Turning off the devices

During a partners’ meeting yesterday, we all got in trouble with each other for checking e-mail, etc during our meeting. I am bad at this. And it has only gotten worse since we closed the fund and started meeting companies a lot. E-mails/ work keep coming in.  It is all too tempting to try and get some of them out of the way while you do other things. And the rise of the iPhone and iPad has only made this worse for me. Everything I need to access online is available wherever I am.

I thought about why it is that I have a hard time just ‘be present’. Why I give in and check online. Two factors: Scheduling and habit. On the scheduling side, I need to schedule my days so that I know I have one or two dedicated blocks to deal with e-mails, voicemails, etc. The habit issue is harder to crack.

In our turbo-charged, multi-tasking World, our brains are used to going full tilt. So, in a meeting, especially when you are mostly listening (which I now spend a lot of my time doing), I have found it hard to slow down my brain and really focus on just what is being said. I knew there was a lot of tasks waiting. Many of them time sensitive. So, I would try and bang them out.

With all this in mind, I took my boy to his swimming class this morning and vowed to leave my phone in my pocket. As I watched him swim and glanced around the pool, so many parents had their head buried in their devices. It was a sad sight. Is that what I look like? Is that how I engage with the World around me?

That really drove the point home for me. So, I am vowing now to my family, my partners and the entrepreneurs we meet that I will be present. Work will continue to come in probably faster and faster as our portfolio grows over time. So, I will need to be very good at carving out blocks for work and blocks for meetings. And at home, I will need to create distinct times for work vs. continually floating in and out of work and family stuff.

I have made public promises before, like when I swore off Foursquare only to check back in again recently. In that case it was just to see if I was missing anything (I’m not). Being present and focused is going to be much harder. I’m going to need some help on that one.  But I am committing publicly today to give it a shot.