Do Not Disturb

As an introvert, down time is very important to me. I need quiet and/or alone time to recharge from expending social energy. The amount of time depends on the situations I’ve been in lately – large, boisterous groups of people who all want to talk drain me more than large groups where I can be relatively anonymous. Smaller groups of people I know closely don’t drain me nearly as much.

This isn’t anything new. People have talked about this frequently. But today I realized for the first time that this can extend to electronic communication too.

We had lots of people over to our house this weekend to celebrate Friendsgiving, which is exactly what it sounds like: Thanksgiving with friends. It was a great time with great food and lots of laughs and celebration. Since I knew nearly everyone, I didn’t think it was going to be as exhausting as it was. Even after a good night’s sleep, my attitude this morning was very poor. I chalked it up to other things until the many text messages I was getting had me tempted to send some not-so-nice responses. That’s when I realized that I needed to unplug.

In response to BlogHer’s prompt from November 19, unplugging isn’t something I usually plan consciously. I don’t deliberately schedule down time. I do try to ignore work email in the evenings and on weekends, usually because I’m working a second or third job, or I’m busy doing something else that doesn’t really give me time to work, but even if I’m free, I try not to respond. Responding to work email during what is supposed to be down time just trains people that you are available and will respond. If it’s important, I’ll respond. But otherwise, I’ll wait to regular business hours.

Personal communications are another matter. I try to respond immediately because if something is marked as read, I’ll forget to respond altogether which leads people to believe that I’m ignoring them when in reality I forgot that I owed them a response. If I’ve done that to you, don’t take it personally.

Usually, people don’t text or call me very often. A few text messages a day are about normal for me. It seemed that everyone decided this morning was a great time to text me and I had my fill.

A very deep thank you to whoever at Apple decided the Do Not Disturb function on the iPhone was important. That is a life saver! When I arrived at the library for work today, I gratefully decided to put everything on hold. I ignored my life for four hours; completely unplugged from everything but shelving books and listening to an audio book. What a difference that made! First, my shift seemed to fly by when I wasn’t trying to figure out plans for the evening or work out issues in my head. Second, my attitude improved significantly because I wasn’t brooding over things I couldn’t change or feeling guilty over my reactions or responses. And finally, when I got off of work, I was ready to play nicely.

While I may not do so regularly, I’m thinking a little pre-planned down time is in my future. I’ve learned the importance of unplugging and just letting myself be for a little while.

What about you? Do you unplug from the world occasionally?

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