My wife teaches Kindergarten and is on Spring Break this week. Typically we've never done anything special because my vacation days never aligned with hers or we didn't have the money or didn't plan enough in advance or whatever. This time around with me working for myself and us having saved a bit of money we planned a small getaway for the family, a single day at Busch Gardens staying the night in a nearby hotel so we could get a full day in.
Anybody who knows me knows that I have a really bad habit of not being able to "turn off" when it comes to technology. My incessant worry that people are counting on me has lately turned into something of an unhealthy obsession with being connected and responsive at all hours. I've only recently started to see and feel the effects of this more accutely (effects that are felt not just by myself, but by my family I should add). And so as we planned the vacation I mentally prepared myself to turn off. After consulting with Jim I updated our ticketing system to set expectations for the holiday weekend response times. I turned on a vacation message in my email. And most importantly, I set my phone to "Do Not Disturb" so that it would no longer vibrate when new messages and emails came in. I would have turned the phone off completely but expected to use it as a camera so this seemed like the next best option. I planned to keep Do Not Disturb on for the full day and then remove it that evening.
I changed my mind and it's staying on.
You see there are a lot of opinions out there today about how the real savior of the Apple Watch is how it will free us from our phones. No more need to constantly check your phone, just lift up your wrist. Turns out I'd rather not have my attention be held captive by any piece of technology, whether it resides in my pocket, on my wrist, or built into my glasses or walls of my house. Not without a majority stake in that decision at least. Of course I might need to check email, and when I need to that I'll check email. But not when the phone reminds me via the constant buzz in my pocket that something is happening. Not when someone else has decided they need a response ASAP. Only when I actively open the Email application.
In fact Do Not Disturb doesn't go far enough because when I check the time on my phone these notifications still tell me there are things to respond to. My next step is to take that all out. I won't go as far as removing email because there are times I love the ability to work from my phone when I'm in a pinch and need to take care of things. But I want to be in control of that process. The pavlovian conditioning that technology has done to my psyche is something that I'm suddenly finding to be both problematic and entirely unneccesary.