It had been an amazing afternoon. I realized how calm and relaxed I felt. I started to wonder how this afternoon had been different than any other afternoon? I realized I hadn’t heard my phone chime all afternoon.
I looked at the phone after not even thinking of it for hours and it was full of messages I never heard. NONE of which were important. It wasn’t the first time I had realized the peace of no chimes, but it truly reinforced what I had already known. It caused a permanent change in my phone and my peace of mind!
If you are older than 30 over half of your life has been lived without hand-held devices. You were left on your own to think clearly without interruption. You finished tasks without chimes going off. You spent time with friends and family without vibration or singing coming from your bag or pocket. In fact, you likely never had a cell phone until you were in college and it didn’t even have texting!
Our life is constantly interrupted today. We are constantly connected to a device. If you go to work, you likely use a computer. Many of us do not receive a printed newspaper anymore. We read everything from our handheld device. And yes I do see the irony of how you are reading this piece right now.
What difference does it really make?
A huge difference. It’s time to hang up and see what I mean. How can it be possible today? Won’t we miss something or someone if we hang up? NO! Here’s how we do it and why we won’t miss a thing.
Step 1: Give yourself times of day and time limits
Split apart the parts and times of the day for work on devices. This can be work for income, reading, or play time on your device. Stick to a schedule of device use for any or all of these things.
What does that look like? Say you want to write something as a freelancer, you block out two hours in the afternoon to write on your computer. You need to schedule social media or check statistics? Add on a 30-minute time frame to that writing time and do it before or after you have written for the day.
This same type of schedule can be applied to your work even in the workplace. If you have job tasks that are disconnected from devices, be sure that you don’t bring a device with you. Don’t interrupt your task for a device.
Don’t really need your phone or computer for work and you just use it in life? You need to start giving yourself a limit. You like to read the “paper” in the morning with coffee. Give yourself a cutoff time. Once you have reached your time limit for the timeframe of the day get off the devices and shut them down. Give yourself at least 6 hours a day device-free.
Can’t turn the phone off completely? That’s fine. Phones are amazing. You can actually schedule them into do not disturb modes at YOUR schedule. You can pick and choose what comes through to alert you during those times (see below for tips).
Step 2: Stop reading so much social media & online news
Within your given time frame to use devices you should also limit what you are reading and doing on the device. If you stop reading news (or cut it down to ¼ of what you read now) you will feel 100 times better without any of these other tips. The news is depressing. It points out all of the things we already know to be true about the world. It’s violent, people hate, people hurt and people take from each other.
I stopped watching television news and reading news media online about five years ago when I had my son. I was terrified of the world he would live in and it was really bringing me down. The last thing I needed to was be depressed and terrified of the world more than I already was. I needed to be positive to raise him right. There was an immediate relief to not watching or reading.
Do I literally read nothing? No, I look at a few online stories as they appear in different streams of media. But that truly is it for traditional news. I never ever watch television news.
I also have recently limited my social media use. I have taken a break from social media for personal use for a few months. However, prior to that, I had already limited my use. I use it for my blogs, and I enjoy reading about other bloggers and their blogs in my feed. I also allowed myself about 30 minutes in the late evening after my child had gone to bed to check in again. After both of those time periods, my devices are off or silent. After a recent decision to even eliminate this time in the evening and day I have found even more peace of mind.
Step 3: Determine what phone tones are truly necessary to daily life & silence the rest
How many different notifications do you have on your device? Email, text message, husband text message, WhatsApp messages, Twitter, Facebook, Games, Weather… the list goes on and on. It’s exhausting, right? Time to shut them up!
What notifications do I have on? Phone calls (do not have a home phone), text messages, and my husbands’ special ringtone. That’s it. Honestly. It’s true peace. If I could silence my text messages I would. But sometimes important messages that should be phone calls come through text so they stay on. However, if you only receive repeated “meaningless” text messages it’s time to silence them. Or perhaps you just choose “text free” hours of the day – just like you limit your device and reading.
How to schedule all of these breaks? Start by turning off individual app notifications. No notifications for email, for Facebook, for Twitter, for weather, and the other laundry list. Choose 1-3 notifications you will leave on during the “on time.”
Now want total peace? Choose do not disturb times. Schedule huge amounts of your day in do not disturb mode. Don’t even pick the phone up. Just leave it alone. My recommendation is to choose the point in your evening where it’s time to really relax and let go. Start a daily do not disturb at that time. Mine is when my child goes to bed. 8 p.m. I no longer receive notifications after 8 p.m. on my phone. The only thing allowed through are phone calls. It’s amazing how much conversation and relaxation you can have with your partner when you allow this to happen daily.
If you struggle to find peace from your device during the day and need it, schedule a chunk mid-day on do not disturb. You have to be true to what you set. Let the phone go. Turn the devices off.
What will you do instead of using a device?
In most people’s lives, they are spending significant amounts of time using a device. At times when it’s not in their hand, they feel empty or lost. However, I can tell you that you will feel more connected to the world and people WITHOUT your device in your hand.
To Do: Talk to your spouse/partner/friends
Go outside, sit on your deck, have a glass of wine with someone. Sit by your fireplace (no TV), relax in a chair with a friend or spouse. No phone needed. Talk about your day. Talk about your worries. Talk about your life. Talk about anything. Go out to dinner with the phone off. No phones at the table.
To Do: Go back to, or start, a hobby
Remember those things? Hobbies. Did you ever knit something? Crochet? Sew? Draw? Color? Good news is all those things still exist. If your hands are bored, or your mind clears better with something moving in front of you, it’s time to get those hobbies back. There are amazing adult coloring books you can get for cheap or even print free online.
To Do: Sit and reflect
Sit outside in silence and peace. Listen to your surroundings. Clear your mind. Just breathe. Need to move and don’t want stillness? Take a hike. Bring a lunch. Sit in the wilderness. Ride a bike. Still not your thing? Go to the mall! Take a walk around the mall. People watch.
It honestly doesn’t matter what you do, it’s more about letting go of technology and devices. Once you free yourself of constant interruption, bad news, and societal difficulties your mind is free. It’s free to focus, clear itself, and find meaning in life. It will be able to make real connections to people and surroundings again.
It’s time to hang up.