What did you say?

Every day, we send 145 Billion emails, post to Facebook 1000 times per second, write 75 million blog posts, and upload 144,000 hours of video to YouTube. Don’t forget about Vimeo, MySpace (I think), and Twitter.

And to keep in touch with all of our friends who are doing all this posting, we feel we too have to be online, posting back, liking, commenting, and retweeting. Not really the best way to accomplish anything worthwhile.

It’s no wonder we aren’t communicating with each other; we’re trying to say too much!

We’re not listening at all.

Sure, our friends are important; incredibly important, I would argue. Keeping in touch has become easier than ever thanks to the Internet. But there won’t be any rewards in the afterlife for ‘Liked His Friends’ Posts The Most’ or ‘Fastest Retweeter Ever’.

These tools can be effective at keeping us in touch, but we have to use them constructively.

How many of us have difficulty telling someone we’re busy and can’t talk? It’s easy to do so when it’s a phone call interrupting our workflow. We just ignore the call or hit the silent button, making a mental note to call them later. “I’ll call them back if they leave a voicemail,” we say.

Passive-agressive doesn’t really help the situation because you continue to feel guilty for not taking your friends’ call because you didn’t set boundaries. Tell them upfront that you’ll be returning calls during a set time of day, and if it’s truly urgent they should call you twice. They’ll respect your communication of the new rules, and also start wondering, ‘What’s he doing that’s so freakin’ important?’ And you won’t even have to answer that question because you’ll be so busy producing that the answer will be obvious.

Remember when you were growing up, and your parents didn’t let you take calls after 9pm? That’s a boundary.

What about the time you kicked the dog- yep, boundary. “You can kick the ball, Johnny, but not Max.”

And driving too fast or swearing? There are boundaries we have to respect there, too, and they’re meant to protect us.

As I’ve grown I’ve come to realize the power of boundaries. They keep us safe but they also allow for greater creativity, faster thinking, and easier decision-making.

“Nope, I don’t want a tattoo of that.”

“Thank you, but no, I don’t need a set of printed encyclopedias.”

“My lawn doesn’t need cutting today, thanks though.”

So how to get more done without offending our friends and ostracizing ourselves from the rest of the digital world?

Set boundaries.

Provide yourself a limited amount of time to check Facebook each day. Staying in touch once per day will keep you in tune with the world plenty well.

Check email only after noon, when you’ve had time to focus on your most important tasks of the day. If it was truly urgent, they would have called.

Return calls once you’ve had a chance to gather all the information you can for the caller. Spending a little time upfront can prevent a lot of wasted time later.

When you set boundaries, you provide the required framework for your creativity to flow and your genius to rise to the surface.

Resources used in writing this post:

Leo Babauta (zenhabits.net)

Darren Hardy (darrenhardy.success.com)