Expats probably spend a good deal more time than most people on the internet. Connecting with friends and family back home, searching for local information, translating things etc. We are probably quite expert – ‘Super Users’ in fact. I do nearly everything on the internet now – over Christmas I didn’t even step into a shop and battle with the crowds, I purchased all my gifts online, and herein lies a bit of a trap.
Expats are so vulnerable to what I call the ‘time thief’ of the internet – that ability to get sucked down into the rabbit hole so that something that should have taken us five minutes becomes half an hour. Our monkey brain jumps from one branch to another, page to page, link to link, and we suddenly find ourselves robbed of time. Our brains love this exploration and expansion, but it’s not necessarily what we want for ourselves when we are setting up our life abroad, and let’s face it, we didn’t come here to sit in front of a computer. If we were to add-up all the time we waste on this each year I’m sure we would find it quite shocking.
The Time Thief
International Assignments are not forever. Our time in these countries is so precious (call me for a chat if you don’t feel like this!) and in order to get our lives where we want them, it takes energy, attention and action. For example, I noticed I would log onto Facebook to get a sense of what my friends had been up to that day, and my mind would wander through all the Upworthy feeds (now averaging at about six a day!) and it would be easy to lose a good 30 minutes, and then I’d give myself a hard time. I realised that since New Year I’ve wasted a significant amount of time looking at news items that I can’t actually take action on, no matter how important or shocking they may be. When changing the world, or our lives, for the better we can know so much but unless we take action nothing changes. The knowledge provided by Upworthy makes me anxious – terrible things happen in the world – just read any newspaper. I stopped reading daily newspapers many years ago, so why do I still have bad news delivered to me? Crazy!
The Information Diet
So – I’ve just ‘de-liked’ Upworthy! Am I sticking my head in the sand? Maybe. But here’s the thing. If the universe requires us to take action, and make a difference in the world, there is nothing you or I can do to stop the universe bringing this message to our front door. By hook or by crook the message will be delivered with perfect timing in the perfect way, a bit like you getting this blog post today. I’m letting go of that inner ‘hair vest’ voice that tells me I need to know this stuff. I don’t actually. What I need to do is live my life responsibly, with love, compassion and take action with those people I feel called to be in service to. That’s the small part I play in the world.
Time Thief Detox
Today I unliked Upworthy, last week I went through my inbox and labelled set-up some rules for which folder which emails should be delivered to – I now have only the most important emails coming to me, and my goodness it have saved me time! I only look/respond to my emails twice a day and don’t get the constant worry and interruption from unsolicited incoming mails. I’m on an information diet – a time thief detox, I have more time, my energy levels are up and I feel amazing, look, I even have time to write the blog (she says red faced, knowing full well it’s been a while 😉
So, come on and join me – try this little exercise. For one day (a busy one preferably), set your alarm on your phone or watch to go off every hour. Then make a note of what you are doing and what you did in the past hour. Make a note of all the areas that are ‘time thieves’ or simply inefficient uses of your time. As always, awareness is the first step. Now go through your Facebook, Twitter, Linked In etc and make sure you all the ‘Likes’ are genuine, non-time wasting and make you happy. Do the same with email, set your folders up and rules for the addresses you want to maintain contact with and check the notifications settings on your smartphone. Let’s make this wonderful technology work for US, not the other way round. We have a million distractions in our world, so feel free to remove the ones which are simply not a good use of your time. Your time is precious, you and your mental health are precious so guard yourself and powerfully choose the influences you want to accept into your life. In Expat life, you really don’t have time for anything but the best use of your time.
Rant over, I’m going back to work!
Have fun and enjoy the ride,
PS I am running another Expat group coaching course starting in March 2014 – for those people who really want to kickstart or re-boot their lives abroad. It’s back, improved and updated and I’m really really excited about it! I’d love for you to join me on a Webinar I’ll be running at the start of March, so you can find out more about the programme and what it will do for you. Click on this link to register your details so you’ll get an invitation: