13 weeks ago today my wife and I were experiencing an exciting life event for the very first time: child labor.
Of course my wife was especially experiencing it! As I held her hand and sat with her for hours and hours in that hospital room, all I could think about was making sure she was being comforted so she knew she wasn’t alone.
We were both so excited to meet our son.
But I quickly realized something else was vying for my attention. And it was coming from my front-left pants pocket…
For years I have had push notifications for e-mail on my iPhone. You see, in my line of work you rely on e-mail for important alerts and information so it only makes sense to instantly know when you receive a new message, right?
E-mail had become more than just e-mail, it had become an instant messenger for me between professional peers, customers and friends.
Previously, when something important was happening that needed my attention I would simply put my phone on vibrate. No problem. Now at least no one else would be distracted by the constant alerts coming from my inbox.
But still, the vibrating reminder of potential emergencies would ultimately steal my attention. And subconsciously I would become anxious of what would be waiting for me when I opened that e-mail app.
So sitting there in that hospital room, the decision was easy. Airplane mode wasn’t an option, I needed to be able to call and text family about how we were doing.
I really didn’t even think twice, I just shut off the push notifications.
Following the birth of our beautiful baby boy, I began a two-week stint of paternity leave from work. But amidst all the hype of welcoming him into the world and adjusting to his erratic schedule, I totally forgot about something important.
I forgot to turn push notifications back on.
It wasn’t until three weeks later that I realized they had been off the whole time. Did the world collapse while I was away? Did everything explode without my oversight? To my utter amazement, no.
So I kept them off.
In the weeks that followed I began noticing just how drastically turning off e-mail push notifications was improving my life. I was less distracted about work when I wasn’t at my computer. The prideful notion that Frankie Jarrett was just too important to not know what was happening at every instant was losing its appeal.
And most importantly, I felt more present with my family than I had in years.
But please don’t get me wrong, this may not be a recipe for everyone, but for me, this experience has been an important first step into a long journey of reclaiming a healthy work-life balance.
I still have a long way to go.
Today my son is 13 weeks old, and every time we celebrate another milestone in his little life, I thank God that the days of being chained to my e-mail are getting further and further behind me.