18 July 2013

I Should Learn to Use a Calendar: On Smartphones, AD/HD & Quality of Life

I hustled into Green Street Church aware that, if I was running late, it was only by a minute or two. The building seemed unusually quiet as I walked inside. A few seconds later, when I reached the room where the Institute for Dismantling Racism's monthly community caucuses begin, I understood why. There was no one there.

My next thought, “This is Thursday, right?” I pulled out my phone and hit its “wake up” button:

Thursday, July 18
Battery 96%

Yes, it was Thursday, and I was actually a couple minutes early. My next question: “Why am I the only one here?”

…and at this point having a smartphone begins to influence the sequence of events.

Maybe I was in the wrong place. I swiped my finger across the phone's screen to unlock it and tapped the email icon. I scrolled down through a week's worth of subject lines until I saw what I was looking for—Evite Invitation: IDR Community Caucusing—and opened the message.

Green Street Church

The train of thought that followed went something like this:

Okay, I'm in the right place.
…and, yeah, I got the time right so, what the…
[Looking more closely at the phone's screen.]
Thursday, July 25, 2013
…and today is?
[Another finger-swipe—downward from the top edge of the screen—to reveal the phone's “notification area.” with current date]
Thu, Jul 18, 2013
Hmmm… Maybe I should learn to use a calendar.

Consider what it would've taken to figure this out before I had a smart phone. Forget about looking at the email, and calling wouldn't have been an option. Since I hadn't phoned IDR's office before, the number wouldn't have been in my contact list. I would've needed to go upstairs to the office and—assuming anyone was there at lunchtime—ask if I was mistaken about the day/time/location.

Today, it took less than two minutes to figure out that I'd gotten the date wrong—I was a week early! Furthermore, had I chosen not to write a blog post, no one else need have known about it. For many, this might mean avoiding a minor inconvenience. However, given the frustration and embarrassment that accompanies such mishaps and their frequency for those of us living with AD/HD, this represents a noticeable improvement in quality of life.