29 May, 2012

Breaking newly gained bad habits

A couple years ago, there were some things people did that really drove me crazy, and that still bother me now with other people, and with myself. Because, I have hypocritically picked up these habits. 
  • Being late.
  • Constantly being on laptops or smartphones while other people are around. 
  • Not responding to e-mails.
I'm sick of these things. I hate it when other people do these things - it makes me upset. Why? They're disrespectful. 

Being late is a lack of consideration for other people's time, and shows a lack of commitment. By not showing up when you are supposed to, you say that you aren't concerned about the host's time, that you aren't committed enough to that relationship to set aside time for them.

Being on laptops and smartphones while other people are around disrespects other people's time and also belittles the purpose of social interaction. If we do not mean to spend time with these other people, then why are we there? What is the point?

Not responding to e-mails is the worst. I feel guilty over it constantly. It is just another step in reducing connections - separating myself from other people. It is worst with people who serially did not respond to my e-mails, but can also be caused by my lack of desire to address something or because of general laziness.

I picked up these habits for a few reasons. All of them are partially in petty response to other people doing them to me. People being perpetually late made me feel undervalued, and it made me feel as though I should stop making the effort to be on time for them - they probably wouldn't be ready in time for me to arrive anyway. Being on laptops and smartphones was often the result of other people being on them - when no one else was making an effort to converse and discussion fell to the wayside, I fell into the trap of hiding behind a screen, too. It was easy, because I felt dismissed, and I feel lonely in company when no one else is interacting or making an effort to interact. It's worst during tabletop games when we're waiting for others to complete tasks, because we want to respect the other player, but it's terrible to default to a lack of social interaction when a large part of the event is to interact. The e-mails thing definitely is in response to other people ignoring my e-mails. I e-mail a lot of my friends and family articles and even legit e-mails regularly, but the only people to reliably respond (within even a 3-4 day window, if at all) are my sister, my mom, my grandmother, and Colleen. Other people may never respond. I know e-mail isn't everyone's favorite mode of conversation, but when we don't see each other for a while and I want to share a large volume of information, sometimes it is nice. 

Another part of reduced e-mail response is a time factor - unless it was important and required an immediate response, I'd dismiss it to get back to later, but sometimes not get back to it.

So, what to do? 

I don't want to be that person who devalues people and is disrespectful because of spite or laziness. Even if my friends don't notice or don't care, there is no reason I should act in a way that would make me feel bad if someone else did it. 

I am going to give myself a goal. I want to stop doing these things. I want to stop doing them as much as I can within 90 days starting from June 1. From June 1 to August 29, I am going to make an active attempt to stop being late, stop ignoring live humans in favor of gadgetry, and respond to e-mails in a timely manner.

First, I will plan better. Try to allot extra time for unexpected events, and stop leaving things until the last minute. I want to utilize my calendars more effectively and try to make a solid effort to arrive on time, or within 5 minutes forward or back. 

Second, I will turn off my phone to spend time with TGW once a week. When I visit my family, I will turn off or at the least mute my phone for 75% or more of my time with them. When I spend time with friends, I will put my phone on vibrate and only check it every 2 hours (barring scheduled phone calls or expected contact from other guests). 

Last, I will start doing a twice-weekly (Wednesday and Saturday) e-mail review to make sure I respond to all of my personal e-mails, even if it is just a "hey, I got this, I will get back to you by x day", and if I promise a response, I will set a reminder to respond by then. I have, right now, set an alert on my Google calendar to remind me (which is synced to my phone - and if I miss it because of a social call, I will just get it when I arrive home those evenings). 

What do you think? Do you think that I can effectively accomplish fixing these bad habits? I am really hoping I can.


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