Enjoying a beer at 8:15am in Arles
These observations obviously may not apply to everyone in France (and maybe even the people we stayed with act differently in the absence of visitors), but:
People multi-task less in France, which means that their focus is less diluted. Meals are not eaten while writing emails at a desk. Businesses close for lunch, and the only multi-tasking that happens over meals is conversation. The internet is not constantly open in people's homes. Checking email twice in one day on a Blackberry made us appear to be obsessed with work when indeed we considered ourselves to be rather fully checked-out from the workplace. Email is still like regular mail: a letter is a letter, and replies need not be instantaneous. Laptops stayed closed for days rather than being constantly left open (although perhaps hibernated) with two email programs, Twitter, and three blogs open (the state of my current machine-in-use).
I think this may be a better way to live. I'm going to try to be constantly-online less, but respond personally more. And I'm going to take actual lunch breaks instead of snarfling food in front of a computer monitor. (We've already tried to cut down on the dinner-in-front-of-the-tv habit. We don't always win, but at least we try, or we pick a worthy movie instead of doing it thoughtlessly.)
Oops. The kid's awake from from her nap. Gotta go give her my full attention.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU FOCUSED ON MORE?