Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Reflections on interruptions, stress, and craziness

Does anyone else notice how crazy daily existence seems to have become? Can we live more intentionally and transcend at least some of the chaos which seems to reign all around us?

I had a pretty normal day, but it also seems to have been a crazy day and almost a blur. I was supposed to bring a friend over for dinner and I completely forgot about it after work. I continued the fairly long (20+ items) “to do” list that I worked on at the end of last week…. I should have a good feeling of accomplishment– I did, in fact, accomplish quite a few things, but the list never seems to grow any shorter and in fact gets longer and longer many days. The emails increase in number, and it actually would be a positive if more of them were spam, but few are– and most require some sort of action to be taken, so they cannot be dealt with very quickly. This is not a complaint, more of an observation– my life (and I would guess the lives of many others) seem to increasingly be dominated by a multiplicity of interruptions and unrelated demands– email by its very nature lends itself to a very disjointed workflow. I find myself jumping from task to task– the tyranny of the immediate often seems to rule– and escape seems so elusive.

One of the keynote speakers at the eLearning conference I attended in Phoenix last November (Lisa Neal) spoke about a researcher who has published work into this phenomenon of interruptions– how rarely in our day to day lives we seem to find ourselves in a state of “flow” where we become so engrossed in an activity that we lose track of time, we are so engaged / enthralled in the activity of the moment. Rather than “flow,” our lives are dominated by distractions. I seem to remember reading sometime ago, about our lives being “increasingly distanced and distracted”– I think that was from John Naisbitt’s book “High Tech, High Touch” — in a presentation I gave at our state computer conference in 2001 entitled “Remember The Luddites.”

I am generally an enthusiastic advocate for the positive potential of technology to transform our lives in desirable ways. Days like these and musings such as these give me reason to question such optimism, however. As is the case with other competing influences upon our lives, which I have started to articulate in a writing project I’ve entitled “Digital Discipline,” I think we all have a dire need to lead our lives with more discernment and intentionality. Left to it’s own devices, our daily schedules can become a jumbled hodge-podge of appointments, distractions, and to-do list checkboxes. We need time for rest, relaxation, and processing time. We still need recess! Why do we kid ourselves as soon as we get out of elementary school, to think that we don’t need recess any more? Boy I need it. The thought of being able to again play kickball for even 10 or 15 minutes out of the morning with my past 4th grade students sounds so inviting. At times I feel like a slave to my Palm calendar. It is a willing slavery, but a perceptual slavery none-the-less. Perhaps when I finish my doctorate things will change….. but I think that is too distant a goal to wait for. It has helped this year to take at least 10 minutes out of my morning to do a Bible devotional, and I acknowledge that is a step in the right direction, but it is just a step. Additional progress is needed.

I should probably re-read Dr Richard Swenson’s excellent book on “Margin.” I could use some extra.

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