office for the day, it's handy to be notified via my Blackberry that I have an important email incoming, an SMS or a voice mail pending. But here is how this generally works out.
I'm in a 2 hour meeting and when I get back to my car and check my phone there are 27-35 notifications!! I have email, sms, Skype alerts, missed calls, voice mails, and Facebook notifications. I turn on my Ipod and guess what? I have 27-35 notifications. I have email, RSS feeds, Skype and Facebook notifications. Much of this is redundant. I read the things that are necessary and delete the things that aren't. I get back to my office and... Everything is blinking! I receive the emails on my desktop which removes the copy from the server for my permanent files, check the phone messages, post the blog comments, check the Facebook crap. Good Lord... even the High School sends me voice mail messages and email notifications regarding snow days and vacation schedules for my son. I have no idea how long, during the course of the day and night, I spend responding to notifications of some sort or another. How many hours does this take out of my day? I'm betting over the course of a month there is some pretty significant time involved here.
Two weeks ago I was interviewing photographer Jody Dole (who is fantastic BTW...look for my article on him in the April Edition of INK.) We got to talking about distractions. Jody pointed out that since moving to Connecticut from New York City, the distraction portion of his day has significantly increased. While in NYC, if he wanted lunch he could have it delivered. If there were errands to be run, there were messengers to do that. Here in Connecticut, if you need something mailed... YOU go to the post office. Want lunch? YOU go make it. Need office supplies? YOU go to Staples. Of course, this means if you leave the office you'll have 27 notifications on your Blackberry.
Despite our best intentions on being conscientious hardworking entrepreneurs, there comes a point when we need to be just regular disconnected people. When can we go to the grocery store without talking on the phone while we pile milk and bread into our shopping carts. There are times when we NEED to be with family and friends uninterrupted. Of course, we can turn all the technology off. I wonder if we can? And even if we do, when we turn it back on... there will be 27 notifications waiting for us.