Why I Put My Phone In Time-Out

September 17, 2014

Several months ago I pondered a thought…what did I do with my time before “smartphones” existed?

I figured it had to be something.  I know it was a lot more golf and working out.  I also found that I actually had conversations with friends when we hung out and not just texting or through social media.  Times were different; Times were simple.

Back in 2002 I got my first cell phone.  A beautiful Samsung that had a nice flip to it and a spacious dial pad.  Do you know why I got it?  To actually make a phone call to someone!!!  It’s amazing where we have come from!

Steve-Jobs-iPhoneOver the years the phone was a nice to have.  If you needed to call a friend quickly because you were running late or a nail found your tire and you needed some roadside assistance.  All relevant reasons to have one and nobody batted an eye.  Over the last several years you could probably hear many excuses coming from my mouth like “No, honey, I need to keep a pulse on what is going on…” or the occasional “I need to interact with my clients…” or my favorite, “But it’s part of my job”.  After thinking back on it, not only were these excuses pretty lame, but by being so dialed into Social Media, I was missing the little things in life that become distant faded memories all too soon.  I was living in this clouded world of “micro content” with so much flying through the feed in a matter of seconds and needing to try and consume every piece of it.  It was dominating my life and affecting my family.

And then it happened…

I woke up one morning and it just hit me.  Do I want to sacrifice the time I had with my wife? Do I want to miss out on all the things my son was doing because my nose was head down in a phone rummaging through information that was 98% useless?  The answer was a big fat NO.

So I did one of the toughest things any human being could possibly think of doing.

I tried to change!

As Winston Churchill poetically said: “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

I decided that I would start slow.  And…Since I have been watching so much Special Agent Oso lately (Look it up, great show!), I figured I would do it in “3 Simple Steps”.

Step 1:

I’d start with weekdays from 6pm until my son went to sleep and I wouldn’t touch the phone.  Only in an emergency situation would I answer.  This allowed me to spend as much time as possible with my wife and son without the interruption of my Facebook feed clouding my mind.  Sure I had the occasional slip up but no more was my head down in the phone.

Step 2:

Then, I moved to weekends.  Minimal interaction online unless my son was napping, I was alone maybe watching TV by myself or taking a break from hitting a few golf balls.  This has been the toughest thus far.  I have allowed myself to take a few calls and check up on emails to not totally go “cold turkey” on this whole thing.

Step 3:

As I am writing this, this is my next step I will take in the coming weeks.  No social media interaction on the weekends at all.   This will undoubtedly be difficult to say the least.  I know I can handle it, heck I went on a weeklong Facebook Detox at the beginning of July.  It will just take patience and the understanding that some of this “stuff” online may be important, however, nothing is more important than my time and I want to spend it as much as possible with the people that make me happy.

 (Cue the “Full House” music at the end of every show)

The “Real” First step in all of this is to realize that there are greater things in life than keeping up with everything “going on” online.  If you find some solace that there is someone else like you out there struggling to balance all of this stuff then hopefully this helps.  It won’t be an easy road.  Mine is only a few months in the making.  It is getting easier each day.  Heck, I still find myself reaching for my phone dozens of times throughout the night as part of the natural routine I put in place many years ago.

The phone had to be put in its place.  We all have plenty of time during normal work hours on a break, or lunch, to fidget with the phone, tweet, share, pin, etc that should last until the next day.   The world will be fine.  You will be too.

Just think, when you stop looking down at that phone you’ll be amazed at what is right in front of you that you could’ve missed all along.

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