Nobody wants to be in bondage.
And yet, that’s what we are—bound, no that’s putting it too mildly—shacked to our cell phones.
Many of the hard working professionals I coach come clean about cell phone slavery, wince when I mention that there’s a way out, and sheepishly confess they haven’t a clue how to get free.
We have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. Nobody can be at everyone’s beck and call. And yet we expect others to drop whatever they’re doing to attend to our call or text, and they expect the same from us, whether they’re our spouses, children, or colleagues.
Fine if you’re Superman or Superwoman.
But I’m betting you’re not.
So if you desire uninterrupted time to explore, think, create, innovate, dream, rest, and enjoy your loved ones, here are some simple strategies. I didn’t say easy, mind you. Simple. But if you’re determined to turn off so you can tune in to life, I’m confident you can discover what works for you.
- Don’t get defensive. Take an honest, critical look at your phone usage. On a spreadsheet, log for one or two days how often you use your cell phone, or other technological gadget, and for what purposes. Even if you just take out your cell phone to glance at it, without actually “using it,” log it. I’m betting you’ll be surprised! Perhaps horrified. Oh, and did I mention honesty?
- Phones and emails have been shown to light up the reward centers of our brains, so find other rewarding activities to replace technology, such as reading, working on a project, daydreaming, cooking, or conversing with other people.
- Experiment with not using it. Try it for half a day, a whole day, or a weekend. I know I’m asking the impossible. But I promise, you will survive! You cannot understand what it’s costing you until you’ve ditched it. And I don’t mean forever. If it helps to think of it as an experiment, then call it that. Experiment and get an accurate sense of the benefits and consequences of intentionally ditching the phone.
- Identify what your unique struggles are. For example, are you tempted by the chime, knowing that you’ve got a new email to check?
- Come up with a plan. Set boundaries or rules for yourself. When and what kinds of calls will you accept? Which will you disregard until later? What hours will you keep the phone on? When will your phone be put away, so you’re not tempted to use it? What’s urgent/not urgent?
- Respectfully share those boundaries with others. Let them know how to get a hold of you if there’s an emergency. One of my clients kindly let her new boss know the times she regularly checks her voicemails and emails. This way, she put a boundary in place, while at the same time assuring her boss that she will indeed do her job.
- Ask for help from others, such as your spouse or kids. If I tell my kids to let me know when I’m one the phone or computer too much, they will do so, and gladly! They want their mommy time. Who can hold you accountable? And better question—are you willing to be held accountable?
I’ve love to hear from some of you how you’ve found freedom from your cell phone or other technology. Perhaps you’ll help one of our readers. Perhaps you’ll help me!
And by the way, if you’d like more articles on career, relationships, and purposeful living, be sure to subscribe to my blog, as well as my newsletter. You’ll even receive my newest ebook, 21 Days to Happier, Healthier, Balanced Living.