Just Checking

Written by Christine Kane

Just Checking I like to imagine a time back in the 1970’s – or maybe even the 80’s – when the only thing anyone had to check was their mailbox.  That happened only once a day at the same time every day.

Or maybe you checked your baby’s diapers.

Or you checked the inbox on your desk to see if your secretary left one of those pink “While You Were Out” slips in there.

Then… along came answering machines. A nice convenience.  You’d check your answering machine when you got home from the store, or from the office. You would write down the messages and call people back.

The phase of checking only a few minor things – answering machines, mailboxes and diapers (and of course, the financial statements that were in your mail) – lasted all the way til the 90’s when email began.

And then, we started checking email. But only after we logged onto our computers.

And then we got laptops.   A revolution.

Unlike our mailbox or our answering machine we could bring the activity of “checking” along with us.  Now we checked emails and maybe some updates on blogs we had started to subscribe to.

Slowly, a trickle began.   The miniaturization of things we can check – all in the name of convenience – began to fill our pockets, purses, packs and pauses.

Now, we no longer have to sit still. There is always something to check.

Texts

Messages

Chats

Facebook

Pins

Tweets

Voicemail

Stats

Likes

Updates

Shares

Analytics

Opt-ins

Scores

Metrics

Comments

If you’re not careful, checking will consume hours of your day.  Checking has tricked us into thinking it’s an actual activity. And yet, it’s not.

When you are checking, you are not actually completing something.  (When you “check” your email, do you answer it? Or do you let it pile up in your inbox to intimidating proportions?)  You’re merely looking at something.  You are looking for something.  You are always on notice that something – God knows what – might be there.  And regardless of whether or not anything is actually THERE, you are on alert.  And you THINK you are doing something.

But you’re not doing anything.

You are filling space.

You are checking.

{14 comments ... read them below or add one}

Flecks #13 | Live Wonderstruck
January 17, 2014 at 7:48 am

{14 comments ... read them below or add one}

Nneka, Working Mystic January 15, 2014 at 10:48 am

You got me there. I started closing all windows on my laptop except for Word, Notepad, and Excel. I was amazed at the increase in productivity.

[Reply]

Christine Kane Reply:

Nneka – oddly enough, when I wrote this, i started watching my own every move. It’s amazing how this can turn into a knee-jerk existence! Can’t wait to hear what a difference it makes for you!

[Reply]

Martina Wald January 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

you really got me. Thank you for the mirror. :-)

[Reply]

Christine Kane Reply:

you’re welcome martina! :)

[Reply]

seabluelee January 15, 2014 at 11:25 am

“When you are checking, you are not actually completing something.” Ouch. That really hurts, but only because it’s true. Thanks for the reminder.

[Reply]

Christine Kane Reply:

Sea blue – Yeah, it’s a weird thing, isn’t it. We even SAY that we’re not going to do anything. We actually say “I’m going to check my email.” We don’t say, “I”m going to answer some people who have written to me.” :)

[Reply]

Nancy Striniste January 15, 2014 at 11:49 am

My first thought was — “you nailed it Christine!’ and my second thought was– “I ought to post this on Facebook”. Which would of course lead to CHECKING Facebook.
Time for a step back. Thanks!

[Reply]

Christine Springer January 15, 2014 at 1:12 pm

This was an excellent reminder! I have noticed that I have a harder time not “checking” (really doing nothing) on days that I feel busier or more frazzled….somehow checking my email or FB seems like it would give me more control. And yet it doesn’t….it only makes me feel more frazzled. Time to re-commit to making technology my B&TCH and not the other way around :)

[Reply]

Wendy Pitts Reeves January 15, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I always keep my phone on vibrate, so that I don’t even hear it most of the time and will return calls when I’m ready. And if it’s near me on a table or desk, I turn it face down so I don’t see it light up. I don’t open a FB window until and unless I’m ready to spend that time working there – and that’s way more about my business than anything else. All in all, I think I do a decent job of managing this.

Or I did anyway.

And then I found Pinterest. Okay. THAT one sneaks up on me. One glance can turn into an hour wasted… So I have to measure it out like chocolate – just a bite or two at a time!

[Reply]

Michelle January 15, 2014 at 4:29 pm

This is a constant challenge for me. I have been making a concerted effort to stay on top of deleting messages to reduce clutter, particularly as I have moved into this new year. I have kept an eye toward removing myself from lists that I don’t need to be on, and I have a long habit of making sure I don’t inadvertently sign up for new ones. I try to plow through the messages I have, take whatever action I choose to, and then move on. Still, it takes so much time to stay on top of that. My words of the year are clarity and manifest. I am summoning all the clarity I can to help me decide quickly when to delete and let go of what I don’t need to keep. My goal is to keep making more space to manifest the things I want more of.

I consider it part of my job as a musician to check in on conversations as a way to build my fan base, credibility, and presence in the community. I’m also a very social person by nature. The challenge is to find ways to keep it in it’s place and not let it take over.

[Reply]

Don Downs January 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Excellent article!

I especially love the question, When you “check” your email, do you answer it? Or do you let it pile up in your inbox to intimidating proportions?” I honestly believe that checking your email all the time makes you more prone to letting it pile up. That’s due in part to a tendency to just check back to where you left off last time… forgetting that “last time” (and umpteen times before that) you left a lot of mails in your Inbox that still need to be processed.

Ooh… and i just realized that I read and responded to this article because I was “checking” email while waiting at the Apple store. Ouch.

(OTOH, reading your blog is a productive activity, right?)

[Reply]

Gloria January 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I still don’t own a cell phone or a lap top or an ipad because I haven’t figured out a good reason to constantly be available and checking whatever it is people constantly check. I do like checking in on Wednesday’s and reading your posts though CK.

[Reply]

Ariana January 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Thank you so much for the timely support. This has been top of mind and my “media diet” since the New Year. Also had to go deeper and see the “not enough” parts that are sure they will miss the one, single piece of information that I am lacking that I need to be completely successful. Well that’s old childhood stuff rearing its head. Acknowledge, release, recommit:)

[Reply]

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