Credit: Priscilla-du-preez via Unsplash
I was seriously craving some ‘time out’ last weekend. The plan was to chill, enjoy some sun, fun, food, family and friends and unwind the knot that was giving me some serious gyp in my neck.
So imagine my frustration when I spent the first 45 minutes of Saturday morning working.
That I’m aware of, I don’t save lives for a living, but it has become second nature to look on my phone ALL THE TIME and it was my addiction to grabbing my phone, while in bed, that got my weekend off to a bad start.
The annoying thing is that it didn’t have to go that way. If I hadn’t opened the email I never would have known that someone had contacted me, or felt the need to respond, there and then.
I’m the same with text and whatsapp messages. I’ll be sat eating supper with SP or we will have just sat down to watch a film together when a message beeps at me from the coffee table. I don’t think twice about responding, sometimes with messages going back and forth for an hour at a time.
Of course, I start those conversations off as well. I’ll ping off messages to friends late at night, assuming they’ll answer. Of course, they will. We’re all on our phones, aren’t we? To be honest, I think a lot of us are. But is being available 24/7 good for us and is it starting to affect our relationships with others in real life as well as our health and wellbeing?
Certainly, I’ve seen SP throw me some side eye when I’ve picked up my phone at every ad break to continue a message with someone else and as Saturday demonstrated, spending nearly an hour dealing with a work query was not the best way to start a much longed-for weekend of fun.
Emails, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Facebook, are all time thieves allowed into my life daily and I think it’s down to me to use them more wisely.
The internet and the invasive way it has entered our lives won’t be slowing down any time soon and to be honest I love the way the use of mobile phones has opened up my world. I meet new people through it all the time, can multi-task life admin without leaving the sofa, and even glean new opportunities for work. So what’s the problem.
It’s just too much. I’m on it too much. I feel anxious that I have to respond to every beep that lands on my phone.
I started dumbing down notifications, but have you noticed that with one single app you can receive three notifications, in separate ways, per message. I’ll get a ping, then a notification at the top of the phone screen and just to back both those up, a message to say I’ve got a message in my emails!
So, taking control back in to my own hands, I’ve decided that first off, I’m going to turn off the phone at 8 pm each night. I need to give myself a cut-off point and SP keeps his phone on, so if anyone needs us in an emergency then they have his number, or our landline.
Secondly, I thought I would start reading my emails at scheduled times of the day. Checking them constantly gets in the way of my to do list. As a PR, I communicate all day long, but I often need to sit down, gather my thoughts and write copy. With constant interruptions it can take some time. So perhaps a schedule of 9.30, 12.30, 2:00, 4:00 and 5:15 will be enough to read and respond to queries, even if it is to say I got your message and will get back to you tomorrow.
With this in mind, I started the experiment this week. Here’s what happened:
Phone went off at 8 pm. Twitched for two hours til bed-time, but slept better than I had in a while.
No work, no emails.
Phone off at 8 pm. Less twitching, but my eyes were closing earlier than normal and I had to excuse myself from the Ten O’clock news…
Checked emails at 9.30 am.
Phone off at 8.10 pm. I had to finish off a text…
First checked emails at 9.45 am.
Phone off at 8:05 pm. Responding to a text…
Checked emails at 9 am.
So I think I’m doing pretty good. Albeit there does appear a loosening of the rule as the days go on, the deadline is firmly in my head and that’s because I’m already starting to feel the benefit.
Without the phone on and my eyes constantly staring into bright lights, they are naturally dimming ready for bed. My mind is also less anxious for the two hours before bed-time, well unless SP puts The Walking Dead on!
What you will have you noticed is that I have paid hardly any attention to the email scheduling. Apart from starting to check them at 9.30, I have still been looking at my emails all day long, until the phone goes off at 8 pm.
Still room for improvement obviously, but I’m glad I have nailed the timeline for the phone. I instantly feel relaxed when it’s off and the world hasn’t caved in. Yet.
As for keeping in touch with family and friends, I hope my relationships will benefit. It’s already on my mind to make arrangements and meet up with people and when I go out with them, I’ll leave the phone in the bag…as soon as I’ve taken a pic of my food for Instagram.
I can cut down, not out.
Have a good weekend.
How do you feel about your mobile phone? Friend or foe? And even if a ‘friend’, is it over-staying its welcome at times?