Good day, team,

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much time I spend on my computer. Is it four hours a day or more? I know it’s the first thing I do when I get to my office in the morning: log on, get my e-mail, and then I’m in for however long it takes me to sift through the messages and respond appropriately. Next is usually a coaching session on the phone or in person and then back to the computer.

I try hard not to use the computer when I’m on the phone, but sometimes I need to look up something we’re discussing and sometimes I make a few notes. Since I really don’t like to hear people typing while they’re on the phone with me, I try to be respectful in return.

Sometimes I just seem to hang out on my computer. You know how it is: You’re in that blank space, staring at your screen (like staring into space) and just sort of surfing around with no particular aim in mind. It’s comforting in a vacuous way, but I find that I often feel guilty if too much time goes by, the way I do when I watch stupid stuff on TV.

I have to set up rules about my computer so I don’t spend too much time on it.  When I do, my neck starts to hurt, and that’s my wake up call to get up and move away from the machine. I also try not to work on my computer at night. Once I’ve left my office, I leave it behind. But there are still times when hours pass as my fingers move across the keyboard.

I read a letter to the editor on this topic in one of my favorite magazines, “The Sun,” this week. Laura Rachinsky of Norwalk, Connecticut, writes

“The Internet is a useful tool, a means to an end, whether you are in search of esoterica or airline reservations. When society begins to view the Internet as an end unto itself, however, we sacrifice our humanity. As Nicholas Carr says, we lose our capacity for introspection and contemplation and even endanger the quality of our interpersonal relationships. We deprive ourselves of all sensory input save for what’s displayed on the two-dimensional monitor.

“Though I enjoy my computer, I will never surrender my books. Reading is a sensory experience: the solidity of a hardcover or the suppleness of a paperback; the friction of fingertips on pulpy pages; the smell of ink and paper.”

I can relate to what Ms. Rachinsky has written. My computer is very useful, but it has its limitations. One of my greatest joys in life is reading a great book, and the nicer the book, the better the experience. I particularly appreciate the pace of reading and how my mind chooses to contemplate what I read at its own speed.

Your challenge this week is to observe how much time you spend on your computer and experiment with changing your online habits. See if you have resorted to using it for many other things you used to do without a computer, like looking up recipes in a cookbook or reading the newspaper. Are you regularly sending friends a message on Facebook instead of calling them on the phone or going to see them? Try limiting the amount of time you spend on your computer or, at the very least, try adding other methods of communication to your day so the computer is not your only source of interaction.

Computers are, after all, machines, and I find that if I spend most of my day interacting chiefly with a machine, I feel rather empty when the day is done. I marvel at their many uses and the wealth of information they make available to me in a nanosecond, but I second Ms. Rachinsky, who concluded her letter by asking, “Who ever curled up on a rainy day with a good computer?”

Have a good week,


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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