July 10, 2015

Phone & Device rules for anyone who wants their life back!

"Nooooo!  Aaaaaah!  Can't you see I'm busy right now?"

I can still here my dad saying that every time the house phone rang when I was a little girl.  It was so funny to me, because every time the phone rang, my dad would be in the middle of doing something.  After it rang three times, my Mom would yell from some part of the house "aren't you going to get that?"  When it rang the fourth and final time and no one answered, my mom would come running as fast as possible in to answer the phone hoping she did not miss whoever it was. She would miss it by a second and hope whoever it was would call right back.

Our attitudes towards our phones have really changed.  At least mine have!  For my mom’s generation, phone calls were an exciting thing.  A person could suddenly pick up this phone thing and remarkably communicate without being in the same room!  Her generation liked to be near  the phone (attached to a wall) because if someone called, there was a moment of anticipation in not knowing who might be on the other line.  It could be a family member.  A friend.  The neighbor.  Telemarketers.  It was a surprise every time!  Conversations about anything and nothing could last for hours.  Yay!  Phone calls!

Fast forward to 2015, phone calls are annoying. Our phone devices are attached to our bodies all day every day during everything we do, so we can possibly answer every phone call that comes in.  We screen our calls.  If I don’t recognize the number, I am not picking it up.  Not a chance.  I am always busy doing something and whoever is calling me out of the blue is rude for thinking whatever they have to say so important.  Do I really need to stop whatever I am doing to have a conversation?  Unless it's an emergency or I am expecting Bite Squad to bring my coconut curry, no way.  Phone calls are always convenient for the person calling, but never a good time for the receiver. 

I have an important rule.  I control my iPhone.  I don’t let it control me.  I don’t feel bad about it either.  Since my phone knows no boundaries with when it beeps, chimes, buzzes or dings, it makes me wonder why anyone would tolerate such rude, disruptive behavior and how we’ve come to think it’s normal.

Obviously if you need to talk about something that requires focused back and fourth conversation that text or email can't handle, this is going to take some time for both people.  Therefore, for a call to be successful, it should be scheduled.  Yes.  Like a meeting. Unless your job is to answer phone calls all day, no one should be expected be available to talk anytime of the day.  

Our phones aren't really phones anymore. Sure, calling people is a thing the device does, but delivering a barrage of texts, emails, tweets, Facebook messages, notifications to disrupt your focus (or power song when you're  a 3-mile run) are its primary purpose.  My phone has zero respect for me. It doesn’t care what I am in the middle of,  it always has something it feels I need to know about.  It never ends.

Here’s my easy fix. A lot of smart people already do this, but I am surprised how many people don't.  Silence it.  No vibrate.  Nothing.  Not a sound comes out of it all day.  Now, onto more important things.  Your thoughts, focus and energy no longer gets diverted to the phone every time it makes a noise!  

Because my phone is silent all the time, I make a point to check it a few times a day in case of emergencies or crisis.   I check my  phone once first thing in the morning, once around noon and once around dinner.   One exception to my rule: airports or elevators. So far, there has never been anything that important that can't wait until the next time I check my phone.  I handle emergencies, work, clients and urgent messages first, and with whatever time is left, I'll work on a few non-urgent messages. The rest of my day is spent on important things like... oh work, making art, giving my friends my undivided attention at dinner.... taking photos of my dog. :)

With the ringer "on", our devices allow for overwhelming accessibility.  They are distracting. They're annoying.  They are intrusive, rude and time consuming.  But, with the ringer "off", they are wonderful, helpful little tools that have answers to all of our questions. They hold all the messages, texts, emails and reminders in one spot for us to read when we choose.     

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