VIRGINIA LUCAS HART

Cawfee Talk

adviceVirginia HartComment

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 ^^^ I love how they give you a Toblerone morsel at Cafe Lalo (finally went!) with your coffee. ^^^

Happy Wednesday, guys. Mind if I ramble for a bit?

As I look ahead to our Mexican honeymoon in two months, one of the things that excites me outside of all the obvious reasons is knowing that no one will expect to hear from me. I have full permission to not reply to anyone except my husband (weird!) who will be next to me and the kind people at the resort asking if I would like another pina colada (Sí, señor). I won't need to respond to emails or texts and I won't even need to read them. I won't even need my phone nearby. I won't even need it ON. The sad part? That sounds so foreign. Honestly, when was the last time you turned your phone off on purpose? Did a flight attendant ask you to? Exactly.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between being proactive and reactive. It's not about whether or not you're ambitious and a go-getter, but if you spend the majority of the day reacting to how it happens around you or if you tune out that noise and focus on your actual work and whatever it is you're trying to accomplish. I'm completely at fault for thinking I need to respond to people quickly whether it's work or personal. (Part of that is being an assistant for so long, I realize.) But I'll get replies from prospective clients for my business who will say, "Gosh...thanks for replying so quickly!" ...and while sure, that's a good thing for them, is that necessarily good for me? No. It means I'm spending too much time being reactive.  It won't kill them to have to wait a few hours, a day, a week, (or two even!) to hear from me if I'm engrossed in my work.

I think it's also hard to reset those habits because people have expectations and notice a change. It's tricky! If you're someone who always responds immediately and then all of a sudden you don't, people start to worry. My mother has been known to reach out to Patrick or my friends if it's been more than a few hours since I've responded. And that's no one's fault but my own... that's the precedent I've set for myself. And heck, I'm at fault for wondering if my friends have fallen into a ditch if I reach out and don't hear back after a bit. So I have to question, why are we putting so much pressure on others & ourselves to be available 24/7?! Why do we apologize if we get busy with our lives? We say, "Sorry - busy day - just seeing this." With emails, texting, Facetime, SnapChat, tweeting, Facebook commenting, Facebook messaging, Instagram commenting, "liking", etc. there are countless ways to reach people these days and I swear, I think it's tiring us all out. Trust me, I LOVE social media and being connected, but is it preventing us from being as productive as previous generations? I bet so. Once you start thinking about just how connected we all are, it can truthfully feel a little stifling. We should be able to "check out" without anyone noticing that we're just enjoying whatever it is we're doing...ya know, living. People shouldn't question why we haven't been posting on whatever platform quite as much. And in terms of replying to people, it shouldn't require a honeymoon to receive a permission slip of getting out the requirement of being "on call."

In addition to shifting my night owl habits, I've also decided to add more structure to when I read/respond to emails, limiting that time. I'm actually pretty good about staying on top of my inbox, but in trying to identify my own habits, I've realized I check my email immediately when I wake up and right before I go to bed. Ugh, I'm so annoyed at myself. If I check my email first thing and there's various inquiries, that's all I can think about while I'm getting ready. Why am I reading it if I can't respond then? It's just unnecessary mind clutter. For example...when I was selling more on my Etsy shop (I've taken a hiatus, but will be back soon - wink! - and will share more about that and other changes at some point), I noticed I received the majority of the emails from shoppers laaate at night so it'd be the first thing I'd see when I'd wake up and I felt conflicted about focusing on getting ready/starting my day however I planned to and wanting to stop and answer their non-urgent email. (That's another thing -- unless you're saving lives, are any emails technically urgent? No. )

When I am working on custom jobs, there is a ton of back-and-forth involved as part of the design process and as I gear up to take on more of the same, I think this will allow me to still have adequate time for the core work. For example! If I declare,  "between 10 and 11am, I will focus on tackling my inbox" rather than just spending my day reacting to it as it happens (i.e. responding as the messages come in), I can tune out some of the noise and have more control of what I'm able to accomplish in a given day. I think if our generation approaches our days more proactively (and if we give ourselves and others a break on how quickly we reply to the various forms of communication), we'll notice a productive shift.  Does that make any sense? Does anyone else find themselves wanting to strike a new balance and regain focus? Do you feel pressure to quickly reply to any alerts on your phone? Do you need to "check out", too? Let's all take a honeymoon ~