Reader Allen submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
I recently received my T-Mobile bill for this month and my text message sent count was 14,657. I mean, thank god for unlimited texting, but it seems like texting might be cluttering my life, or cluttering my mind too much? What do you think, should I cut back on my excessive texting (yes, I admit it) or should I just continue?
I receive questions similar to this one all the time — How many shoes should I own? Should I own a car? How many sets of silverware is too many? Am I sending too many e-mails?
The truth of the matter is that only you know what is clutter in your life. Only you know if texting is distracting you from focusing on what really matters to you. Only you can weigh the positive and negative effects texting is having on your life. This is not a decision I can make for you.
Texting is certainly keeping you in touch with someone — friends, family, co-workers. And, if these people matter to you and keeping a close relationship with them is one of your priorities, then constant texting might not be clutter.
On the other hand, if texting is replacing a deeper relationship with these people, all the texting would be clutter. Additionally, it might be prohibiting you from focusing on people you’re with in the present, because you’re constantly looking at your phone.
Assuming it takes you on average 30 seconds to send a text, you spent a little more than 122 hours last month texting. If there are 720 hours per month, and you slept for 240 of those, you were probably awake about 480 hours last month. So, if you were writing texts 122 of 480 hours, about a quarter of your waking time was spent sending texts. And, since this doesn’t include reading texts from people who write back to you or thinking about your response, it’s possible texting is consuming half your waking life.
Are you okay with this? Would you rather be spending half of your waking time hanging out with these people, face-to-face, instead? Would you rather be spending half of your waking time focused on something else beside staring at your phone? Do you have a job? Do you go to school? Is there anything else you need to be doing or want to be doing?
Like I said earlier, only you know if texting is cluttering up your time. Determine what it is you really want out of life, and then work to clear the distractions that get in the way of the life you desire. If texting is cluttering up your time, you can change your behavior to reduce the amount of texts you send and receive. Turn off your cell phone when you’re doing what really matters to you. Send texts to people only when it is convenient for you and when it advances your life’s priorities.
Thank you, Allen, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.
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