Do not disturb

I’ve got quirks and I like them

I do some quirky things that people find “interesting.” Wearing a black v-neck and black pants at the office most days [all so I don’t have to spend energy thinking about what to wear each morning] is one of those things. I enjoy eating 100% dark chocolate. And, my iPhone is on Do Not Disturb all the time… like ALL the time. My phone, mail, and message apps aren’t even located on the dock of my iPhone [for real… they are hidden away in a folder making me swipe left to my second page to access them].

I wrote the article, Interruption by iPhone, detailing all of the ways I set up my phone to not interrupt me, so if you’re interested, it’s all yours. But I wanted to take a moment to expound on this little quirk of mine as to why Do Not Disturb.

Do Not Disturb – the family dinner table

When I was growing up, we would have dinner together as a family most nights. It was a time for us to be with one another and it was not a time to be interrupted. This was an era before there were no cell phones. The closest thing to a cell phone we ever had was the phone card we could put money on to make long distance calls from a “land line” [you remember those?].

Anyway, around the dinner table there was a rule — If the phone rings, don’t answer it. Just “let the machine get it.” Ha! So, for those of you born after the year 2000, voicemail use to be recorded to this little [or large] external box that sat next to your phone [which was attached to the wall, btw]. It’s only job was to play your prerecorded message instructing people to “leave a message after the beep.” AND check this out. When messages were recorded, they were recorded to tape [like… mini cassette tape]. Yeah, for real.

Okay, back to the dinner table

Mom and dad instilled in us the value that even though we had given access, via the telephone, to the outside world, it would be on our terms, when we were ready to receive them. Not whenever anyone wanted to reach us.

Now, we no longer have phones mounted on the walls of our kitchens and we no longer have little tape machines with prerecorded messages for those who call us during dinner. We have even smaller machines that fit into our pockets and give us data port access to the whole world. But with that, these machines have also given the whole world access to us — phone, text, email, facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. And we are just one ping away from anyone in the world who wants to interrupt whatever it is that we are doing.

Do Not Disturb — a way of life

If you’re like me, theres a good chance that life feels full [not bad, just full]. It’s easy to let the schedule get cramped, the grocery budget burst, and bed time to get pushed back again and again. Because of this, I think the concept of personal retreat is important. And also, if you’re like me, you can’t leave your job one week out of every month for a vacation to the mountains to get some time to recharge. That would be great, but that’s not where we’re at. You either? It’s okay… there are other options.

The simple quest in these Do Not Disturb shenanigans is that we have an opportunity here to create little moments of presentness. Presentness with our work and with our creativity. Real connection in full conversation with a friend/spouse. And, we can even be alone with our thoughts… having time for a full thought beginning to end. Do we really want to be at the mercy of our data pad of choice? Though it is kind of a riot when the iPhone, iPad, and iMac all ring at once, tethered together by some mystical and invisible unknown force, showing us how deeply we’ve plunged into the chaos of interruption.

I’ve also tried the whole silent vibrate mode thing. And we’re just kidding ourselves. Talk about interruption. You can hear that stupid thing three rooms over. Anyway… I’m digressing.

So, why Do Not Disturb?

So, when I flip on Do Not Disturb, I’m making room for life. And I know it’s not always that black and white. There are definitely times when we need to be available to take calls or texts, but I would argue that it’s not as often as we think it needs to be. We do ourselves and those around us a disservice when we are always accessible to everyone. Relationships take intentionality. Creativity and work take space. And while our data devices are helpful tools for us to connect and to create, unless we exert some intentional control over them, they will simply be a continual interruption.

Happy silencing!
Phil Rice

PS. If you have any thoughts or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Oh yeah, and if some of these ideas of retreat in real life pique your interest, I have a new Simple Retreat that you may find meaningful.

Jump into the latest Simple Retreat here

“Phil writes like he speaks – with a God-centered, challenging, winsome humility.  He gives permission to reflect on the edge about what it means to be the Church.” — Lance H.