I am so guilty of this busyness in business. I walk into the office each morning without a clear understanding of what the day will hold, what I must accomplish. My inbox often becomes my to-do list. It is constantly filling and I am constantly battling to keep that number of unread messages to at least double digits. Some days I hit zero, but I know it’s a fleeting victory. It is a constant battle and I am losing every day.
Last week I had a meeting in my office. Halfway through the meeting I realized we weren’t accomplishing much. I looked around and noticed that every single person in the meeting was staring at their screen, typing away furiously, cell phones at their sides, occasionally buzzing and beeping. I asked everyone what they thought of what I had just said and not a single person was able to give me a quality response. I looked at my own computer screen and realized I was guilty too. We are under the belief that we can remain present in the moment, in what is happening around us, while half of our brain is wrapped up in our virtual conversations.
We’re trying to cram more and more into every single minute, every single second. If we can be present in a meeting, half listening occasionally, and also answering emails and texts, well then, we are really getting so much done…Or are we? If we are giving half of ourselves to the present moment, to actual conversations happening between people, and half of ourselves to our technology, to virtual conversations, are we really giving our entire selves to anything? Are we actually doing anything to the best of our ability? The obvious answer is that we are not. We are accomplishing more, we are accomplishing quantity, but we are not accomplishing quality. We are not living and producing and creating quality. The speed at which we could complete things, could have wrapped up this meeting, would impress us truly if we would fully dedicate all of ourselves to the present moment and the task at hand. But we are addicted to doing so much at once. We are caught up in the swirl of the world around us, the incoming emails that we believe must be answered at once, the text messages that must be sent immediately. We are slaves to the constant influx of requests, fooled into thinking that we must respond now. We must. Otherwise we will drown. Our inbox will pile up. Our text messages will amount to too many. No one actually calls anyone anymore, otherwise our voicemail would get out of control as well. We are constantly replying, responding, hitting send, typing furiously, texting, emailing, skyping. And what’s on Facebook, what’s on Instagram, Twitter – who must we respond to immediately to stay relevant? We believe it’s everyone. Every single message. Hitting send before we complete an entire thought. Rushing to fill someone else’s inbox, to remove the burden from us and shovel it over to someone else, anyone else. Removing our to-dos. Temporarily emptying. But we know it will return.