How Email is Taking Over Our Lives & How We Can Stop It

EmailInBed-01

Guilty. Guilty as charged.

This morning Gavin Richardson posted a link to “How Work Email Has Taken Over Our Personal Lives”, which then led me to Clive Thompson’s article “Are You Checking Work Email in Bed? At the Dinner Table? On Vacation?” Both are worth reading.

Of course I’m guilty of this, and from time to time, have tried to find ways to minimize how much time is consumed by email both during the work day and when I’m home. I still try and follow the Inbox Zero approach to email, which I find generally very satisfying, but sometimes can cause me to be a bit neurotic with email: “MUST. GET. INBOX. TO. ZERO. NOW!”

I have downloaded and tried the app Freedom, which cuts your computer’s wifi access out for a set amount of time. I just found that more frustrating than anything, because I would inevitably just restart my computer to stop the program to get on the internet.

I have also set my iPhone to stop automatically downloading email, so it only checks when I open my Mail app on the phone. And that is somewhat helpful, but sometimes it just means that I’m constantly opening the Mail app on my phone.

I get the fact that email has taken over so much of our time and has caused work to intrude, even more, into our time off, vacations, family time, weekends, etc. And while I used to be super excited to get email back in the day, now email has become more of a burden than anything. Merlinn Mann, who created the Inbox Zero method, talks about your email Inbox simply becoming your To-do list that everyone else gets to create for you. So I have my own list of To-dos that I think are important, but I’m constantly balancing that with my Inbox, which everyone else gets to add To-dos to.

Now, add to all of this the often-understood maxim that “Ministry is a 24-hr job.” I know that’s not healthy. I know that’s not sustainable. I know that’s not how we should think about our calling, but it’s hard to shake that little voice in the back of your head saying, “Well…in some ways, I should be available for folks whenever they need me…”

So, my question is – how do we handle email (granted, there is much more to this whole idea of ministry being a 24-hr job than just email, but let’s start there), how do we handle email, so that it isn’t something that is always staring us in the face?

I know that I’ve heard some folks say that they take their work email off of their phones. And I get how that could be helpful. But then when I want to send a work-related email from my phone, I have to go through the bother of signing into my email via an iOS web browser, and that’s just a pain. Or should I just keep my work email account Turned Off in the iPhone settings, and then turn it on if I need to access something or check something?

And add to all of this the fact that ministry isn’t the type of job where you’re just sitting at your desk all day. So, thinking about only checking work-related email on my work computer, which is a desktop and stays in my office, isn’t really going to work when I spend many of my “working hours” during the week around town, meeting up with people, running work-related errands, etc. And it’s in situations like that where having my work email on my phone and with me is super helpful.

I don’t know that there is one right answer, as I’m guessing that it depends a lot on the individual, but I’m wondering if anyone has found something that works for them. What have you done to alleviate, to any degree, the way in which email has become something that we do check at home in bed, at the dinner table, and on vacation?

Alt.Worship: Alive & Well 10 Years Later

Alt-Worship

I haven’t written about it much recently, but over the years, I’ve been involved in creating some alt.worship (alternative worship, emerging worship, interactive worship, etc.) services. It all started with a couple friends in Idaho back in the summer of 2003. I was thinking about that today…it’s been over 10 years since I started putting on these alt.worship services and gatherings.

I did the service in Idaho quite a few times (at the church I worked at, a camp, an Idaho Catholic Youth Convention, and other retreats). I also put on the service at a few other places, including: Princeton Seminary (2005 and again later that year), Princeton University (2006, in the University Chapel no less), Little 5 Points in Atlanta (2007), back at Princeton Seminary (2008), at Asbury UMC (2009), and a smaller variation of it in Ashland.

I put together an alt.worship service this past week at Winnetka Presbyterian Church, and it reminded me just how unique this experiential form of worship still is for so many folks in our churches. I don’t think that what I’m doing is all that original or creative, but people always have such great experiences at these types of services. [Read more...]

Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life

Traci-SmithOne of my seminary colleagues from Princeton, Traci Smith, has recently come out with a book that I think many folks here may find helpful, and I wanted to give her the chance to share with you a little bit about the book. It’s called Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life and it is definitely worth checking out if you have kids and are interested in finding ways to engage with them and their faith. I’ve asked Traci to share a bit below.

Thank you, Adam, for allowing me to stop by your internet home to talk about a project that is very near and dear to me, my new book!

Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life, is based on the simple idea that faith is learned as it’s woven into the fabric of everyday life. The book is divided into three sections: traditions, ceremonies, and spiritual practices. There are about 50 practices in the book for all kinds of situations and families. There are ceremonies for life events like graduations and the birth of a new baby, traditions for holidays and every day, and spiritual practices that range from the very ancient to the very contemporary. Each practice is organized like a recipe in that it is clearly laid out with regard to age and steps to follow

[Read more...]