I've had a subscription to audible for about four years now. I originally signed up because I did a lot of driving and I felt like all of those hours were a waste just listening to the same four songs on the radio. It was before I had an iPod, so I used this neat little USB listening device and a cassette adapter.
Every month, I get to download two audio books, and this month one of my choices was Elsewhere, USA. I've been listening to it whenever I have a chance to go for a quick walk or when driving home from dropping the kids off. I'm not sure where I heard of the book, probably NPR, but I really didn't know what it was about. About 10 minutes into my walk on the first day, I stopped in my tracks, looked around with concern and said "Where are you? Come out of the bushes! I know you are following me because THIS BOOK IS ABOUT ME." Well, not exactly. But pretty dang close. The idea of the book is that we are never present in the moment- our minds are always moving on to the next thing.
The thing I hate about audiobooks is that I don't have the text in front of me to make a direct quote- but the idea that struck a personal chord was that professionals with young children enter into flexible or home office work arrangements because it gives them more room to manage their families. But it also means that there is no clear division between work and not work. We wind up working all the time... never going to bed without checking email one last time, reading email with one eye open after turning off the blackberry alarm in the morning...
I'm not sure the book offers any solutions (we haven't had many nice walking days), but I know that I've taken notice of this phenomenon in my life and I'm working on some strategies to make some more clear divisions and be totally present.
One simple thing is wearing a watch. This sounds silly, but when I wear I watch, I find that I look at my blackberry a whole lot less. If I can avoid looking at my blackberry, I won't get that adrenaline buildup that comes when you see an email that "will just take a second" to respond to. That email can wait. Especially at 6PM on Saturday night.
So my goals for the week are to keep going for walks while wearing a watch. Leave the blackberry at home for 45 minutes and find some non-business books to listen to at audible.