Switch Off and Disconnect

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What happens when you hear that phone ping? Do you immediately grab it? Do you immediately need to know if someone sent you an SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, FB Message, tweet, email, or if it was a breaking news alert? 

I just read about the latest research on our phone usage which is now four times higher than it was 10 years ago.

On average, we receive 34k messages a year, which is equivalent to roughly 90 messages a day. That means, we spend about 22 days a year checking messages. Just imagine what else you could do instead?

Funnily enough, there are plenty of mobile apps (!) to help you monitor your phone usage. I used Moment for a little while. Moment can actually track how much time you spend on your phone. It’s quite shocking when you see how many hours a day you are ‘wasting’ on your phone. 

From my personal use, I know that my phone has been glued to me for many years. Since I worked in mobile advertising many years ago, I have a ton of apps on my phone. I have an app for almost everything. I have so many apps on my phone, I don’t even know what half of them are supposed to do! I may be an extreme case in terms of app download, but I’m certainly no different than other people in terms of phone usage.

I am still in the process of learning to manage my phone usage. When I’m on holiday it is actually quite easy. I put my phone away and barely touch it during the day. This was hard in the very beginning but once I managed to do that, I felt free. I almost felt naughty knowing that absolutely nobody could get hold of me. It was me time. 

At home, I very often just grab my phone and scroll through apps because, well, I don’t know why. Just because! And I’m doing that whilst watching TV. My mind being scattered, well, this is the opposite of mindfulness! 

I have deleted many apps on my phone that have distracted me too much without giving me any value. I try not to have my phone right next to me when I’m at home relaxing. And my absolute favourite feature on my iPhone is the “Do Not Disturb” mode which I switch on in the evenings and at night only. But now, I find myself even using it during the day when I need to focus on something and don’t want to be distracted. In order to be more productive at work it is also worth looking at your computer settings to stop notifications when you need to focus on a specific task. 

I love technology. I love gadgets. But I need to be careful to keep using technology in a productive, useful way. 

If this article resonates with you, start making steps towards more time off. Disconnect. Switch off more often. 

At first, it will make you feel uncomfortable. I remember being on a spa retreat leaving my villa without my phone for the first time. I felt like I was missing a limb! This was enough reason for me to continue disconnecting from my phone. You can start in small steps and leave your phone on silent in your hallway when you are at home. So, whenever you want to check your phone you need to get up and get it. I don’t know what you are like, but those few steps can feel like miles sometimes and can stop me from checking my phone when I’m being lazy in front of the TV! I also make sure I don’t check any messages about an hour before I go to bed. It is vital to reduce screen time before going to bed for a good night’s sleep. Those messages can always wait until the morning. Once you have overcome the initial FOMO, you will start feeling free and you will feel this relief of not needing to be constantly connected. It is absolutely worth it. Give it a go.