Tuesday, July 16, 2013

auto-delete all email

My life has offered me an opportunity to go off the digital grid for an extended period of time; five weeks, or 36 days to be exact. On July 27th I fly to Calgary to join my Family as we move from Vancouver, BC to St. John's NL. On August 31st I arrive in St. John's to start a new life adventure.

How I define off the digital grid:
  • No social media - No Google+, No facebook, No linkedIn, No Twitter! Essentially, I never open a browser on any device. I will post a status update to my being off the grid, so people know to contact me on or after September 1st.
  • No email -I will not check my email ever, on any device. I will set-up an out of the office notice, and I'm going one step further; I will auto-delete all my incoming email.
  • No browsing - The only reason I will ever open a browser is to research travel details, book accommodations, or to get further information regarding a site we will be visiting. If I need to leave contact details with a booking or something, I will use my cell phone number.
Why I am auto-deleting my email?

Because I don't think there is anything so important that could be in an email. Most important information in my life is face to face or a voice conversation. But why auto-delete and not read my email when I am back on-line? Because its the past... its forever gone. If something matters to someone so much and it can't wait a few weeks, they can call me or send me a text. I also want not to have a a massive email box to go through at the beginning of September, and I don't want the possibility of thinking about the build-up of email and think about getting a jump on emptying the email box at any point in my vacation.

The morning we departed Bowen Island
I believe this gets into a conversation about mindfulness and being present. As I grow older I find that being present within a situation provides the most success for everyone involved. What I mean by present is I am not distracted by tasks and/or information from another context or situation.This holds true for when I am with my children, being with my spouse or family, when I am at work, and just going through my day. So really, why should I be concerned about an email that was sent a few weeks back. In a way, all email is spam.

What is my fear? Well not really...

That I will miss an email that is really important. If it is important they can call me or send a text. What about a work opportunity or a life opportunity that I will regret having missed. Honestly, I don't believe that these kind of opportunities come from a single unsolicited email. If it is important, it needs to be important to all involved, and therefore the others involved will honour my vacation and get back to me in September. If the opportunity is gone, then it wasn't an opportunity that would have interested me.

What is my preparation?

The two weeks leading up to my going off-line I will make status updates across all my social media, so people know of my being unresponsive. And if they want to contact me before my departure they are given an opportunity.

Why am I doing this?

Because I have five weeks with my wife and children, and I want to enjoy every moment. I don't want to find myself wondering off into some other context or perceived obligation. I don't want to be distracted by something other than exploring the amazing country of Canada, every moment. I don't want to miss something in my immediate proximity by an information thread from somewhere else. I also want to read a few paperback books... which has eluded me over the last while. I want to play in the immediate and enjoy all that my five senses have to offer. I believe all this will be more available without a digital connection to my past or my future.

3 comments:

patman said...

Hi Peter,

I think that is great what you are doing. I read something recently to help you with your digital sign off for the next 5 weeks. The article suggested changing all of your social media profile pictures to an icon stating that you will be totally off line until whatever your return date.

Enjoy the peace and the beauty of Canada!

Peter Rawsthorne said...

Patman, What a great idea! I will find a greyed out headshot and overlay "offline until Sept 2nd"
Be Well...

michael said...

I completely understand your rationale, and hope you are thoroughly enjoying and appreciating your time off the grid.

But, what may be utterly trivial and in the past to you might be of some importance to someone trying to contact you.

I do hope that your current email will remain usable after Sept. 2nd.

Best,

Michael Olneck
olneck@education.wisc.edu