I am constantly distracted by text messages and Facebook and Twitter posts which pop up on my phone.  I stop to look as soon as I see that there is a new message, often looking away from an actual “live” conversation in favor of a virtual one. Even my dogs growl at me when I pick up my phone, they know that I am not fully present when that strange thing is in my hand.  A friend was visiting me last weekend and while at the studio, she observed that I was answering a client’s question and mid sentence, stopped and read and answered a text message and then went back to the customer.  I was mortified when she said this, first of all because I don’t remember doing it and second because I can’t believe that I would be that rude.

Being constantly available can be quite taxing. I have the phones for all the locations of my dance studios, my non-profit and my skin care business routed to my cell phone. That way I do not miss calls and clients are always able to get a live person to answer their questions. The instructors text or call me at all hours to ask for subs, or to say that they are running late. And clients call any time from 5 AM to 10:30PM. Until recently I answered everything, but I have come to realize that most of the clients calling at these odd hours are surprised to get an actual person and had planned to, and would probably rather, leave a message. I now put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” at 9PM and stop answering and checking text messages until 9AM. No one needs to be available that much, I think sometimes it is more of an ego booster to think that I am that important and cannot be out of touch for too long. I went to Africa a few years ago and couldn’t use my phone. I realized how addicted I was to it because I still carried it with me all the time, played games on it and checked it often as though somehow a message or post would magically appear. Nothing too catastrophic happened while I was out of touch, and now I see that it is rather freeing to disconnect.

My daughter and I were at a cafe a few weeks ago and we started watching people who were dining. Three young girls were sitting together at a table and every one of them was engrossed in something on their phones. At another table, there was a family of 4, mother, father and 2 kids all focused on their devices.  I know I have been guilty of this more times than I care to count, but I am trying to disconnect a bit more from the virtual world and join the REAL world.