Friday, December 03, 2010

Slow Cloth and the Off Switch

I ran across a new term today. Continuous Partial Attention. It got me thinking about some of the things that I struggle with and see the people around me struggling with even more. The concepts of Slow Cloth and using the off switch.

In the fiber industry the term "Slow Cloth" means pretty much what it sounds like. Something made slowly, by hand, with excellence and pride by the maker and with consideration for the end user. Examples of slow cloth could be the hat a wife crochets for her husband, the dress a grandma makes for her grand-daughter, the table a son makes for his mom, the pendant a man makes for his sister-in-law... You get the idea. Things made by hand, with excellence and love.

Slow Cloth is directly opposed to Continuous Partial Attention. It requires full attention and commitment from the maker while making. No working and Twittering at the same time. Email is out of the question. And no talking on the phone and sewing at the same time. Not if you are committed to excellence and love.

The Slow Cloth concept applies to other areas of life as well.

• When you go to a meeting at work, how many people have their laptops open "taking notes" and checking email, watching videos friends on Facebook posted, Twittering about how boring the meeting is, working on other projects because it's due right after the meeting...? Or do you have their full attention because they've left their smart phone and computer at their desk?

• How many people are driving and on the phone at the same time, not really paying full attention to the road or others around them? I'm very thankful for the "no texting while driving" law in Colorado. What scares me is the need for such a law. Do you try to multitask while driving or do you actually give your driving your full attention?

• Have you ever sat down in a restaurant with your spouse and found that both of you immediately pull out your smart phones and start checking email and Facebook or playing a game? Oops. Guilty as charged and I'm trying to be more conscious about keeping it put away. We should be talking and enjoying each other not distracted by our phones.

This is where using the off switch comes in. Most of those things in our current lives that we allow to distract us (create Continuous Partial Attention) have an off switch. If you can't let the phone ring, ignore email or texts, stay off of Twitter or Facebook, or whatever it is...Turn It Off.

"But I can't. People need to be able to get a hold of me." Set limits and communicate them with people. Then stick to it. You'll be amazed how it changes your life. You'll be MORE productive, more engaged, more connected with those around you, more creative, and certainly less stressed out. Don't believe me? Prove it! I dare you.

So my Christmas wish for us all this year? Be more slow cloth and turn it off if you can't leave it alone. Actually BE with your loved ones 100%. It's the best gift of all.

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