one word check-in {october twenty-two}

If you wrote a post for this month’s check-in, I invite you to join the One Word party, share in Comments below, or reflect on your own. Whatever works! The link will be live all week, through Sunday.

Thanks for coming!

My October word work was…mundane. At best.

(How’s that for a hook!?!)

It was much-needed, hit-me-over-the-head work, though. (As in actual headache! For days.) And just when I thought I was making good progress? I failed. Miserably.

My prompt was this:

I did one thing well, right off the bat: I minimized how I use my phone.

It’s fine for maps + directions, old-fashioned phone calls, ‘looking something up real quick.’ It’s texting a lengthy conversation that’s problematic for me.

I told you what happened last month. How, over the course of several hours, a friend engaged me in text conversation about something problematic, for her. (Which, in the course of an afternoon, became problematic for me!)

Before our big move, I used a landline and email; my cell was for back-up and hardly anyone had the number. Now, my smart phone is it. No landline. (It’s fine.) (Practical.) But I’m still getting used to it.

I feel kinda wide open with texting. To anyone, anytime, for anything. Questions. Hellos. Appointments. Reminders. Pictures. Funnies. Chatting. Plans. Etcetera. Some of it’s lovely. Handy. Even helpful!

But some of it? Not so much.

Some of it? It’s just too much.

I never stopped to give it much thought ’til that too much texting headache that left me downright mad, to be honest. With a little bit of space from it, though, I realized I was at least half to blame: I’d never stopped to think about text boundaries.

But I do now. As soon as I set that prompt–as soon as I paid attention to the problem–it was easy to tackle:

: : I text quick hellos/genuine I’m-thinking-of-you’s…

: : and I text plans/confirmations/logistics/questions.

: : I have to admit, I love funny gifs. They make me laugh. I send some.

: : Except for my mom and my daughter, I do no other daily check-ins.

: : As soon as text message turns meaningful conversation, I suggest a phone call instead.

It’s made a big difference. For sure.

Now, here’s where I screwed up royally.

Mid-month, my oldest friend texted and suggested we meet for a weekend walk. I picked the date, she picked the park, a 30-40 minutes’ drive for us both.

At 9:40 on Saturday the 22nd…warm, sunny, perfect for a walk…she called.

Where are you? Is everything okay? She’d been waiting 45 minutes.

Now, one thing about me is my honor of time–our greatest commodity. I’ve chosen time over money, always. I not only protect my own time but I honor others’. While I’m rarely never early for anything, I try hard not to be late. And never at another’s expense.

So when she called–my wet hair wrapped in a towel and coffee cup just refilled–I was incredulous. She was a week early! Calmly (she’s a chaplain), she said, I don’t think so…. Let me check our texts.

And there it was. On my side of the thread. 10/22, 9am.

I’d written the wrong date on my calendar.

Much about this upsets me, but the worst was that I’d wasted her time (and her family’s). And–it was the second mistake of its kind I’d made in a week.

I apologized + chastised myself. She was gracious + forgiving. We tentatively rescheduled for this coming Friday. She shared how she keeps herself and her time organized; I found myself feeling defensive. But I am organized! I clear my kitchen counters every single night!

Once we hung up, though, I thought about the ways I’m not organized.

At all.

I’m not electronically organized. My digital house is…cluttered. At best.

In my fantasy, I stand at the pier and chuck my cell phone into Lake Erie. In real life, I sat in my car in a parking lot while Elsa was at dance class later that morning, and I figured how to ‘do’ my phone a bit better.

I should be embarrassed to tell you I didn’t know, til then, that I could swipe left and make my texts go away. (They actually get archived!) (Who knew?) What happened with the plans for our walk was this: my texts were all still on my screen. Text messages, from every number that’s ever texted me, went back forever. Or for however long the phone will keep them. I could scroll, scroll, scroll and that black type just went on. And on.

And because of that, things got lost. It feels very ‘dog ate my homework.’ But it’s true. Things get buried. I forget. They slip down a screen and go where they go to die.

But not anymore!

This simple concept of swiping left when I’m done with a conversation…or after I’ve tapped on a link to confirm an appointment, load a discount, you name it. It goes away. I can find it in archives, if I need it. If there’s something I need to do with it later–like correctly transfer a date to my calendar–I leave it in place, to remind me.

But otherwise–swipe! And I’m engaging with a clean screen, clear mind.

I told you–mundane! But satisfying, too. Satisfying when a small shift yields big change. When I can make a tool work for me–not vice versa. When I can use it less in a way that feels like more.

You could even say it was worth the headache!

I’m curious–would you say you set boundaries for texting? Or is it not an issue for you?

P.S. I usually post my One Word Prompt on the 1st of every month. But that’d be tomorrow, and I don’t post back-to-back. So I’ll share it in a couple of days. See you then!

10 thoughts on “one word check-in {october twenty-two}

Add yours

  1. Texting is great for a few things … and terrible at many! and I think it’s worst at “conversations”. Here’s to a new month and (maybe?) some easier lessons ❤️


    1. Like I told Kat, I think I’m just a snail mailer at heart–because I went through this same learning curve (mutiple times) with email….reconciling that ‘instant’ piece of digital communication that exhausts my sensitive self. Necessary evils that must be tamed! 🙂


  2. I prefer to text for quick things — notes to my husband during the day, sharing a photo, etc. — but for longer conversations I definitely prefer to be able to type on a keyboard if possible (I’ll talk on the phone if necessary, but it’s not my favorite). The calendar on my phone, though, is really helpful. My husband has so many work and board commitments that it’s impossible for us to be on the same page without it. I think the biggest lesson to learn here is that we have to make sure our technology that works for us and not the other way around.


  3. I don’t remember if you have read Cal Newport’s book on Digital Minimalism. I read it several years ago and found some great little tips for maintaining a healthy digital life. Yes, the smart phone is a necessary evil… I am filled with joy at the photos of my grands. I love the texts that come from my kids. But for so many other things… it just is a pain in the arse!

    I have missed meetings that I set up… on the actual phone back pre-smart-phone days. (and that was my MUCH MUCH younger brain that forgot those meetings! Yes, plural!!) I think that our brains can only “juggle” so much on at any given time and even though our intention is to never forget anything… it happens. I am so glad that your friend poured out her grace and covered you with it… and I bet she is looking forward to your gathering!

    (P.S. You asked me about Icing on the Lake… yes we went! Gah, it was so delicious! And sadly they are closing at the end of the year. BUT!! There is going to be a Cupcake Locker where you can still get your fix! I tried to look for the update in the Erie news online, but I could not find it quickly this morning! I will find it and update it in my blog this week!)


    1. Yes, yes! I love Cal Newport. Funny–I hadn’t thought of it ’til reading your comment–but I read Dig. Min. before I was much of a smart phone user. I read it because I felt buried alive by email. (Worse, even, than texting, in my book! Sigh. I’m just a snail-mailer, at heart.) Part of my Digital Minimalism Philosophy I wrote for myself was “Email is for information…*not* interaction.” I think the same definitely applies to texting! Thanks for reminding me to look at that. ♥
      And can’t wait to read your Erie post!


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