Five years ago when I started blogging, I didn’t have a smart phone. It was still considered a luxury, and it was one that I was perfectly happy not to indulge.
Fast forward to today. Everyone is constantly looking down at their phones. Mine goes off about every five seconds with an email or tweet or something. My job has become blurred between “writer” and “social media manager.”
I’m still much more comfortable as the former, but the pervasive bings and beeps keep me on my toes at all times. Every time I hear one, a tab opens up in my mind, and it must be addressed immediately before it will close. (Oh, and I’m not alone.)
I have this fear that if I ignore what’s going on in the digital world, I’ll miss out on real world opportunities.
That’s silly. I think over the past five years I’ve only ever gotten two emails that would have been missed opportunities had I not seen them immediately. Before I had a smart phone, I checked my inbox once or twice a day and was done with it.
FOMO Limits Productivity
Rather than missing out on opportunities by not being a slave to my phone, being a slave to my phone limits me by:
- Constantly serving as a distraction. It’s really hard to be present in this reality when your device is hell bent on keeping you present in the digital world. We’ve made some great innovations in the past decade, but we still can’t be in two places at once.
- Not allowing me the opportunity to be bored, which is where real creativity is birthed. If I am bored, I have the freedom to check my phone, but if I’m constantly checking my phone, I deny myself the freedom to get bored.
- Messing up my flow, and therefore my happiness or satisfaction with the other work I’m seeking to accomplish.
Shutting it Down
This weekend, I finally pulled the switch. I shut all notifications on my phone off from all external apps. While it might have taken me several months to convince myself to do it completely, the actual action took me mere seconds.
So far I’m loving it. Yes, I still check my phone more than I need to. But a random email doesn’t interrupt my writing time. A tweet doesn’t distract me from composing an important email. And Pinterest’s numerous notifications can’t bully their way into play time with my kids.
I still get texts and phone calls. I still address social media and emails–just within their allotted time in my schedule. My hope is that my productivity continues to skyrocket, giving me more time to focus on work or being present with my family.
For right now, this is a 30-day experiment, and I’d love it if you joined me. If we feel like we’re truly missing out at the end of 30 days, we can revert. But I have a feeling that regaining control of our time in physical reality is going to be so much sweeter than following the latest hashtag as it’s happening.