I’m Not a Luddite, But… Part 2

Yesterday I ranted a bit about the rapid pace of changing computer technology. Much as I love this box, there is a downside beyond obsolescence – there is the curse of dominance. When we rely so much on technology, it’s easy to let it dominate our day-to-day activities.

When I had clients on the East Coast, I would get up before 6am, make myself a cup of coffee and sit down at the computer to read my email (because of the time difference I couldn’t help feeling behind from the moment I woke up). I started my days relating first to technology and it became a habit I grew to resent. Ultimately, in the course of rebuilding my business, I decided no day would start with me working at a computer. Nowadays, my mornings start with caring for my spouse and my dog, a latte and the newspaper, breakfast, maybe a little tidying up of the previous day’s messes, watering the garden – then I sit down to check my email, post to this blog, tackle the day’s work. It’s a much kinder, much more human entry into the day – and I’ve yet to resent it. I am better for it, so I know my work is better for it.

As discussed a couple weeks ago, finding the combination of activities that sustains you is hugely important. And the ratio of technology to other things is different for everyone. My husband, for example, needs and enjoys a lot more computer time than I do. I’m happiest when that is balanced with time in the studio, gardening and nature, reading books actually printed on paper, walking the dog, cooking, and so forth. I’ve no problem with turning off my cell phone, shutting down email, or otherwise caving to expectations of constant availability. I don’t try to keep up with the latest thing the moment it arrives on the market. I know my place in the river – and, as I said, it’s not in the middle of the whitewater torrent of changing technology. It, in fact, turns out to be much closer to the edge of the water than I would have thought even a few years ago.

My current challenge is that most of what I need to do to achieve my aims involves work at the computer and I am feeling the lack of proportion. So I am faced with a decision: adjust my time-line or, well, suck it up for awhile? The latter is very tempting, but ultimately is a case of what I call “false discipline” – it’s just trying to force the round peg of my true nature into the square hole of a “should.” Temptation aside, there’s no denying it’s an unrealistic option. I’ve already rebelled against myself spending an entire unscheduled day in the studio (fun and productive) and otherwise dithering around (neither fun nor productive). “Sucking it up” is not a sustainable choice. It’s not even producing good work in the short term. So adjusting my time-line in combination with a more creative approach to getting the work done (something as simple as taking my laptop to a park or coffeehouse, for example) is clearly the better option. Perhaps I should think of it as giving myself a little raft to help me stay afloat while I need to be in the deeper part of the river…

Current computer and internet technology makes my chosen livelihood possible – and for that I embrace it with enthusiasm and gratitude. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Just the right amount is fantastic, but too much turns the blessing inside out.

* * * * * * * * * *

Where do you like to be in the technology river? What place is most enjoyable and productive for you? How do you know when technology is interfering rather than aiding your work? What do you do about it?


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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



© 2008 Cairene MacDonald, Third Hand Works. All Rights Reserved.

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