Starting to Unplug
Changing the way you live your life sounds weird, and drastic, but I have to admit that I’m really starting to enjoy it.
I have been constantly connected to everyone I know, via my cell phone and the internet, for over a decade and a half now, except for a few rare occasions (like my wedding) where I left the cell phone behind.
It has always frustrated me that my wife often won’t reply to emails for weeks, never cared to hang out on twitter, was never interested in reading my blog, and basically has never made modern communication (even her cell phone, she rarely answers it) an important part of her daily routine. But she seems perfectly happy and a lot of the time less stressed than myself, so I decided to re-evaluate how I use these tools to see if I’m doing it wrong.
Since I left my job at SabreTech the first big change I made was leaving my phone on silent all day, everyday, unless I’m expecting a call that I really want to get. The iPhone still vibrates, so if its in my pocket or next to my hands on my desk I’ll notice it ringing, and most of the time I’ll pick it up. But not worrying about getting every call is a better way to live, trust me.
Next up was not hovering over twitter every second of the day. I still open it three or four times at work and a half a dozen times in the evening, but its not open all the time anymore, with its little icon constantly distracting me that there are new tweets waiting to be read. Another source of anxiety lifted.
A new source of anxiety introduced itself last year when I started playing Words with Friends. I quickly learned that I would go insane if I didn’t turn off the notifications it sends you every time someone you’re playing against takes their turn. Later I learned how to turn off the badge notification telling me how many games were waiting on me.
But the biggest change I’ve made to date was two weeks ago when I turned off push email on my iPhone. In fact, unless I open my mail app it NEVER goes out and checks for new mail. Now I check my mail in the morning when I get up, keep my mail client open during the day for work, and then don’t look at it again until the next morning. This has been a huge change, for two reasons.
First, I’m not constantly distracted while spending time with my friends and family. They get more of my attention, which makes them happier.
Second, I’m not constantly being reminded of work and what I have to do the next day. I can actually spend time enjoying life outside of work, I can stop obsessing on silly things, and I can just enjoy all of God’s blessings.
Try it, but let me warn you, you’ll probably like it :)