Being mobile: What if instant access isn’t about instant response?

Estimated read time: 2 minutes


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Some days my phone is lighting up every few minutes – announcing the arrival of a new email. Let’s see who it’s from. Swipe right to read it in its entirety and respond immediately is often my reaction.

It’s a habit. Maybe even an excuse to divert attention from whatever else is going on right that second.

Katy Trail in DallasThe other day, I was running and walking on the Katy Trail in Dallas and my phone was buzzing away with messages and people having conversations with each other through emails.

Instant access gives us the possibility to respond immediately, of course.

It wasn’t always that way. I remember covering the police beat at a regional newspaper in the mid-2000’s and I had to drive back to the office to check my email on a desktop computer. Not a laptop, but a desktop computer. It had one of those big, heavy screens, too. Only executives had smart phones – then called Blackberries.

Either way, today, I can be connected to my email, Twitter and iMessages from just about anywhere. I can sit at the beach, while at the gym and even while out running.

So I was walking on the Katy Trail, my phone kept vibrating and messages kept coming in. I looked at them to see what was going on and even had some opinions. I had something to share. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m talkative. 🙂

But before I responded, I changed my mind. Not everything has to be instant. For the record: I do see the value in instant communication and I think it actually builds trust. But sometimes it’s OK to review the messages, digest and reply just a tad later. Even just waiting minutes can give us the chance to digest and think about our response maybe just a bit longer.

Taking a short break to think can help us give a better response and be a better participant in the discussion.