It wasn’t my phone: no calls, no messages. Nor was it a desktop notification from my Mac – they’re mostly disabled anyway, and I’ve also muted all sound from my keyboard so as to enable distraction-free work.
It could have been one of the smoke detectors, advising me that the battery needs replacing. Or the dishwasher, letting me know that it has completed its cycle. It may even have been my husband’s sports watch, notifying him of a complete charge.
I wander around my home office, looking for the culprit. In my mind, composing a letter of complaint to the Chief Engineer of beep technology. Surely, in this age of the internet of things, there must be a better way?
Aha! It is the cat-flap, below stairs, whose battery has worn down and will no longer allow our two chipped kitties to come and go at will. Their plaintive mewing is worse than any beep, and would likely have woken me in the middle of the night.
The Chief Engineer of beep is forgiven. For now.
Things that go beep are about as welcome in my workspace these days as cold calls from sales people, and updates from whatever app decides to interrupt my flow.
But let’s be honest: distraction-free is a state of mind. If I had been in the zone, I could have ignored the beep. Just as I once learned to tune out colleagues chatting in an open-space office, and now discipline myself to ignore the beckoning of social media and email alerts.
Working independently, it is all about focus. Unfortunately there is no auto-setting for it. Most days I manage to get into the zone long enough to get my core to-do list done. But there are days, and we all have them, where that focus eludes us. We allow ourselves to become distracted, even seek it.
But isn’t technology meant to work for us? Lately it feels like we are all slaves to the digital world.
Maybe it’s time to rethink the beep.