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Be smart about when to turn it off | Think Like an Editor Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

Be smart about when to turn it off

By · Saturday, June 18th, 2011

It was an interesting morning here.

I had a 10 a.m. appointment for someone to come and take care of an annual lawn issue. He brought with him two young men.

“We’ll make short work of it today,” he told me. “I brought some helpers.”

Good enough. They all got to work.

The next thing I heard was, “If you keep checking your phone, it will be staying home.”

I kind of chuckled to myself, thinking how universal that issue is these days. But I also noticed how the message was delivered:

Staying connected is a given, and it takes willpower and self-discipline to disconnect at appropriate times — just as it takes common sense to know when to make exceptions. A good example happened just yesterday, when a colleague set his phone on the table at the start of a meeting and said, “I’m going to do something I don’t usually do. My 89-year-old mother broke her arm last week, so if the phone rings, I need to answer it.”

We’re in a 24/7 world of news, information, social media and connectivity; there are a lot of positive aspects to that reality. But on the job, at an internship, in the classroom, at certain events, at worship and in meetings, it’s important for us to know when to turn off what’s “out there” so we can focus on people and happenings “right here,” in our present.

Emilie Davis

Comments

I can’t wait for the day when we have devices smart enough to know when a message is important enough to interrupt what we’re doing. It would eliminate the need (compulsion?) to check for messages, since the important ones would chime in as soon as they were received.

 
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