During sessions of The Workroom, I’ve watched people grapple with habits that interfere with their prime work time. While encouraging them, I remained convinced myself (classic denial) that I could “look quickly” at email (in case something needed attention) during my best work time. I was kidding myself, of course. If something is pressing, there are telephones and texts.
I like the communicating benefit of email a lot, but for me it opens a sinkhole, caving in the shimmer of fragile thought supporting creative work. If I pretended I could look quickly – I also pretended that I could answer quickly, check this website, read this blog here, comment there, pay a bill, make a plane reservation. I responded to the computer’s Pavlovian dings, allowing random interruptions all morning. But I didn’t seem to notice the energy required to respond – not to mention the time.
I think this habit grew incrementally. My good-natured husband, who is not addicted, not so “connected,” can’t believe it took me so long to admit what had happened to my precious mornings. So all during May, when I’ve been happily working, it’s largely been because of a self-vow taken: no email till one p.m. at the earliest.
Who knows what makes people finally grapple with bad habits? The young writer and I are always going on about the Internet enticement problem (in emails to each other!), and she’s successfully used limiting methods. And the mother of my young friend really made me think when she apologized for being out of touch, saying she was trying to stay away from email and use what little morning time she had for her real work.
It’s hard to express how luxurious it’s been to give this work a few uninterrupted hours. The liberated feeling is enormous. I love to finally look at email after one o’clock, (and most often it is after two). It isn’t discipline so much as substituting a big hit later in the day for a morning of random reinforcement.
So whatever happens with the three-kitty saga, it’s been a gift and an awakening to have this safe work time. During the morning, in tenuous work mode, when I ask what’s next? The answer can only be – something in support of “Friends for Frances.”
Thank you Frances and friends!