If you have a smart phone, you probably use it for pretty much everything. Texts, social media, emails, notes, pictures, music, fitness tracking and so on, the list is massive. The average time a person spends on their phone is staggering. I am no different. Over the years I haven’t been the best example of how to manage my screen time, but I am making changes.
I got my first smart phone in 2013, when I moved to Scotland. From the get go I was on it all the time. If I got a message, of any kind, my phone would ping and like a dog with a bone, I’d be right there. I created a reputation as the guy who always responded within record time. If you emailed my work account, regardless of how late, you’d normally get a response within 30 minutes or less. If you text me you’d get a response within minutes, if not seconds. Whatever noise or vibration came from my phone, I immediately had it in my hand and was responding.
Over time this clearly, and very understandably, annoyed my wife and it was draining me too (even if I didn’t know it). I’d created a reputation where people expected me to respond quickly and if I didn’t they’d wonder why. It meant that my brain was always ticking, always working, always active and not really just enjoying the moment.
As time went on I saw that my phone was a problem, I was prioritising other people and their ‘needs’. So something had to change.
I have turned off most of the notifications on my phone. It didn’t happen over night, even though it should have, but now my phone rarely buzzes or rings. I get more emails, texts and messages than I ever have before, but I intentionally turned off my notifications so that some form of boundaries exist.
I know that this annoys people, they want the instant response, the quick answer and the immediate help. But it isn’t sustainable, or at least it isn’t for me and my mobile. I turned off the notifications, something that I know will annoy people, because I need to make sure that my life and lifestyle is sustainable.
I still don’t have it sorted. I have recently also started to leave my phone in a different room once I finish work and only respond to urgent matters when necessary. I still mess up regularly. I still break my own rules, but I am trying to create a more sustainable relationship to the machine that’s designed to suck up all my time.
Your phone may not be ruling your life, but could it be a tool that instead of helping you is hindering your rest? It may not be sucking up all of your time, but could it be zapping your energy as you feel the need to respond or always be present?
If people really need something they can call, and they do. But for now, I have turned off almost all notifications and I’m choosing to annoy people so that I can live a sustainable life that isn’t being sucked away by screen time.