Boundaries, Unplugging and Jell-O Molds

A couple of weeks ago, I didn’t turn on my computer for the entire weekend while The Boy was here. It was 48 hours of bliss…

Remember the days when work was over at 5 o’clock and your evening was spent with your family and friends, watching TV, having a chat on the phone, and reading? Maybe even taking an evening stroll and very definitely not working again until you got to the office the next morning.

Those were the days…

I live my life online. I’m in the very lucky position of working for a website, which means telecommuting in a way that works with my chronic illness. Most of my other jobs are also either online or reached via my computer. There’s the book, the blog, various social media accounts , numerous email accounts and it can all be done from my office. Said office isn’t in another location, but rather the west half of my bedroom. 

If it wasn’t for grocery shopping, I’d never leave the house. More specifically, I’d never leave my desk.

I do leave my desk occasionally, but thanks to my smart phone, I can update my miscellany of social media accounts wherever I go. Being this connected is a blessing in many ways, but it’s also a curse. When you can work wherever and whenever you want, you are always a work. And that’s just not healthy. In this article about a rather unique Danish phenomenon called arbejdsglaede or “happiness at work,” they describe two of the contributing factors as being reasonable work hours and a generous amount of vacation. In other words, employers recognize that whereas work is important, without balance, you are burning out your employees.

99 Days of Freedom is addressing the extreme degree to which we are plugged in to constant communication by challenging us to give up Facebook for 99 days. Although I might argue that offering up a message board where people can detail their experience defeats the purpose, I think it’s a wonderful idea and would sign up immediately, but for two reasons. 

Social media as part of my job(s). Taking a 3+ months’ break from the place where my community interacts and finds new information is not smart. The second reason is my personal Facebook account. This is where I keep in touch with family and friends. Can I go without Facebook for three months? Absolutely. Can I go without talking to the people I care about for three months? Not so much. Although I suspect that we could find alternate ways of staying in touch…

Someone leapfrogged off this idea and created this graphic

And can I just say? In a heartbeat. I might even pay money to get this degree of peace in my life. Well, provided that an accommodation could be made for my disability and I could keep my computer. It’s where I write, it’s how I read, so I think it’s fair to let me keep it. I could write a book in that time. Or at least a first draft.

What is my point? That’s a good question. After months of a really intense schedule, my brain is Jell-O. There are a number of ideas located within, like pieces of pineapple within a Jell-O mold. They are visible, but you can’t put them together to make a pineapple ring, never mind a coherent argument. Luckily, I’m spending August not working at most of my jobs and therefore not required to have any capacity for thought for the majority of the next 30 days. During which time I hope to get enough perspective to return to work brighteyed and bushytailed and with firm boundaries around when I work.

What can I say… I’m an optimist.

Could you let go of being plugged in for three months? Would you want to?


Wren said…
Yes, I could, but with caveats. I'd need to use my computer for research, work, and writing. But I could live without surfing the Web and using social media (an admission: I barely use social media as it is, since I rarely have anything interesting to say.) So no hardship for me. I'd even go without my caveats if I could still make a living wage each month.

I remember how to use the library and write with pen and paper... ;o)

It's an interesting thought, though. And it would be much healthier to set real boundaries around "work" and "not-work." My problem is that the computer (Internet) has become my main source of entertainment as well as income. I dislike TV, and I'm not a huge movie fan. I love to read, though, and the Web offers an infinite variety of things to read...
Hmmm. I'll keep thinking on this one. Great post, Lene! Enjoy August!
LynnM said…
Even though I say my computer is my source of information, entertainment and social contact, I know when bored or lazy I over-indulge on any or all of the above. Things can wait a day, or more. And I can certainly reduce my time checking things that have just fallen into "habit."

Enjoy unplugging. May your days open up like a piñata.
Anonymous said…
I'm with you Lene. I use social media to keep in contact with family and friends. That is the only draw back to going off line for three months.
I'm not a fan of these all or nothing edicts. (Yes, there is irony in asking to post your results in a forum.)

Like it or not, not much gets done without a computer these days. The trick is to be aware that you are controlling your use, and not the other way around.

Enjoy your sabbatical.