What the ‘beep’! - What’s demanding your attention and energy?
Updated: May 24
I have noticed lately that there are more and more things in my life that go beep. Cell phone text – beep, fridge – beep, email – beep, stove – beep, electric toothbrush – beep, door chime – beep, Whatsapp - beep, humidifier – beep, dehumidifier – beep, truck – beep, dryer – beep, washer – beep, smoke alarm – beep, microwave – beep, dishwasher – beep, my dog’s tracking device – beep….. like what the beep!
Is there never a moment's peace from these infernal beeps?
It seems the more my life goes on the more things are beeping at me for attention. Answer a call, change the fridge filter, respond to an email (or 10), reset the time on the stove, charge the toothbrush, check the video on the doorbell camera, fill the humidifier, empty the dehumidifier, get oil change, empty the dryer, empty the washer, change the battery on the
smoke detector (or in my case dinner is done), what did I put in the microwave anyway?? What is that infernal beeping from the dishwasher even mean, and where the heck has that dog gone now?
Needless to say each of these and the many other beeps in our lives have a message and meaning. Some beeps remind us of things like loads of laundry awaiting our attention. Other beeps like our emails, texts and phone calls keep us connected. Still other beeps like our truck maintenance reminders prompt us to complete certain tasks. While still other beeps like doorbells and smoke detectors alert us of activity or even danger. None the less the barrage of beeps demanding our attention seems to be constantly increasing.
The breaking point for me was my new (and much longed for) dishwasher. It beeps. Like I don’t mean it just beeps when a cycle is done. It beeps for all kinds of reasons I am unable to figure out. I have read the manual. I have googled. Still the darn thing beeps. It beeps at regular intervals pretty much day and night. I have finally concluded that it wants me to shut its master power switch off to conserve energy.
My dishwasher is beeping to alert me to turn it off to conserve energy!
The infernal beeping that cost me so much time and energy to figure out is actually about conserving energy!
But what about me? What about my energy?
Where is the beep in my motherboard that tells me I should turn off to conserve energy?
And what are the energy costs to me of all these other beeps and their demands on my time and attention?
Hmmmmm. Considering how many emails (from multiple accounts), texts (from multiple numbers), alerts (from multiple communications mediums), alarms (from multiple appliances), reminders and warnings and on and on...... I think I should have a beep for energy conservation too.
Why is there no beep that says low fuel, warning, danger, conserve energy now, for me?
When I finally notice the warning lights on my proverbial dashboard are lit up it is usually too late. By that point I am either running on fumes, or dead tired sitting in a heap wondering what is beeping at me from somewhere in my house.
We have become conditioned to not only ignore our own energy conservation needs, but also to respond immediately to the beep of other things that demand our attention.
My brain is always on alert for that next beep and what it requires of me. There is really no moment in the day when there isn’t something somewhere about to beep me into action.
Once, at a conference, we were asked to check our smartphones and see how many apps we had open and running.
I had 18.
The top audience member had 34.
That is 34 things in their phone just running in the background preparing to beep at them and demand their attention.
The presenter then asked us to just close them all one by one and see if any of them were truly critical or just things we had opened and never thought to close.
Most of mine were just that, opened and habitually left open. Ready to beep at me and demand my attention, time, and most importantly energy.
So what if we all just took a minute to consider how many things that demand our attention are really worthy of our time and energy? How many of the beeps that intrude into our worlds could we literally just shut off as non-critical and be just fine? What would that look like in terms of energy savings for ourselves.
What would it be like to not reset the stove clock when the power goes off and on again? After all I live in the country and power fluctuations are a pretty regular event.
What it be like to not refill the humidifier right away? After all I really only run it to coax my recalcitrant orchids into gracing me with the occasional bloom. And the dehumidifier you ask… well that is to keep the basement cool in summer and warm in winter. I don’t need to race to empty it when it beeps.
What would it be like to silence text and email notifications and only look at them at certain times of the day? In reality, its not like I am going to call or email a client beyond a certain time at night anyway.
What would it be like to close some, or all, of those windows on my phone, to shut off some of those beeps in my my home, and to conserve my own energy by not being immediately alerted to non-critical demands in my life?
Well now I can already hear people arguing that they might miss a critical notification from a school or work. Hey I get it. Some things might have to stay on. Some things are more important than others. Some things may deserve our responsiveness when they demand our time and attention. But some things don’t. I don’t need to know my dishwasher is still powered on. I just don’t. It can just shut the beep up!
My blinking stove clock reminds me of my old VCR. Flashing 12:00 in perpetuity. It is kind of nostalgic and makes me giggle a bit inside. My humidifier and/or dehumidifier can wait until I happen to walk by them to be filled or emptied respectively. The plants will adjust. My fridge and just suck it up and relax about its filter. In reality I don’t have the water hooked up to it so I probably don’t even need to change the darn filter. I also don’t need an alert from my dog’s tracker when I know darn well I locked him safely indoors while I am at work.
So, I am checking email twice a day now. Anyone in an emergency can call me. I am turning
off my work phone after work. I am leaving my personal cell in the kitchen on the ledge by the sink. Remember when we all shared one phone hardwired to the wall and no one died? In fact they would get a busy signal or no answer and survive just fine even if there wasn’t an answering machine for them to leave a message. Well that is where you will find my cell phone now. On the ledge in the kitchen. So far everyone has survived this choice.
So perhaps it is time to take a moment and consider how many windows are open in your phone? How many things beep at you in your house? What are the demands on your attention and time? How could you close some things down to conserve your own energy? What the beep would that be like?
Just give it a bit of thought. Afterall, you deserve a peaceful, less beeping stressful life.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the demands on your time and energy reach out for support. We want to help you find the balance you need to achieve the peaceful life you deserve.
If you would like to learn more about setting boundaries to protect your time and energy check out our blog article here
You can also check out additional resources on our resource page at https://www.balancepsychservices.ca/resources
and find a good read on the power of quitting here https://www.balancepsychservices.ca/post/do-n-t-be-a-quitter
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