Squashing Gigaguilt

I’ve been reading CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD by Edward R. Hallowell.  The author coined the term Gigaguilt.  Initially, I figured that Gigaguilt was feeling regretful that I didn’t buy the 64 GB iPod and defaulted to the 16 GB iPod.  Like gigabite envy; it’s not.

It’s about the guilt associated with having access to so much information that you know that you are missing that 5k race for domestic violence victims, and the compensation conference in Tampa, and that comedian you’d love to see, or your son’s wrestling match that falls on the same night as your WordPress Meetup.

Life was so much simpler when we didn’t get Facebook invitations to fundraisers for every charity under the sun.  They are all so deserving but how do you choose once the flood gates of information or connectedness open up?  There is this constant struggle between priorities in your life.  Some of which, up until about 5 years ago, weren’t even on your radar.  If you feel like you are overcommitted and are still beating yourself up that you forgot about the parents meeting at your child’s school, have 6 unanswered meeting requests in your inbox and your mother is exasperated that you haven’t returned her call –  You are suffering from Gigaguilt.

Here are some practical tips on how to squash the gigaguilt:

1. Timer.  Put a timer on when it comes to social media.  Spend 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.  Check in, and do what you are there for.  Check your daughter’s page, your college group feed and wish everyone happy birthday, and Get OFF.  Out of sight, out of mind.

2. Select.  Be selective with your notifications, lists and resources.  I am on several lists.  I get several daily, weekly and monthly newsletters, articles and posts.  If I decide it’s not serving me after a few weeks or months.  I drop it.  If something new comes on the horizon, I sign up and see if there is a benefit.  If not?  I drop it.  You are going to need to draw the line.  If you are never going to be a painter or lawyer or PhD candidate, get off the list.  If you aspire to learn how to play guitar, be a better public speaker or want some leadership advice, sign up and take a test drive.  Just be willing to pull the plug if it’s not serving you.  Clutter produces drag.

3. Slack. As in cut yourself some slack.  It’s OK to not sign up for every 5k within a 20 mile radius of your home.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Don’t head down the self judgment trail.  You don’t need to be the perfect________(fill in the blank).  My son ran in the state track meet last year and I wasn’t there to see it.  I saw the video.  I’m still a great parent.  No judgment.  I didn’t get to run a 10k in April.  I’ll try it next year.  I’m still a runner…er jogger.  I didn’t get to go to the charity event I’ve attended for the last 9 years.  It’s still a great cause and I am still a generous person.  Remember:  No one is keeping tabs except you.  Judge yourself exemplary.

4. Expectations. Lay the ground work with those who are important in your life.  Tell your boss that you won’t be able to work Thursday afternoons during you son’s wrestling season.  Tell your mother that you don’t take phone calls during dinner.  Let your daughter know that you have a trip scheduled during her upcoming concert.  There is a lot less guilt and finger pointing if you lay out your expectations up front.

5. Present.  Be present.  If your partner is talking to you, stop looking at your iPhone, make eye contact and listen.  If you are on the phone with your friend, don’t look at email.  If your dog wants to be scratched, look her in the eyes and be with her in the moment.   If you are taking a walk, smell, listen and look at the sights around you.  You aren’t going to get this moment back.  Be there, in the moment, in every moment of your life.

I am by nature, an early adopter.  I will on impulse sign up for a Groupon that I’m not sure my husband is on board with.  I will sign up for the class that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to fit into my life.  I have learned to back off.  Take a breath.  Be selective and squash the gigaguilt.  Just be cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.

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