The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

Let’s All Slow Down

President's Page

Photo of Gregory W. Coleman, President of The Florida Bar. Is it me or is the world we live in moving faster and faster? I remember the days when the only distraction at work was my phone, and it had a cord.

Today, we are bombarded with an endless array of digital information and communication. We feel compelled to constantly check our emails, text messages, Facebook page, Twitter account, voicemails, etc., etc., etc.

This never-ending cycle of checking our devices for mostly useless information has created a society of people who are constantly distracted and unable to focus on any one thing for more than five minutes. This is not a good thing.

Fifteen years ago, a trial lawyer could take a paper file and sit in a conference room undisturbed. He or she could spread out the pleadings, depositions, discovery, and exhibits and carefully, thoughtfully, and diligently create a strategy for the case. This quiet time was absolutely critical to creative and analytical thinking. As lawyers, this is what we were trained to do. He or she could really think about the case and use his or her education and training to properly prepare the matter for trial.

These uninterrupted blocks of time seem to be long gone. Today, the same lawyer often will not isolate himself or herself in the way necessary to conduct this thoughtful exercise. Instead, we run from email-created emergency to emergency. We are constantly putting out small fires or trying to avoid them.

Everyone today seems to expect an instant response to their instant communication. Often, if an email is not returned within 30 minutes, the client, opposing counsel, or managing partner is sending a follow-up email asking why you did not respond to this missive…and the cycle continues.

Additionally, instant communication sometimes creates an instant response often attached to an instant emotion. Fifteen years ago, if you received a nasty letter, you could dictate a nasty response, and it would take a day or so for you to get it back from your assistant. When you received the draft back, you would cross out all of the nasty parts of the response because there was a built-in cooling-off period. Today, people often respond with a visceral reaction due to the instant emotion.

So what do we do to combat this digital epidemic? We need to learn to use more self-control. We need to learn to use restraint. We need to take a deep breath and wait before we hit the “reply” button when we receive a nasty communication.

We need to slow down. This is easier said than done, but I am convinced we can do this together.

We also need to learn to step away from our devices. We need to re-engage with our surroundings. Watch a sunset or simply listen to the waves. Hug your child or your loved one. Soak up a little bit of this beautiful world we live in, and remember, it won’t last forever.