Living in your #phone 2

I recently blogged about some trade-show etiquette and moreover my pet hate about living in your phone. I titled the blog “Living in your phone #part 1” and with good reason. I could probably do a whole series of these and still not find enough vocabulary in any language to describe my love-hate relationship with the mobile phone.

I am fully aware of their uses, I am fully aware of their flaws, I’m also fully aware that we all have a unique relationship with these inanimate objects. But for me to openly admit I love my phone (see love-hate relationship statement above) is actually quite worrying. It has been this realisation that has prompted me to become pretty ruthless in the way I use my phone and judging by my observations over the last month since making this shift, I think there is a huge percentage of people out there who should also evaluate their own relationship with their phone. Do you love it? Is it “your life”? Do you look at it last thing at night and then first thing in the morning before you even get out of bed?

If, like me, you’ve answered YES to any one, or more, of these 3 questions then you may need professional help, or at the very least a digital detox. It is remarkable how many people are now choosing holiday locations based on internet and mobile phone connectivity as opposed to going somewhere because they want to go on vacation.

So what have I observed? How and why has it come about? And what impact has it had on me?

What I’ve observed:

In the last month I’ve been very in tune with the mobile phone habits of everyone around me. I’ve taken mental notes, and I will probably go on to take written notes as I continue with this “one man’s view/study”. People, when staring at this little LED screen, are largely oblivious to anyone else around them. They genuinely have their noses buried into their mobile devices. I’ve seen people walk straight into path of oncoming rush-hour traffic and luckily been avoided by one of the 2 in 5 who weren’t using their phone whilst driving. In fact, on that note, there were a total of 7,966 penalty notices issued in a week of enforcement in November last year, which was a staggering increase from May where just a 2,323 were issued in the same location. (report from the Guardian in January this year) 

During my 2 days in London I was walked into, pushed to one side and plain ignored by people with their ears or heads in or on their phones. I even experienced a group of “executives” out on a business meal spending at least 60% of their entire networking hours stuck in their phones. It has really become a ignorance pandemic and I believe that we should lead a charge to reverse it.

How has this come about?

Let’s be honest I don’t really need to educate anyone here, mobile phones have become, pardon the pun, our right-hand man. Nothing in our lives goes on without us getting some sort of notification to tell us about it. Auntie Judith has her birthday, Uncle Tom is going away for 3 weeks, the dog needs feeding, Lucas needs his medicine, Julia has just reacted to Joe’s photo…. The list of constant interruptions are infinite. And we just keep on adding to them with app after app and social network after social network. – Ironically this blog will also be delivered to a bunch of social networks too, so you see what I mean. We can, however, take control of it and as a very recent convert I can assure you of the liberating qualities some of the following simple actions can have on you.

  • I first of all consolidated my entire social media apps into one folder. I don’t want to give these up completely as they do serve a very useful purpose but I do not need to know about Julia’s astonishment to Joe’s photo followed by Joe’s baffled reaction as to why and the ensuing public airing of their personal dirty laundry.
  • I then turned off ALL notifications for social media. not even that annoying little red number telling me how important these 32 messages between Julia and Joe are.
  • I then consolidated all my news apps into one folder and repeated the same exercise for anything else battling for my 4.7″ of LED attention.
  • Next up was email, the productivity killer of all sales reps. Not a single tone or vibration occurs when I get an email. I have time scheduled to respond to emails on a daily basis and outside of that, if something is urgent, then people can call me. After all I do have a MOBILE phone.
  • I have stopped commenting on political threads with opinion and or reflection of my own. If you comment, you do so to get a reaction, so thereafter you’re ego self is looking constantly to gauge that reaction.
  • Finally I have taken a 4 week break from all social media. This was done so that could break the chains of addiction. The rabbit holes of conversation threads have been an Achilles heal in my life for far too long and I needed to abstain for a period of time in order to break free. Don’t get me wrong, some of the things I’ve written have been posted, I just haven’t checked to see what reaction they’ve been awarded, this is not about me this about me helping others, and I do hope that some of you find it useful.

What impact has this had on me?

I feel the word profound has been a little over used in recent times, but in this case I am going to use it. The profound impact this has had, alongside a series of other life changes, has been overwhelming. I have uncovered so much more time to invest in areas of my life which have previously been neglected. I have been able to listen to and observe things with much greater awareness, and in sales believe me that is such a powerful asset, but most importantly I have been able to take back control of my distractions. I don’t have to answer every single message immediately, I’m not going to lose touch with everyone if I don’t open up Facebook, Twitter or Instagram every 2 hours and I can embrace and even enjoy the benign bickering of my two young children as they push each others’ trigger points with such incredible precision; a talent I am unquestionably envious of because if I knew how to do this that accurately my job in sales would be so simple. In short the return to my phone being an asset as opposed to being a self-imposed life-line has been an exhilarating experience. It is a digital detox journey upon which I’ve begun to travel but one I know that is going to continue throughout the rest of my life as new distractions compete for my attention in the future. Taking back control of this is just the beginning, remaining in control is chapter 2.