THE BACKSTORY: I made a choice this morning to turn off my phone and leave it at home. I felt like I was always checking it during the day and wanted to see what it would be like to take a break from being constantly accessible. To be honest, how I felt at the end of the day really surprised me. Read on to find out how my day went...
I got my first mobile phone the summer I turned 18 - it was one of the original Alcatel bricks. You know, the kind that kept your ears warm when you’ve been talking more than 30 minutes. Yes, one of those that could have been used if I needed to defend myself from an attacker. It had a fixed antenna, but came up short of having to extend it to use the phone. Back in the days when texts cost you 20 cents, pxts were 50 cents, and the best game was Snake. The time when you only had dial-up internet, and you had to choose between being on the internet and using the landline.
Ah, those simpler times. Now you see ten year olds walking around with iPhones, and instead of asking for directions, we’re all in search of free wi-fi.
Don’t get me wrong, the smartphone and the internet has evolved the way we connect, travel and learn about the world around us. The way we create, save and share memories has changed too. Everywhere we are bombarded by images and videos vying for our attention and brain space. I know this because not only am I a regular consumer, but as former dance studio owner, social media made me easily accessible to my current and potential customers.
There’s the rub! In hindsight, I was too accessible. With a smartphone, I could and did, answer emails and messages at all hours of the day. Even before bed. Being too accessible was manageable in the short term, but I see now that I erased any distinction between my business, public and private life.
Switching off and gaining time
We’re sold the idea that these mini computers are time savers because they can do so much at the touch of button. That’s just it, that belief sucks us into using them everywhere we go and for me anyways, it’s rare not to have it on me. This experiment probably would have been harder if I tried it on a weekend - that’s why I tested the waters during a weekday. I still had access to the internet at work, and we had a landline, so it wasn’t like I was on an isolated island! I also made sure to let me boss and other workmates offsite know, that today their messages will go unanswered until I got home.
What I noticed straight away was my renewed focus. It surprised me that I didn’t have any fomo (fear of missing out), and it was actually a relief to take away the temptation and lessened my ability to be distracted. Just by switching off, leaving my phone at home made me more aware of just how much I do spend on it out of habit (or boredom).
Which is a lot, obviously.
The gift of you, for yourself and others
I had a really good day. I mean, the brain space I would normally allocate to my phone use (answering texts and using social media etc), went instead to everyone who saw me in person. I smiled a lot more. Am I the only one that gets a bit anxious when your phone doesn’t buzz during the day? I don’t think so, but one thing is for sure, we have that choice to switch off.
But, but, but, but....I get it, switching your phone off for a day for business owners isn’t practical. How about trying it for an hour, or maybe the next time you hang out with friends? Giving time, brain space and your full attention is a priceless gift. It’s also free!
Deep down, I do hope I have some notifications and texts to sort through when I finally turn on my phone when I get home from work. Understanding that I can survive a day without my phone (which sounds silly I know!) is the first step to becoming more mindful of my life choices.
Have you tried it? Let me know how it went for you in the comments.