No one wants to fall into a trap, especially one of our own making, and yet there is this cavernous hole for us to fall into, which most amazingly we are building for ourselves in our efforts to be accommodating with the immediate response.

Surely, you could say, that if there is a big hole to fall in then we would see it before we stepped off the pavement and fell into it. Most sane people would, but that is assuming they haven’t been overtaken by the creeping disease that is causing an unfortunate form of blindness, which, by the way, has nothing to do with sight impairment.

Have you got it already? Shall we find out?

When your mobile phone rings, do you answer it immediately? When a text comes in do you rush to your phone to find out what it says and then send back a text message almost before the text has even had time to get into your in box? Equally do you answer your emails as soon as they come in? Worse still do you have a pop up on the screen which tells you that “you’ve got mail” and regardless of what you are doing, do you find yourself having to read the message, and if appropriate, give an instant response?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above the disease has begun. If you answered yes too many of the questions then the disease had taken control. The disease in question is the perils of the “immediate response”.

What is wrong with that? I hear you say. Surely I am being a good communicator? Technically that would be true if it were a life or death situation, but ask yourself how many of those do you get in a year?

The sad reality is that proving to whoever has been in touch that you will usually respond immediately, sets up a sub conscious reaction in them that they can leave communicating with you till the last minute – because you always respond! Worse still it means that most of the communication will then be urgent and robs you of the time for making a good quality decision, and where necessary, the time to pray about the answer before you give it.

This need for the instant response has a habit of putting you under pressure and building totally unnecessary stress into your day. On my courses it is not unusual for people to admit that they have even answered the phone when sitting on the toilet, that is how much the urgency to answer has taken hold.

The cure is to turn your phone onto silent whilst you are working on something important, as your time is already spoken for, and let the answer phone take the call. To only check your emails every three hours, or when you have a spare moment (and don’t let them become a displacement activity when in reality you are procrastinating about getting down to something important). Read your text message if curiosity gets the better of you, but don’t answer it immediately. Turn off the pop up as it will distract you from your current work. Turn off your work phone when you leave the office. Your company will have your home phone if it is truly urgent.

At home don’t always answer the home phone immediately, let it go on to answer phone and then you can filter the calls. Set up a process with your immediate family that if it is urgent they should ring three times, hang up and then ring again. That way you will know it is worth answering – and it better be an emergency!

These are just some of the ways you can start to reverse the vicious cycle you may have gotten into.